GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American musical theatre and film actress. She is remembered for her roles in the original stage and screen versions of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals South Pacific as Bloody Mary – a role that garnered her the Tony Award – and Flower Drum Song as Madame Liang.Today in our History – November 6, 1901- Juanita Hall (née Long, November 6, 1901 – February 29, 1968) was born.Born in Keyport, New Jersey, to an African-American father and Irish-American mother, Hall (along with three siblings) was raised by her maternal grandparents after her mother’s death. She attended Bordentown Industrial School and graduated from Keyport High School. She also received classical training at the Juilliard School. Soon after she finished high school, Hall worked in the Lincoln settlement house in East Orange, New Jersey, teaching music to children during the day and to an adult chorus at night. In the early 1930s, she was a special soloist and assistant director for the Hall Johnson Choir. A leading black Broadway performer in her day, she was personally chosen by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II to perform the roles she played in the musicals South Pacific and Flower Drum Song, as a Tonkinese woman and a Chinese-American, respectively.In 1950, she became the first African American to win a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Bloody Mary in South Pacific[ starring Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin. She also won a Donaldson Award for playing that role. She played the role for 1,925 performances on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre beginning on April 7, 1949. She also starred in the 1954 Broadway musical House of Flowers in which she sang and danced Harold Arlen’s Slide Boy Slide. In addition to her role in South Pacific, she was a regular performer in clubs in Greenwich Village, where she captivated audiences with her renditions of “Am I Blue?”, “Lament Over Love”, and Langston Hughes’ “Cool Saturday Night”.Before her acting roles, she assembled her own chorus group,The Juanita Hall Choir, and kept busy with performances in concert, on records, in films, and on the air. She auditioned for Talent 48, a private review created by the Stage Manager’s Club. Later, she performed on radio in the soap opera The Story of Ruby Valentine on the National Negro Network. The serial was broadcast on 35 stations, and sponsors of the broadcast included Philip Morris and Pet Milk. In 1958, she recorded Juanita Hall Sings the Blues (at Beltone Studios in New York City), backed by a group of jazz musicians that included Claude Hopkins, Coleman Hawkins, Buster Bailey, Doc Cheatham, and George Duvivier. In 1958, she reprised Bloody Mary in the film version of South Pacific, for which her singing part was dubbed. “Rodgers decreed her vibrato was now frayed, so her songs would be dubbed by Muriel Smith, Broadway’s original Carmen Jones.” Smith had played the role in the London production. (Music director Alfred Newman and director Joshua Logan thought that it was unnecessary to dub her.) The same year, Hall starred in Flower Drum Song, another Broadway show by Rodgers and Hammerstein. She also toured in the road show version of Flower Drum Song, but she had to leave it in early 1962 because of illness. Hall married actor Clement Hall while in her teens, when they both were performing in the Broadway production Lew Lefile’s Blackbirds. They had no children and eventually were divorced. In her later years, diabetes led to blindness. Because she had little money, the Actors Fund of America supported her in its Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, and in hospitals when she needed treatment. Hall died at Southside Hospital from complications of her illness. She had been living at the Percy William Actors home in East Islip, New York. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American musician, bandleader, songwriter, arranger, talent scout, and record producer. An early pioneer of 1950s rock and roll, he is best known for his work in the 1960s and 1970s with his then-wife Tina Turner as the leader of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.A native of Clarksdale, Mississippi, Turner began playing piano and guitar as a child and then formed the Kings of Rhythm as a teenager. His first recording, “Rocket 88” (credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats), is considered a contender for the distinction of first rock and roll song. During the 1950s, Turner also worked as a talent scout and producer for Sun Records and Modern Records. He was instrumental in the early careers of various blues musicians such as B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Bobby “Blue” Bland. In 1954, Turner relocated to East St. Louis where his Kings of Rhythm became one of the most renowned acts in Greater St. Louis. He later formed the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in 1960, which over the course of the decade became a soul/rock crossover success.Turner’s cocaine addiction and legal troubles, together with accounts by Tina Turner of domestic violence (published in her 1986 autobiography I, Tina and the 1993 film adaptation What’s Love Got to Do with It), impacted his career in the 1980s and 1990s. Addicted to cocaine for at least 15 years, Turner was convicted of drug offenses and served 18 months in prison. After his release in 1991, he remained drug-free until he relapsed in 2004, which was the cause of his death in 2007. During the last decade of Turner’s life, he revived his career as a frontman by returning to his blues roots. He released two award-winning albums, Here and Now and Risin with the Blues.Hailed as a “great innovator” of rock and roll by contemporaries such as Little Richard and Johnny Otis,[ Turner received critical acclaim as well. Rolling Stone magazine editor David Fricke ranked Turner No. 61 on his list of 100 Greatest Guitarists and noted, “Turner was one of the first guitarists to successfully transplant the intensity of the blues into more-commercial music.”Turner won five Grammy Awards, including two competitive awards and three Grammy Hall of Fame Awards. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Tina Turner in 1991. He is also inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame, the Clarksdale Walk of Fame, the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, and the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.Today in our History – November 5, Izear Luster “Ike” Turner Jr. (November 5, 1931 – December 12, 2007) was born.Ike Turner was a popular twentieth century African-American musician, bandleader and lyricist. He was also a record producer and is given credit for introducing rock and roll in 1950s. Turner came to stardom in 1960s and 1970s with his former wife Tina Turner and their record label.Ike Wister Turner was born on November 5, 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. His mother was a seamstress and father was a Baptist minister. In his childhood, Turner witnessed his father being tortured and left for dead by white mob.Upon his father’s death, his mother remarried and his step-father turned out to be an abusive alcoholic. Turner and his step-father often had arguments and fights and once he hit him a wooden piece and ran away. He had a quite rough childhood before he visited local Clarksdale radio station and gained his first job related to music. He soon was offered a Disc Jockey job by the station manager and the job meant he had access to all the new releases.Turner taught himself to play guitar on blues records. In his high school he joined a local rhythm ensemble called The Tophatters. The band played music around Mississippi. By then Turner had learned to play by ear and was still unable to read the music notes. When the band reached over thirty members it split into two; The Dukes of Swing and the Kings of Rhythm. The former played jazz while the latter was led by Turner himself, which played blues and boogie-woogie. The early performances of Kings of Rhythm were based on latest jukebox hits. They were recommended to Sun Studio by another musician and their music was on-aired on a few radio stations.Morover, early in his music career, Turner became part of road crew of Robert Nighthawk, who often performed at WROX. He played blues to support Nighthawk on several radio stations in Clarksdale. This opportunity provided him the chance of gaining music experience with the professionals. He also did a few gigs for some blues artist, such as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Elmore James, Little Walter and Muddy Waters. Finally the band got the much anticipated break when they recorded the track “Rocket 88”. The Chess Brothers introduced their band as “Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats”. Turner came up with the introduction and first verse of the song while the band collaborated on the rest. As it turned out the number became a smashing hit and made a record, selling about half a million copies.With the success of their new release arose the tension in the band as everyone struggled to claim glory and assert their importance. The band was on verge of falling apart when Brenston took few original members with him to pursue a solo career. Turner being the bandleader disbanded the Kings of Rhythm for a few years, as he was met disappointment when he missed a chance at successful music career. However, he landed a job of production assistant for Philips and the Bihari Brothers and became a session musician. Bihari Brothers exploited Turner binding him under the contract and used his written material.In 1951, Ike Turner came to success as first rock and roll artist. Shortly after, he met singer Anna Mae Bullock and renamed her Tina Turner and formed The Ike & Tina Turner Revue with her. He won two Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. However, his career took a downfall when his wife accused him of domestic violence and drug abuse and he was later convicted for drug offences. 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 ophthalmologist, inventor, humanitarian, and academic. She was the inventor of laser cataract surgery. Her invention was called Laserphaco Probe. She also became the first woman member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, first woman to lead a post-graduate training program in ophthalmology, and first woman elected to the honorary staff of the UCLA Medical Center.Bath was the first African-American person to serve as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University. She was also the first African-American woman to serve on staff as a surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center. Bath was the first African-American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. The holder of five patents, she also founded the non-profit American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in Washington, D.C.Today in our History – November 4, 1942 – Dr. Patricia Era Bath (November 4, 1942 – May 30, 2019) was born.Born 1942, in Harlem, New York, Patricia Bath was the daughter of Rupert and Gladys Bath. Her father was an immigrant from Trinidad, a newspaper columnist, a merchant seaman and the first black man to work for the New York City Subway as a motorman. Her father inspired her love for culture and encouraged her to explore different cultures. Her mother was descended from African slaves and Cherokee Native Americans. Throughout her childhood, Bath was often told by her parents to “never settle for less than [her] best” and had been encouraged by their support of her education.Her mother, encouraging her dreams and love of science, had bought her her first chemistry set. By the time she had reached high school, Bath was already a National Science Foundation scholar. This led to her cancer research earning a front page feature in the New York Times. Patricia and her brother attended Charles Evans Hughes High School where both students excelled in science and math.Inspired by Albert Schweitzer’s work in medicine, Bath applied for and won a National Science Foundation Scholarship while attending high school; this led her to a research project at Yeshiva University and Harlem Hospital Center studying connections between cancer, nutrition, and stress. In this summer program, led by Rabbi Moses D. Tendler, Bath had studied the effects of streptomycin residue on bacteria. Through this, she was able to conclude that cancer, itself, was a catabolic disease and tumor growth was a symptom. She had also discovered a mathematical equation that could be used to predict cancer cell growth.The head of the research program realized the significance of her findings and published them in a scientific paper. Her discoveries were also shared at the International Fifth Congress of Nutrition in the fall of 1960.In 1960, at the age of eighteen years old, Bath won a “Merit Award” of Mademoiselle magazine for her contribution to the project.Bath received her Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Manhattan’s Hunter College in 1964. She then relocated to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University College of Medicine. Her freshman year at Howard coincided with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.She co-founded the Student National Medical Association and became its first woman president in 1965. At Howard, she was awarded a Children’s Bureau National Government Fellowship Award to do research in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in the summer of 1967, where her research focused on pediatric surgery. The highlight of the award ceremony was the meeting of Earl Warren, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, at the US Embassy in Belgrade. Bath graduated with honors from Howard University College of Medicine in 1968. She was awarded the Edwin Watson Prize for Excellence in Ophthalmology by her mentor, Lois A. Young.The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., in 1968, caused Bath to dedicate herself to achieving one of the dreams of King, namely the empowerment of people through the Poor People’s Campaign. She organized and led Howard University medical students in providing volunteer health care services to the Poor People’s Campaign in Resurrection City in the summer of 1968.Bath returned to her Harlem community and interned at Harlem Hospital Center, which had just become affiliated with Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. During her internship, she observed large proportions of blind patients at Harlem Hospital in comparison to patients at the Columbia University Eye Clinic.Prior to beginning her ophthalmology residency study at NYU in 1970, she was awarded a one-year fellowship from Columbia University to study and contribute to eye care services at Harlem Hospital. She began to collect data on blindness and visual impairment at Harlem Hospital, which did not have any ophthalmologists on staff.Her data and passion for improvement persuaded her professors from Columbia to begin operating on blind patients, without charge, at Harlem Hospital Center. Bath was proud to be on the Columbia team that performed the first eye surgery at Harlem Hospital in November 1969.She served her residency in ophthalmology at New York University, from 1970 to 1973, the first African American to do so. She got married and had a daughter, Eraka, in 1972.Bath died on May 30, 2019, at a University of California, San Francisco medical center from cancer-related complications, aged 76. 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 country blues singer and guitarist.Raised in Avalon, Mississippi, he taught himself to play the guitar around the age of nine. He worked as a sharecropper and began playing at dances and parties, singing to a melodious fingerpicked accompaniment. His first recordings, made for Okeh Records in 1928, were commercial failures, and he continued to work as a farmer.Dick Spottswood and Tom Hoskins, a blues enthusiast, located him in 1963 and persuaded him to move to Washington, D.C. He was recorded by the Library of Congress in 1964. This helped further the American folk music revival, which led to the rediscovery of many other bluesmen of his era.He performed on the university and coffeehouse concert circuit with other Delta blues musicians who were brought out of retirement. He also recorded several albums for Vanguard Records.He returned to Mississippi, where he died, in Grenada, a year later.Material recorded by him has been re-released by many record labels. His songs have been recorded by Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Garcia, Beck, Doc Watson, John McCutcheon, Taj Mahal, Bruce Cockburn, David Johansen, Bill Morrissey, Gillian Welch, Josh Ritter, Chris Smither, Guthrie Thomas, Parsonsfield, and Rory Block. Today in our History – November 2, 1966 – John Smith Hurt (March 8, 1893 – November 2, 1966), died.Hurt was born in Teoc, Carroll County, Mississippi, and raised in Avalon, Mississippi. He taught himself to play guitar at the age of nine, stealthily playing the guitar of a friend of his mother’s, who often stayed at the Hurt home while courting a woman who lived nearby. As a youth, he played old-time music for friends and at dances. He worked as a farmhand and sharecropper into the 1920s.His fast, highly syncopated style of playing was meant for dancing. On occasion, a medicine show would come through the area. Hurt recalled that one wanted to hire him: “One of them wanted me, but I said no because I just never wanted to get away from home.” In 1923, he played with the fiddle player Willie Narmour as a substitute for Narmour’s regular partner, Shell Smith.When Narmour got a chance to record for Okeh Records as a prize for winning first place in a 1928 fiddle contest, he recommended Hurt to Okeh producer Tommy Rockwell. After auditioning “Monday Morning Blues” at his home, Hurt took part in two recording sessions, in Memphis and New York City (see Discography below). While in Memphis, he recalled seeing “many, many blues singers … Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bessie Smith, and lots, lots more.” Hurt described his first recording session as follows:… a great big hall with only the three of us in it: me, the man [Rockwell], and the engineer. It was really something. I sat on a chair, and they pushed the microphone right up to my mouth and told me that I couldn’t move after they had found the right position. I had to keep my head absolutely still. Oh, I was nervous, and my neck was sore for days after.Hurt attempted further negotiations with Okeh to record again, but his records were commercial failures. Okeh went out of business during the Great Depression, and Hurt returned to Avalon and obscurity, working as a sharecropper and playing at local parties and dances.Hurt’s renditions of “Frankie” and “Spike Driver Blues” were included in The Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952 which generated considerable interest in locating him. When a copy of “Avalon Blues” was discovered in 1963, it led musicologist Dick Spottswood to locate Avalon in an atlas, and ask Tom Hoskins, who was traveling that way, to enquire after Hurt. When Hoskins arrived in Avalon the first person he asked directed him to Hurt’s cabin.Avalon, my home town, always on my mind / Avalon, my home town.— Mississippi John Hurt, “Avalon Blues”Hoskins persuaded an apprehensive Hurt to perform several songs for him, to ensure that he was genuine. Hoskins was convinced and, seeing that Hurt’s guitar playing skills were still intact, encouraged him to move to Washington, D.C., and perform for a broader audience. His performance at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival caused his star to rise in the folk revival occurring at that time. He performed extensively at colleges, concert halls, and coffeehouses and appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He also recorded three albums for Vanguard Records. Much of his repertoire was also recorded for the Library of Congress. His fans particularly liked the ragtime songs “Salty Dog” and “Candy Man” and the blues ballads “Spike Driver Blues” (a variant of “John Henry”) and “Frankie”.Hurt’s influence spanned several music genres, including blues, spirituals, country, bluegrass, folk, and contemporary rock and roll. A soft-spoken man, his nature was reflected in the work, which consisted of a mellow mix of country, blues, and old-time music.Hurt died on November 2, 1966, of a heart attack, in hospital at Grenada, Mississippi. His last recordings had been done at a hotel in New York City in February and July of that year, and were not released until 1972 on the Vanguard LP Last Sessions.Hurt used a fast, syncopated fingerpicking style of guitar playing that he taught himself. He was influenced by few other musicians, among whom was an elderly, unrecorded blues singer from the area where he lived, Rufus Hanks, who played twelve-string guitar and harmonica.He also recalled listening to the country singer Jimmie Rodgers. On occasion, Hurt would use an open tuning and a slide, as he did in his arrangement of “The Ballad of Casey Jones”. According to the music critic Robert Christgau, “the school of John Fahey proceeded from his finger-picking, and while he’s not the only quietly conversational singer in the modern folk tradition, no one else has talked the blues with such delicacy or restraint.”There is a memorial to Hurt in Avalon, Mississippi. It is parallel to RR2, the rural road on which he grew up.The American singer-songwriter Tom Paxton, who met Hurt and played on the same bill with him at the Gaslight in Greenwich Village around 1963, wrote and recorded a song about him in 1977, “Did You Hear John Hurt?”, which he still frequently plays in live performances.The first track of John Fahey’s 1968 solo acoustic guitar album Requia is “Requiem for John Hurt”. Fahey’s posthumous live album, The Great Santa Barbara Oil Slick, also features a version of the piece, entitled “Requiem for Mississippi John Hurt”.The British folk and blues artist Wizz Jones recorded a tribute song, “Mississippi John”, for his 1977 album Magical Flight.The Delta blues artist Rory Block recorded the album Avalon: A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt, released in 2013 as part of her “Mentor Series”.The New England singer-songwriter Bill Morrissey released the Grammy-nominated album Songs of Mississippi John Hurt in 1999.In 2017, John Hurt’s life story was told in the award-winning documentary series American Epic. The film featured unseen film footage of Hurt performing and being interviewed, and radically improved restorations of his 1920s recordings. Director Bernard MacMahon stated that Hurt “was the inspiration for American Epic”. Hurt’s life was profiled in the accompanying book, American Epic: The First Time America Heard Itself. 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GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American journalist, historian, writer, orator, civil rights activist and Pan-African nationalist. He was born a slave in Maryland; as an adult, he founded numerous newspapers along the East Coast, as well as co-founding (with Arthur Alfonso Schomburg) the Negro Society for Historical Research in New York.Today in our History – November 1, 1877 – John Edward Bruce, also known as Bruce Grit or J. E. Bruce-Grit (February 22, 1856 – August 7, 1924) – Made his speech “Reasons Why the Colored American Should Go to Africa.Bruce was born a in 1856 in Piscataway, Maryland, to enslaved parents Robert and Martha Allen (Clark) Bruce. When he was three years old, his father was sold to a slaveholder in Georgia and Bruce never saw or heard from him again. He and his mother fled to Washington, D.C. and later to Connecticut, where Bruce enrolled in an integrated school and received his first formal education. Traveling back to Washington later, he received a private education and attended Howard University for a three-month course. After that, he never pursued formal education again, and was mostly self-taught.In 1874, at the age of 18, Bruce earned a job as a messenger for the associate editor of the New York Times’ Washington office. His duties included getting information for the next day’s paper from Senator Charles Sumner, a Republican who supported civil rights for African-Americans. As African Americans increasingly realized that Reconstruction would not usher in permanent citizenship rights and in fact did not protect them from violence, some black leaders began to call for alternative approaches. Not surprisingly a some again urged African American colonization in Africa. In October, 1877 journalist John Edward Bruce added his voice to the colonization movement in a speech outlining why African Americans should return to the ancestral homeland. The speech which was first published in the Christian Recorder on November 1, 1877, appears below.I shall endeavor to show tonight why the colored American should emigrate to Africa first, because Africa is his fatherland; secondly, because, before the war, in the South he was a slave, and in the North, a victim of prejudice and ostracism; and thirdly, because, since the close of the war, although he has been freed by emancipation and invested with enfranchisement, he is only nominally free; and lastly, because he is still a victim of prejudice, and practically proscribed socially, religiously, politically, educationally, and in the various industrial pursuits.First, then, he should emigrate to Africa because it is his fatherland. Africa is a country rich in its productions, offering untold treasures to the adventurer who may go there. It has a peculiar claim upon the colored American in this country, and that claim is as just and as equitable as any could be. One hundred and fifty millions of our people are on the other side of the broad Atlantic, groveling in darkness and superstition; five millions are on this side surrounded by all the advantages that could be desired in the march toward civilization. It is our duty to carry to those benighted, darkened minds a light to guide them in the march toward civilization. For centuries the colored race has not been highly educated. This has not always been the fact, and history, which shows what has been done, proves what may yet be. The Africans held possession of southern Egypt when Isaiah wrote, “Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” When the Queen of Sheba brought added wealth to the treasures of Solomon, and when a princely and learned Ethiopian became a herald of Christ before Paul the Hebrew, Cornelius, or the European soldiers were converted. The race to whom had been given the wonderful continent of Africa, can be educated and elevated to wealth, power and station among the nations of the earth.Secondly, why the colored American should emigrate to Africa is because before the war, in the South he was a slave and in the North a victim of prejudice and ostracism. During the cruel days of slavery the colored American had no right which the white American was bound to respect; he was a nonentity before the law an automaton with an immortal soul. “Old Massa” had full power and control over him and his posterity. His relatives, children and friends who were dear to him were snatched up any time by “Old Massa” and sold into slavery, driven into misery everlasting, woe and discontentment. So much for slavery.Thirdly, why the colored American should emigrate to Africa is because, since the war, although he has been freed by emancipation and invested with enfranchisement, he is only nominally free. His rights are abridged; he is an American only in name. The doors of the public schools are closed against his children, notwithstanding the fact that he is taxed to support them. The common carriers, hotels and places of amusement, refuse to recognize him as a free man; no matter what his rank or station may be, he cannot enjoy the privileges which the Constitution (the supreme law of the land) guarantees to the humblest citizen. The atrocious massacre of unoffending colored men during the past five years in the states of Mississippi, South Carolina and Louisiana have blackened the page of American history and cast a gloom over the whole civilized world. Innocent men and women were butchered in cold blood by the inhuman wretches who glory in the name “American citizen.” These brutal murders were committed in defiance of all law and justice. Men can never forget them. The blood of thousands of our race cries aloud unto the God of justice, and the day of retribution is not far distant.And lastly, why the colored American should emigrate to Africa is because he is still a victim of prejudice, and practically proscribed socially, religiously and politically. He cannot enter a hotel and obtain accommodations without paying a double price, should he be successful in entering at all. If he go to the church of God in this Christian land, he is thrust into the gallery. If he wants to go South, he is packed in the car nearest the engine so that he will be the first killed in case of a collision. Politically he is a failure and cannot begin to compete with his white brother. He is used by him in all dirty jobs to advance his interests to fill his pockets with ill gotten gains; he is virtually a tool and a scapegoat in this respect, and he is regarded as an indispensable auxiliary in time of elections by these unscrupulous and unprincipled demagogues, who axe a disgrace and a curse to such a republic as this claims to be.And now Mr. President, I think I have shown why the colored American should emigrate to Africa. It is to his interest and his gain to do so. He is surrounded on every hand by prejudice and opposition, and it remains for him to carve out for himself a destiny among the nations of the earth. In Harlem and Yonkers, Bruce became involved with the emerging community of intellectuals, including newly arrived immigrants from the Caribbean. In 1911, with Arthur Schomburg from Puerto Rico, he founded the Negro Society for Historical Research, first based in Yonkers, to create an institute to support scholarly efforts. For the first time it brought together African, West Indian and Afro-American scholars. This later became the foundation for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, on Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem.Bruce also was a mentor to Hubert Henry Harrison, the young migrant from St. Croix who became influential in black socialism and black nationalism.Bruce’s belief in an independent national destiny for blacks in the United States led him in the period around 1919 to embrace Jamaican Marcus Garvey’s Pan-African nationalism. As a member of Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), Bruce wrote for the movement’s Negro World and the Daily Negro Times.Despite his productivity, Bruce found that to sustain himself he had for most of his adult life to work for the Port of New York Authority. After he retired in 1922, he received a small pension until his death in New York City’s Bellevue Hospital two years later.Bruce was given an impressive state funeral at the UNIA Liberty Hall in New York City on August 10, 1924, and was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Yonkers. More than 5,000 people attended three services conducted that day honoring him.Bruce was a Prince Hall Mason, member of the Humane Order of African Redemption and the African Society of London, now the Royal African Society.Bruce married Florence A. Bishop of Cleveland, Ohio, on September 10, 1885, in Washington, DC. 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 professional basketball player and coach. He was the first African American player to play a game in the National Basketball Association (NBA).An All–American player at West Virginia State University, he helped lead West Virginia State to an undefeated season in 1948. As a professional, Lloyd helped lead the Syracuse Nationals to the 1955 NBA Championship. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.Today in our History – October 31, 1950 – Earl Francis Lloyd (April 3, 1928 – February 26, 2015) Played in a NBA Pro Game.Earl Lloyd was born in Alexandria, Virginia on April 3, 1928 to Theodore Lloyd, Sr. and Daisy Lloyd. His father worked in the coal industry and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. Being a high school standout, Lloyd was named to the All-South Atlantic Conference three times and the All-State Virginia Interscholastic Conference twice. Lloyd did attend a segregated school, but gives gratitude to his family and educators for helping him through the tough times and his success after school.Lloyd was a 1946 graduate of Parker–Grey High School, where he played for Coach Louis Randolph Johnson. He received a scholarship to play basketball at West Virginia State University, home of the Yellow Jackets. In school he was nicknamed “Moon Fixer” because of his size and was known as a defensive specialist.Lloyd led West Virginia State to two Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Conference and Tournament Championships in 1948 and 1949. He was named All–Conference three times (1948–50) and was All-American twice, as named by the Pittsburgh Courier (1949–50). As a senior, he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game, while leading West Virginia State to a second–place finish in the CIAA Conference and Tournament Championship. In 1947–48, West Virginia State was the only undefeated team in the United States, with a 30–0 record. Lloyd graduated from WVSU with his B.S. degree in physical education in 1950.Lloyd was drafted in the 9th round with pick #100 by the Washington Capitols in the 1950 NBA draft. Nicknamed “The Big Cat”, Lloyd was one of three black players to enter the NBA at the same time. It was because of the order in which the team’s season openers fell that Lloyd was the first to actually play in a game in the NBA, scoring six points on Halloween night. The date was October 31, 1950, one day ahead of Chuck Cooper of the Boston Celtics and four days before Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton of the New York Knicks.Lloyd played in over 560 games in nine seasons. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward played in only seven games for the Washington Capitols before the team folded on January 9, 1951. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. While fulfilling his military duty, the Syracuse Nationals picked him up on waivers. Lloyd served time fighting in the Korean War before coming back to basketball in 1952. In the 1953–54 season, Lloyd led the NBA in both personal fouls and disqualifications.In 1954-1955, Lloyd averaged career highs of 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds for Syracuse, which beat the Fort Wayne Pistons 4 games to 3 to win the 1955 NBA Championship. Lloyd and Jim Tucker became the first African–Americans to play on an NBA championship team. Lloyd spent six seasons with Syracuse and two with the Detroit Pistons before retiring in 1961.Regarding the racism black players faced in the early years of the NBA, Lloyd recalled being refused service multiple times and an incident where a fan in Indiana spit on him. However, Lloyd persevered and said that these instances only pushed him and made him play harder. Saying he didn’t encounter racial animosity from teammates or opposing players, Lloyd said of fans’ antics, “My philosophy was: If they weren’t calling you names, you weren’t doing nothing. If they’re calling you names, you were hurting them.””In 1950, basketball was like a babe in the woods; it didn’t enjoy the notoriety that baseball enjoyed,” Lloyd once said. “I don’t think my situation was anything like Jackie Robinson’s-a guy who played in a hostile environment, where some of his teammates didn’t want him around. In basketball, folks were used to seeing integrated college teams. There was a different mentality.”“He’s an unsung star. Anybody can score. Lloyd was an excellent defensive player. That was No. 1 on my roster,” said his Syracuse Coach Al Cervi.In his NBA career with the Washington Capitols (1950–1951), Syracuse Nationals (1952–1958) and Detroit Pistons (1958–1960), Earl averaged 8.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 560 games over nine seasons.According to Detroit News sportswriter Jerry Green, in 1965 Detroit Pistons General Manager Don Wattrick wanted to hire Lloyd as the team’s head coach. Dave DeBusschere was instead named Pistons player–coach. Lloyd was the first African–American assistant coach and was named head coach for the 1971–72 season, making him the third African–American head coach, after John McLendon and Bill Russell.A 2–5 start to the following campaign resulted in Lloyd being relieved of his duties and replaced by assistant coach Ray Scott on October 28, 1972. He had an overall record of 22–55 with the Pistons.Lloyd worked for the Pistons as a scout for five seasons. Lloyd is credited with helping draft Bailey Howell and discovering Willis Reed, Earl Monroe, Ray Scott and Wally Jones.After his basketball career, Lloyd worked during the 1970s and 1980s as a job placement administrator for the Detroit public school system. During this time, Lloyd also ran programs for underprivileged children teaching job skills.Lloyd served as Community Relations Director for the Bing Group, a Detroit manufacturing company in the 1990s.Approached by a young African–American player who said he was indebted to Lloyd for opening the doors for future generations of black players, Lloyd replied that he owed him absolutely nothing.“You cannot understand what an honor this is,” Lloyd said in 2007 about the court at T. C. Williams High School being named in his honor. “There’s no better honor than being validated by people who know you best. I will always, always treasure this.”Lloyd and his wife, Charlita, have three sons and four grandchildren. Lloyd resided in Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, just outside Crossville, Tennessee, until his death on February 26, 2015.In 1993, Lloyd was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.Lloyd was inducted into the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Hall of Fame in 1998.The state of Virginia, proclaimed on February 9, 2001 as “Earl Lloyd Day” by action of Virginia’s Governor.In 2003, Lloyd was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor.Lloyd was named to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Silver and Golden Anniversary Teams.The newly constructed basketball court at T. C. Williams High School in Lloyd’s home town of Alexandria, Virginia, was named in his honor in 2007. Lloyd attended Parker-Gray High School, as Alexandria’s schools were racially-segregated at the time. T.C. Williams—the subject of the motion picture Remember the Titans—was created as a combined, desegregated school two decades later.In November 2009, Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd, was released. Lloyd wrote this biography with Syracuse area writer, Sean Kirst.In 2012, Lloyd was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.In 2014, a statue of Earl Lloyd was unveiled at West Virginia State University in the Walker Convocation Center. That same year, the “Earl Lloyd Classic” began, hosted at West Virginia State.In 2015 Lloyd, along with fellow basketball player Alonzo Mourning, was one of eight Virginians honored in the Library of Virginia’s “Strong Men & Women in Virginia History” because of his contributions to the sport of basketball.In 2018, the road running in front of the Walker Convocation Center at West Virginia State University was renamed “Earl Lloyd Way.” Research more about vthis great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American middle-distance runner, winner of the 800 m event at the 1936 Summer Olympics. I learned about him in Junior High School in Trenton, NJ and decided to run the 800 in his honor and the Long Jump for what Jesse Owens did. I met him in Trenton, N.J. in 1968, when he was living in Highstown, N.J.Woodruff was only a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh in 1936 when he placed second at the National AAU meet and first at the Olympic Trials (in the heat 1:49.9; WR 1:49., earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Woodruff was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.Despite his inexperience, he was the favorite in the Olympic 800 meter run, and he did not disappoint. In one of the most exciting races in Olympic history, Woodruff became boxed in by other runners and was forced to stop running. He then came from behind to win in 1:52.9. The New York Times described the race:He remembers the anguish of his Olympic race: “Phil Edwards, the Canadian doctor, set the pace, and it was very slow. On the first lap, I was on the inside, and I was trapped. I knew that the rules of running said if I tried to break out of a trap and fouled someone, I would be disqualified. At that point, I didn’t think I could win, but I had to do something.”Woodruff was a 21-year-old college freshman, an unsophisticated and, at 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m), an ungainly runner. But he was a fast thinker, and he made a quick decision.”I didn’t panic,” he said. “I just figured if I had only one opportunity to win, this was it. I’ve heard people say that I slowed down or almost stopped. I didn’t almost stop. I stopped, and everyone else ran around me.”Then, with his stride of almost 10 feet (3.0 m), Woodruff ran around everyone else. He took the lead, lost it on the backstretch, but regained it on the final turn and won the gold medal.During a career that was curtailed by World War II, Woodruff won one AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) title in 800 m in 1937 and won both 440 yd (400 m) and 880 yd (800 m) IC4A titles from 1937 to 1939. Woodruff also held a share of the world 4×880 yd relay record while competing with the national team.Woodruff graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1939, with a major in sociology. While at the University of Pittsburgh Woodruff became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. and then earned a master’s degree in the same field from New York University in 1941.He entered military service in 1941 as a second lieutenant and was discharged as a captain in 1945. He re-entered military service during the Korean War, and left in 1957 as a lieutenant colonel. He was the battalion commander of the 369th Artillery, later the 569 Transportation Battalion New York Army National Guard.In later years Woodruff lived in New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York and in Hightstown, New Jersey. He coached young athletes and officiated at local and Madison Garden track meets. Woodruff also worked as a teacher in New York City, a special investigator for the New York Department of Welfare, a recreation center director for the New York City Police Athletic League, a parole officer for the state of New York, a salesperson for Schieffelin and Co. and an assistant to the Center Director for Edison Job Corps Center in New Jersey.In the late 1990s John, with his wife Rose, retired to Fountain Hills, Arizona residing at Fountain View Village retirement community. Woodruff’s last public appearance was on April 15, 2007 when he, along with the members of the Tuskegee Airmen, was honored by the Arizona Diamondbacks by throwing out the first pitch. John Woodruff is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis (section 46, lot 86).Each year, a 5-kilometer road race is held in Connellsville to honor Woodruff.Today in our History – October 30, 2007 – John Youie “Long John” Woodruff died.John Woodruff was the last surviving U.S. gold-medalist from the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The 21-year-old freshman from the University of Pittsburgh won the middle distance 800-meter race on August 1, 1936 and he did it with a daring maneuver that carried him from dead last to victory.Along with the four gold medals won that year by Jesse Owens, John Woodruff’s victory helped challenge notions of Aryan racial supremacy before a stadium of spectators that included Adolph Hitler and other leaders of Germany’s Nazi regime.John Woodruff went on to win championships and set time records in numerous races while earning degrees in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh and New York University. After serving as an officer in the army during World War II, the sociologist worked for public agencies including several that helped disadvantaged youth. John Woodruff is the grandson of Virginia slaves and the son of a steelworker. He has two children and lives in Arizona with his second wife RoseJohn Woodruff was born on July 5, 1915 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, a small town in the heart of steelmaking country. Though the town was prosperous John’s parents were poor. His father Silas, the son of Virginia slaves, worked for the H.C. Frick Coke Company. His mother, Sarah, was a spiritual woman who gave birth to 12 children, six of whom died in infancy. John was especially close to his mother and to an older sister Margaret, who resembled her.Hard work was valued more than school in the Woodruff household. So neither his father, who had an eighth grade education, nor his mother, who had a second grade education, took much notice when their next to youngest child, John, became an avid reader. John recalls startling his own second grade teacher by finishing books several years beyond his level. He also remembers signing his own report cards because his father was functionally illiterate.By the time John reached high school the Great Depression had brought hard times to Connellsville. When some of John’s white classmates dropped out to take factory jobs John tried to do the same. But the 16-year-old was told the company was not hiring Negroes so he went back to school. He says that the experience marked the one time discrimination worked to his benefit.In the 11th grade John made the football team. Each practice wound up with a run up to the cemetery and back to the field. At just over six-feet-three-inches tall, John had a nine-foot running stride that would later earn him the nickname ‘Long John Woodruff’. That stride instantly grabbed the attention of assistant football coach and track coach Joseph Larew.Unfortunately the only thing John’s mother noticed was that her son was getting home from school too late for his chores. She demanded that he quit. But the track team required less time than football so in the spring coach Larew convinced John to sign up. In his first competition John won both the 880-yard and one-mile runs.At a meet in Morgantown, West Virginia he met Ohio State’s star runner Jesse Owens who became a friend and inspiration – putting John on track to becoming a star athlete and the first – and only – member of his family to finish high school. (John notes that his sister Margaret eventually earned her GED and became a nurse.)Unfortunately his mother would not live to see her son graduate. In 1935 she died of cancer at the age of 59. Despite the personal tragedy, John Woodruff set school, county, district, and state records and broke the national school mile record with a time of 4:23.4. He also scored an athletic scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh.John credits Pitt track coach Carl Olson with helping him get to college but once there campus life posed severe financial hardships for the 20-year-old. He recalls arriving with just 25 cents in his pocket and living at a YMCA infested with bedbugs. To earn money and qualify for meal benefits he took assorted jobs including cleaning the athletic facilities and working on the campus grounds.He planned to study physical education but switched to Sociology and History due to his interest in people his love of books. Meanwhile, on the field his freshman year, he swept up gold medals at the Penn Relays and National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) meets, prompting Coach Olson to invite John to try out for the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. He landed a spot on the U.S. men’s track and field team which included several other African-Americans including Jesse Owens.At the time America’s participation in the games was in question. John recalls, “There was some talk about the Olympics being boycotted because of what Hitler was doing to the Jewish people in Germany. But it was never discussed amongst team members.We heard something about it, but we never discussed it. We weren’t interested in the politics you see at all we were only interested in going to Germany and winning.” In July he celebrated his twenty-first birthday and then sailed to Germany. Despite being nervous about his first voyage overseas, teammates were drawn to John. He won their respect and forged friendships that would last a lifetime.At the games John won the semi-finals of the 800-meter race by 20 yards. But in the final event he made a tactical mistake – a mistake he turned into an unforgettable moment of triumph. He has recounted the story many times: “Phil Edwards (a five-time Olympic medalist from Canada) jumped right in front and set a very, very slow pace.I decided due to my lack of experience I would follow him. … The pace was so slow, and all the runners crowded right around me…I had enough experience to know if I tried to get out of the trap, I was going to be disqualified. So I moved out into the third lane, and I let all the runners precede me. That’s what made the race very outstanding.I actually started the race twice.” Restarting from a dead stop behind the other contenders John passed them all. His winning time of 1:52:9 led some to wonder how much faster it might have been had he not been caught in the pack. The New York Herald-Tribune called it the “most daring move seen on a track.”John has said, “I didn’t know I was going to win that race. I really didn’t. I just took advantage of the opportunity to get there to give me a chance to win it.” Woodruff became the first American to win the Gold in the 800-meter race in more than 20 years. He still remembers the elation he felt on the victory stand. Contrary to some reports that Hitler and the Germans overtly snubbed the black athletes, John says he was treated extremely well especially by the public.Following a tour of Europe with teammates to compete in local meets, Connellsville threw John a homecoming parade. The town presented him with a gold watch (later stolen) and John gave the town a small German oak tree that had been presented to each medal winner. Not many of the trees had survived the trip home and time spent in the hands of agricultural inspectors. But John had taken pains to reclaim his sapling and to see it that was nursed back to health.Once he returned to college for his sophomore year his gratitude and elation met with the sobering realities of racism in America. First he was excluded from competing at a track meet at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. “Navy refused to allow Pitt to come if they brought me. I could not go because I was black.”And, when he did travel with the team, the star athlete was routinely required to stay apart from the whites. But the biggest blow came in 1937 when Woodruff says biased officials deprived him of a world record at the Greater Texas and Pan American Exposition games. The trip south started badly with Pitt’s black athletes having to threaten to withdraw from competition to gain access to the train’s dining car.And once in Dallas, they were bused to a YMCA to sleep on cots in a gym. Then John ran the fastest race of his life in the 880-yard track event, beating world record holder Elroy Robinson with a time of 1:47.8. But officials who had certified the measurement of the track before the race, re-measured it and found to be six feet short. John was devastated and has said, “You know what happened. Those boys got their heads together and decided they weren’t going to give a black man a white man’s record.”Though bitter, he continued to compete, maintaining his amateur status while earning his undergraduate degree. In relay after relay he racked up wins and set records. He became the first athlete to ever anchor three championship relays in a year in 1938, and did it again in 1939.He is especially proud of anchoring the Sprint Medley Relays held in Philadelphia that set a new world record in 1939, a stat that is recorded on the back wall of the stadium at Franklin Field. Author Jim Kriek once summed up his varsity accomplishments by saying they, “included three national collegiate half-mile championships, three IC4A championships in the 440 and 880, a new American record in the 800-meters, a world record half-mile run at the Cotton Bowl, in Dallas, Texas, national AAU half-mile championships, and various school and state honors.”On June 7, 1940 he set an American record in the 800-meter race1:48:60. That same year he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, and went on New York University, earning a master’s degree in Sociology in 1941.If not for World War II he may have become a university professor and participated in another Olympic competition. Instead he entered the army as a Second Lieutenant and the following year he married. Among the guests at John’s 1942 wedding to Hattie Davis was good friend Jesse Owens. The Woodruff’s had two children, Randelyn (Randy) Gilliam, now a retired teacher living in Chicago and John, Jr. now a trial attorney in New York.During the war John rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel and was discharged from active duty in 1945. He returned to New York and held jobs with government agencies as a parole officer, teacher and special investigator for the New York Department of Welfare. He also worked for the New York City Children’s Aid Society and was once the Recreation Center Director for the New York City Police Athletic League.In 1968, John accepted a job in Indiana to manage residents enrolled in the U.S. Job Corps, a federal anti-poverty program aimed at helping at-risk youth. Ultimately the move split the Woodruff family and led to divorce. In 1970, John married his current wife Rose, and they relocated with the Job Corps to Hightstown, New Jersey. John retired from the Jobs Corps later that year.In 1972 John returned to Germany to watch the Munich Olympic Games as a special guest of the government. And for many years he made the annual trip to Philadelphia officiate at the Penn Relays. For generations of runners he has served as a role model – and for many, as a friend. Until their deaths John maintained relationships with fellow athletes Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, a runner once known as the world’s fastest human being. And he still keeps in touch with 1936 Olympian Margaret Bergmann Lambert, a German high jumper excluded from competition because she was Jewish.Another close friend is Herb Douglas, a 1948 Olympic long jump bronze medalist who calls John Woodruff his mentor. John also inspired many unknown to him personally. For years he was a popular speaker at the Peddie School near his New Jersey home advising students to, “get an education, have courage and never give up.”In the 1970’s John Woodruff donated memorabilia from his track career to his high school and today his Olympic gold medal hangs in the library at the University of Pittsburgh. There are numerous other honors too.The annual John Woodruff Day in Connellsville, Pennsylvania includes a 5k run and walk and scholarships that give new generations opportunities to advance their education. And in 1994, he received the most votes of any athlete selected for the inaugural class of the Penn Relays Wall of Fame.John remains proud of his achievements and says he has no regrets even though he has paid a heavy price for the years of high impact running. After enduring spine surgery, heart problems and a hip replacement, poor circulation caused doctors to amputate both of his legs above the knees in 2001.But his spirit has not dimmed. He remains in touch with friends and an extended family that now includes five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. And he continues to read. His favorite books are the Bible, and novels about great historical figures including Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Albert Einstein.Perhaps the perfect metaphor for his life is the fate of the tree that he carried back from Berlin in 1936. It now stands 78-feet tall. It’s become known as the ‘Woodruff Oak’ and by some accounts it’s the only one of those commemorative gifts still alive and producing fertile acorns.Like the man himself it is a towering presence at Connellsville High and a symbol of strength and resilience that represents John Woodruff’s legacy. Recearch more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was the first African American female horse racing jockey and the first woman to serve as a California horse racing steward.Licensed to ride at Thistledown in North Randall, Ohio, when she was 17 years old, White began her career riding for her father, trainer Raymond White, in June 1971.She finished 11th in her first race, on a gelding named Ace Reward. White earned her first win as a jockey on September 3, 1971, riding Jetolara to victory at Waterford Park (now Mountaineer Park) in Chester, West Virginia.Today in our History – October 29, 1953 – Cheryl White (October 29, 1953 — September 20, 2019) was born. White’s debut on track garnered significant attention. National newspapers covered her first start as a jockey, and she appeared on the cover of the July 29, 1971 issue of Jet Magazine.White is credited with 226 wins and earnings of $762,624 in Thoroughbred racing, but her career also included Quarter Horse, Arabian, Paint, and Appaloosa racing. In total, White estimates that she won about 750 races. As a Thoroughbred rider, White became the first woman to win two races on the same day in two states in 1971 when she rode a winner at Thistledown and then at Waterford. She was also the first female jockey to win five races in one day, accomplishing that feat on October 19, 1983 at Fresno Fair.As an Appaloosa rider, White was the first woman to win the Appaloosa Horse Club’s Jockey of the Year award, scoring the title in 1977, and then again in 1983, 1984, and 1985. She was inducted into the Appaloosa Hall of Fame in 2011.After passing the California Horse Racing Board’s Steward Examination in 1991, White retired from riding in 1992 to become a racing official. She returned to the saddle for appearances in the Lady Legends for the Cure event held by Pimlico Race Course from 2010-2014. Her final ride was aboard Macho Spaces at Pimlico in 2014.Born in Cleveland, White died on September 20, 2019 at the age of 65, in Youngstown, Ohio. “Cheryl was never a great self-promoter, and wasn’t concerned with the politics of racing,” her brother, Raymond White Jr., said in a press release announcing her death. “She just did her thing. She didn’t understand what she had accomplished. I don’t know that she understood her significance, or place in history.” Cheryl White, America’s first black female jockey, passed away at the age of 65 on September 20, 2019. Her memorial was held on October 18 at Thistledown Race Track in Cleveland, OH, where she rode her first race on June 15, 1971 at the age of 17.Cheryl was no stranger to horses growing up. She was born into a horse racing family and was raised on a horse farm. Her father, Raymond White, Sr., was an accomplished Thoroughbred trainer, and her mother, Doris, was a racehorse owner.Over the course of her 21-year career as a jockey, Cheryl won over 750 races. As reported by a recent betchicago article, when asked about her first race at Thistledown, astride a horse named Ace Reward, Cheryl said, “I just wanted those gates to open. I wasn’t nervous and knew I’d be first out and get the lead.”Cheryl was right. Ace Reward started off in the lead in the fifth race at Cleveland’s Thistledown Race Track and for about three-eighths of a mile in the $2,600, six-furlong race, it looked as if the filly would carry her rider to a historic victory. However, the filly lagged and the pair finished last out of 11 horses.Be that as it may, the five-foot-three, 107-pound White, atop her father’s horse, made history as the first black female jockey in the United States. That outing was the first of two scheduled probationary rides for White as she worked toward becoming the first nonwhite woman licensed to jockey.That wouldn’t be the only time Cheryl White would make history.On September 2, 1971, at Waterford Park, Cheryl became the first black woman to win a Thoroughbred horse race in the United States. As a Thoroughbred jockey, she also because the first woman to win two races on the same day in two states when she won a race in Thistledown in Ohio and then another one at Waterford Park in West Virginia. Cheryl accomplished another historic milestone when, on October 19, 1983 at the Fresno Fair, she because the first female jockey to win five races in one day.Cheryl graced the cover of the July 1971 issue of Jet magazine and the front page of The Plain Dealer on June 16, 1971 due to her groundbreaking achievements and for breaking the color barrier in horse racing. She is also in the Appaloosa Hall of Fame, has been nominated for the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Award of Merit by the African American Sports Hall of Fame.Cheryl’s family would like to create a permanent memorial and foundation in her honor. The foundation will help inspire and introduce horses, horse racing, riding and other aspects of the industry to children who are underprivileged and at risk, but will be open to all children no matter their background.To donate to the Cheryl White Memorial Foundation, visit this website. All donations will be put towards the permanent memorial and foundation.“Cheryl was never a great self-promoter, and wasn’t concerned with the politics of racing,” said her brother, Raymond White, Jr. “She just did her thing. She didn’t understand what she had accomplished. I don’t know that she understood her significance, or place in history.”Cheryl is survived by her brother Raymond White, Jr.; nephews Raymond White III, Christopher Scott and Luciano White; niece Nikki White; great-nieces Jocelyn White and Sheena White; great-nephew Raymond White IV; and countless racetrack friends that were her extended family.“Cheryl is a true legend and will be missed terribly by all who love her,” said Raymond. “We are extremely saddened and heartbroken beyond comprehension to have lost Cheryl. She has been taken home by God to join our mother and father, Doris and Raymond White Sr.” Reserach more about this great American champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was the first woman to be licensed as an assistant funeral director in Kanawha County, West Virginia.Remember – “I am convinced of the efficiency of direct action. If our people had used it a generation or two ago, we wouldn’t be witnessing the things today that shock and sadden people of all races.” – Elizabeth Harden GilmoreToday in our History – October 28, 1938 – Elizabeth Harden Gilmore, a business leader and civil rights advocate and as a funeral director on November 12, 1940.She opened the Harden and Harden Funeral Home in 1947 (now a National Historic site).She pioneered efforts to integrate West Virginia’s schools, housing, and public accommodations and to pass civil rights legislation enforcing such integration. In the early 1950s, before the Brown v. Board of Education decision mandating school desegregation, Gilmore formed a women’s club which opened Charleston’s first integrated day care center.At about the same time, she succeeded in getting her black Girl Scouts of the USA troop admitted to Camp Anne Bailey near the mountain town of Lewisburg. The two Girl Scouts that she sponsored to integrate Camp Anne Bailey were Deloris Foster and Linda Stillwell.Her Girl Scout Troop, 230 was, also, the first black troop to graduate from Girl Scouting in West Virginia. After co-founding the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1958, she led CORE in a successful one-year-long sit-in campaign at a local department store called The Diamond.In the 1960s, Gilmore served on the Kanawha Valley Council of Human Relations, where she participated in forums on racial differences and where she helped black renters, displaced by a new interstate highway, find housing.Her successful push to amend the 1961 state civil rights law won her a seat on the powerful higher-education Board of Regents. Gilmore was the first African American to receive such an honor. She stayed on the Board from 1969 to the late 1970s, serving one term as vice-president and one term as president. Her tireless commitment to civil and human rights did not end there. She was also involved with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and community education and welfare committees.Elizabeth Harden Gilmore was a Charleston funeral director and a pioneer in the civil right movement in West Virginia. Gilmore was a leader and one of the founders of the local chapter of Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) that led sit-ins throughout Charleston.She also worked to secure the admission of African American Girl Scouts into the previously all-white Camp Anne Bailey. Gilmore led the first sit-in against the Diamond Department Store’s lunch counter in Downtown Charleston. Thanks to her leadership, the store opened the lunch counter to African American patrons in 1960. In 1988, Gilmore’s home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.Efforts continue to restore the home and operate it in a way that honors Gilmore’s legacy.The Harden-Gilmore house was constructed in 1900 by an Italian immigrant and contractor, Dominic Minotti. Minotti also built the piers on the bridges that connect Kanawha City and South Charleston with Charleston. After several years of retirement, Minotti passed away in 1925. In the mid-1930s, Minotti’s wife passed away and the house became a boarding house for a brief period, and was then put up for sale. Elizabeth Harden Gilmore, the first woman to be a licensed funeral director in Kanawha County, purchased the home in 1947.Elizabeth Harden Gilmore bought the home, with her husband, when she was in her late 30s. They remodeled it to serve as both their home and funeral parlor, Harden and Harden Funeral Home. The ownership of the black funeral home in Charleston, WV, gave Gilmore a sense of recognition as a leader in the black community. Gilmore took this leadership seriously, and became a key figure in the civil rights movement in West Virginia. Gilmore fought for her daughter’s right to be admitted into Camp Anne Bailey. Her daughter’s Girl Scout troop was the first African American group to be admitted into the camp.Gilmore also co-founded the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE, in 1958. Serving as the co-chairman and the executive secretary of CORE, Gilmore led the efforts of a sit-in at the local Diamond Department Store. After a year and a half long fight, Gilmore and CORE successfully convinced The Diamond to open their lunch counters to African-Americans. Elizabeth Harden Gilmore was active in an impressive number of civic organizations. She founded a women’s club in the early 1950s that opened and operated the first integrated day care center in Charleston. She served on the community welfare council and on the Executive Board of the Citizens Committee for a West Virginia Human Rights Law, a grassroots organization formed to achieve the passage of an enforceable civil rights law.Due to the efforts of that organization, the state civil rights law were amended in 1961. She was a member of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce (serving on their education task force), an adviser to the Volunteer Service Bureau, and a charter member of the Kanawha Valley Council of Human Relations.During her time on the council, she served as the group’s first Vice President, participated in their Panel of American Women (a public forum focused on race and religion), and worked to get African Americans into homes and neighborhoods that had excluded them in the past through the Clearing House for Open Occupancy Selection Effort.She also participated in the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1969, Gilmore became the first African American appointed to the West Virginia Board of Regents, and eventually served as the vice president and then president. Research more about this great American Champion and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion like many during the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, he successfully filed at least five patents with the United States Patent Office. Among his most significant inventions were a street letter box (U.S. Patent numbers 462,092 and 462,093) and a mechanical device for operating street railway switches (U.S. Patent number 430,118). He also enjoyed a long career as a clerk with the Custom House in Boston, Massachusetts, retiring in 1927 after more than thirty years of service.Today in our History – October 27, 1891 – Black inventor Philip B. Downing receives patent for the street letter box, a precursor of the modern-day mailbox.Born in Providence, Rhode Island on March 22, 1857, Downing came from a prominent background. His father, George T. Downing, was a well-known abolitionist and business owner, while his mother, Serena L. deGrasse, had family roots in New York City, New York dating back to the mid-1600s. Philip Downing’s grandfather, Thomas Downing, had been born to emancipated parents in Virginia. He also had success in business, establishing Downing’s Oyster House in the financial district of Manhattan in 1825. It quickly became one of the city’s best-known dining and catering establishments. In addition, Thomas Downing played an important role in founding the United Anti-Slavery Society of the City of New York in the mid-1830s.One of six children, Philip Downing spent his childhood in Providence and Newport, Rhode Island, as well as in Washington, D.C., where his father was manager of the U.S. House of Representatives’ dining room. Census records indicate that Downing moved to Boston around 1880. Shortly thereafter, he married Evangeline Howard, and had two children, Antonia Downing and Philip Downing Jr.On June 17, 1890, the U.S. Patent Office approved Downing’s application for “new and useful Improvements in Street-Railway Switches.” His invention allowed the switches to be opened or closed by using a brass arm located next to the brake handle on the platform of the car. It also allowed the switches to be changed automatically in some cases.A little over a year later, on October 27, 1891, his two patents for a street letter box also gained approval. Downing’s design resembled the mailboxes that are now ubiquitous, a tall metal box with a secure, hinged door to drop letters. Until this point, those wishing to send mail usually had to travel to the post office. Downing’s invention would instead allow for drop off near one’s home and easy pick-up by a letter carrier. His idea for the hinged opening prevented rain or snow from entering the box and damaging the mail.More than twenty-five years later, on January 26, 1917, Downing would receive another patent (U.S. Patent number 1243,595), for an envelope moistener, which utilized a roller and a small, attached water tank, to quickly moisten envelopes. The following year saw another successful application (U.S. Patent number 126,9584) for an easily accessible desktop notepad.Philip Downing died in Boston on June 8, 1934. He was 77. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!