Category: History

Born On This Day: Legendary Activist and Community Leader El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (aka Malcolm X)

by Princess Gabbara via thegrio.com

To celebrate what would have been the 93rd birthday of black nationalist and leader ElHajj Malik El-Shabazz – better known as Malcolm X – activists, comrades and relatives are coming together to salute the Civil Rights leader’s contributions to the Black community on a global level. Malcolm X’s birthday still isn’t recognized as a national holiday in the U.S., but that hasn’t stopped New York City grassroots activists from recognizing May 19 as Malcolm X Day for the past 53 years.

This morning, a caravan of vehicles gathered at the corner of 126thStreet and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, and then made their way to Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, where Malcolm X and his beloved wife, Betty Shabazz, are buried. Malcolm X’s sister and Organization of Afro-American Unity President Ella Collins started the 53-year-old tradition.

Later in the evening, Malcolm X’s daughters Ilyasah and Malaak Shabazz are expected to take the stage and reflect on the legacy of their parents at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Educational and Memorial Center on Broadway, according to the Amsterdam News. Malcolm X was assassinated at age 39 on February 21, 1965, having been struck 16 times by a hail of bullets.

The King Center, the official living memorial dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., commemorated Malcolm X’s birthday in a heartfelt tweet imploring revelers to celebrate the real icon, who, it says, was so much more than the villain the media and government tried to portray.

Source: Happy Birthday, Malcolm X: our shining Black prince would have been 93

Sean Combs is Revealed as Buyer of $21.1 Million Kerry James Marshall “Past Times” Painting

“Past Times” by Kerry James Marshall sold for $21.1 million on Wednesday to the music mogul Sean Combs (image via Sotheby’s)

Ever since the sale at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night of “Past Times,” a monumental painting by Kerry James Marshall with a narrative centered on black experiences, many people have been speculating about which collector or museum might have placed the winning $21.1 million bid. The sale was an auction high for Mr. Marshall, and it was widely reported to be the most ever paid for the work of a living African-American artist.

On Thursday night, Jack Shainman, Mr. Marshall’s gallerist and dealer in New York, told The Times that the buyer was Sean Combs, the entrepreneur, fashionista, Grammy Award-winning record producer and subject of the documentary “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story.”

“I know that this work has found a home in a collection with purpose and an eye toward preserving legacy — that of Sean Combs, and that means a lot,” said Mr. Shainman, who has represented Mr. Marshall since his first show at the gallery in 1993.

The dealer said Mr. Combs was introduced to the painter’s work by a friend and sometime musical collaborator, the hip-hop recording artist and record producer Swizz Beatz. Swizz Beatz is also an avid art collector with his wife, Alicia Keys. Mr. Combs viewed the painting at Sotheby’s before the sale.

To read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/18/arts/sean-combs-kerry-james-marshall.html

Captain Tara Wright and First Officer Mallory Cave Make Alaska Airlines History as its 1st African-American Female Flight Crew

Captain Tara Wright and 1st Officer Mallory Cave of Alaska Airlines (photo via ktva.com)

via ktva.com

Alaska Airlines marked a milestone on Mother’s Day, as one of its West Coast flights became the first to be flown by two black women.

Tara Wright, the captain of Flight 361 from San Francisco to Portland, stepped out of the cockpit to introduce herself and first officer Mallory Cave to passengers before their Boeing 737’s Sunday takeoff.

After mentioning that Sunday was Mother’s Day, as well as her father’s 80th birthday, Wright sprung her surprise in a Facebook video.

“Finally, you’re sharing a pretty interesting piece of Alaska Airlines history this morning,” she told passengers, who began bursting into applause. “You’ll be piloted by two female African-American pilots for the first time in the airline’s history.”

Alaska Airlines – which was formed in a 1932 merger and took its current name in 1944 – subsequently shared Wright’s video to its Facebook page. Its post called the moment “history in the flying,” adding that Wright and Cave were following in the footsteps of Bessie Coleman — America’s first black woman to make a public flight in 1922.

Sunday’s flight has special relevance in the airline industry, where more than 72 percent of employees are white and 60 percent are male according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. A 2015 breakdown of airline data from the bureaushowed even greater diversity issues among flight crews, in which 91 percent of airline pilots and 73 percent of flight attendants were white; just 9 percent of pilots were female, versus nearly 75 percent of flight attendants.

Airline officials declined to discuss details Thursday on the racial or gender diversity of its pilot corps, which includes nearly 2,000 pilots with Alaska and almost 840 more flying with Virgin America after it was acquired by Alaska in 2016.

To read more, go to: http://www.ktva.com/story/38218189/alaska-airlines-sees-first-ever-black-female-flight-crew

Henrietta Lacks, “The Mother of Modern Science,” to be Honored with Painting by Kadir Nelson in National Portrait Gallery

Collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Kadir Nelson and the JKBN Group LLC. (image via nmaahc.si.edu)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Smithsonian Institute, next Tuesday, its National Portrait Gallery will recognize and honor the life of Henrietta Lacks with the installation of a 2017 portrait by Kadir Nelson on the museum’s presentation wall on the first floor. The portrait was jointly acquired by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture as a gift from Nelson and the JKBN Group LLC, and will be shared by the two museums. The painting will be on display at the Portrait Gallery through Nov. 4.

Lacks, a mother of five, lost her life to cervical cancer at age 31. During her treatment, doctors took cells from her body and discovered they lived long lives and reproduced indefinitely in test tubes. These “immortal” HeLa cells have since contributed to over 10,000 medical patents, aiding research and benefiting patients with polio, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions.

Considering the history of medical testing on African Americans without their permission, the fate of Lacks raised questions about ethics, privacy and racism. Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, addressed those issues and later prompted Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions to adapt her story into a theatrical movie that first aired on HBO in 2017.

“It is fitting that Henrietta Lacks be honored at two Smithsonian museums, as each approaches American history from unique and complementary perspectives,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Lacks’ story presents moral and philosophical questions around issues of consent, racial inequalities, the role of women, medical research and privacy laws, providing rich platforms for historical understanding and public dialogue.”

“The National Museum of African American History and Culture has always felt that the story of Henrietta Lacks is a significant and important moment that deserved greater recognition,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the museum.

Commissioned by HBO, Nelson used visual elements to convey Lacks’ legacy. The wallpaper features the “Flower of Life,” a symbol of immortality; the flowers on her dress recall images of cell structures; and two missing buttons allude to the cells taken from her body without permission.

Winston-Salem State University’s Wanda Brown Elected President of the American Library Association

American Library Association President Wanda K. Brown (photo via bcala.org)

via jbhe.com

Wanda K. Brown, the director of library services at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, was named president-elect of the American Library Association. She will serve as president-elect for one year and then will take over the presidency at the conclusion of the association’s 2019 annual meeting.

The American Library Association was founded in 1853. It has more than 57,000 members worldwide. Brown will be the first president who is a librarian at a historically Black college or university.

Before joining the staff at Winston-Salem State University in 2016, Brown was associate dean of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. She joined the staff at Wake Forest in 1977. Brown is a former president of the North Carolina Library Association and former president of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Brown is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University and holds a master of library and information science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

To learn more about other pioneering African-American librarians, click here.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/04/winston-salem-state-universitys-wanda-brown-to-lead-the-american-library-association/

Betsey Stockton and James Collins Johnson, Former Slaves with Ties to Princeton University, Have Campus Locations Named in their Honor

Betsey Stockton (photo via jbhe.com)
James Collins Johnson (photo via paw.princeton.edu)

via jbhe.com

The board of trustees of Princeton University in New Jersey has voted to honor two former slaves who played a role in the university’s early history. A new green roof garden at the Firestone Library will honor Betsey Stockton and an arch in the East Pyne building on campus will honor James Collins Johnson.

Betsey Stockton was born into slavery in Princeton at the end of the eighteenth century. She worked in the home of Ashbel Green president of Princeton University. After gaining her freedom, she established a missionary school for native Hawaiian children. She later started a school for Black children in Philadelphia and taught for 30 years in the only public school in Princeton for African American children. Stockton died in 1865.

Jimmy Johnson was a fugitive slave who arrived in Princeton in 1839. He worked as a janitor until 1843. That year, a student recognized him and had him apprehended as a runaway slave. Local residents raised money to buy Johnson’s freedom and he started a small business selling snacks to Princeton students. Johnson died in 1902. (To learn more of Johnson’s story, click here.)

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/05/princeton-to-name-two-campus-locations-after-former-slaves/

Walk-Up Wednesdays: No Timed Passes Needed for National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesdays in May

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will relax its admission policy for five Wednesdays in May. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

via washingtonpost.com

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will continue its Walk-Up Wednesdays program and allow visitors without passes on the five Wednesdays in May.

Thousands more visitors gained entry to the popular Smithsonian museum on four Wednesdays last month, pushing officials to extend the program into May. April’s Walk-Up Wednesday crowds were larger than its Saturday crowds, typically the museum’s busiest day, according to Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas.

“Clearly it was successful,” St. Thomas said. “It allowed more visitors to enjoy the museum.”

There were 9,500 visitors on April 4, the middle of the busy Easter week, and about 8,900 the second Wednesday, April 11, St. Thomas said. The last two Wednesdays attracted 8,000 and 7,800 visitors, respectively. Those numbers exceeded visitor tallies on all four Saturdays in April, which averaged 6,825.

Visitor numbers also eclipsed Tuesday totals last month, which ranged from 4,500 and 7,000, St. Thomas said.

Since its opening Sept. 24, 2016, the newest Smithsonian museum has welcomed more than 3.5 million visitors. It has used timed passes to control crowd size and reduce lines. St. Thomas said officials were not yet considering eliminating all passes.

The museum has distributed thousands of free passes on the first Wednesday of each month — on May 2 it will distribute passes for August — but many are not used. About 3,000 visitors on each Wednesday in April had advance passes and were given priority entry, according to St. Thomas. No visitors were turned away.

In addition to advance passes, the museum distributes same-day passes online daily at 6:30 a.m. Walk-up admission is available after 1 p.m. weekdays, if capacity allows.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/05/01/no-passes-needed-for-african-american-museum-on-wednesdays-in-may/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.532ebf68f753

Kendrick Lamar Wins Pulitzer Prize for Music for His Grammy-Winning Album ‘Damn’

Kendrick Lamar onstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio on April 23, 2017.
Kendrick Lamar (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Los Angeles Times, Compton native and acclaimed hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his 2017 album “Damn.” It is the first time work outside of the classical and jazz genres has been recognized in that category.

In today’s announcement, the Pulitzer board described the album as a “virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African American life.”

“Damn,” released on April 14, 2017, is Lamar’s fourth studio album following 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” 2012’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” and “Section.80,” released in 2011. In January “Damn” won the Grammy for best rap album and was among the nominees for album of the year.

Linda Oubré Selected as President of Whittier College in California

Whittier College President Linda Oubré (photo via biz journals.com)

via jbhe.com

The board of trustees of Whittier College in California, has chosen Linda Oubré as the educational institution’s fifteenth president. When she takes office on July 1, Dr. Oubré will be the first African American and the first person of color to serve as president of Whittier College.

Whittier College, located east of Los Angeles, enrolls about 1,600 undergraduate students and approximately 450 graduate students, according to the latest statistics supplied to the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up 4 percent of the undergraduate student body. The college’s most famous graduate is Richard M. Nixon.

For the past six years, Dr. Oubré has served as dean of the College of Business at San Francisco State University. Earlier, Dr. Oubré was executive director of corporate relations and business development, and chief diversity officer for the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis.

Dr. Oubré holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/04/linda-oubre-selected-as-the-fifteenth-president-of-whittier-college-in-california/