Category: African-American Firsts

Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, to Become New Secretary of Smithsonian

Lonnie G. Bunch, III, Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, moderates a panel on the “Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement: Views from the Front Line” at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library. (Photo by Lauren Gerson via commons.wikipedia.org)

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), was appointed the new Secretary of the Smithsonian on Tuesday. According to dcist.com, Bunch is the fourteenth person to hold the position in the Smithsonian’s 173-year history, and the first African American.

As Secretary, Bunch will manage the administration of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, 21 libraries, and the National Zoo. He is also responsible for its $1.5 billion annual budget. Bunch succeeds David J. Skorton, who announced his resignation in December.

“Lonnie has spent 29 years of his life dedicated to the Smithsonian, so he knows the institution inside and out,” said David Rubenstein, the chair of the Smithsonian Board of Regents on Tuesday. The Board met at the Supreme Court earlier in the day unanimously elected Bunch as Secretary.

“He’s also highly regarded by members of Congress and highly respected by our donor base,” Rubenstein added, while also citing Bunch’s “incredible character” and his leadership of the NMAAHC as major assets.

“You’re going to make a historian cry,” Bunch said when he spoke at Tuesday’s press conference. “This is an emotional moment, because the Smithsonian means so much to me personally and professionally.”

Bunch was the first curator for the California African American Museum in Los Angeles in the 1980s and previously served as president and director of the Chicago History Museum from 2000 to 2005. In 2005, Bunch came to the Smithsonian to steward NMAAHC from conception. He shepherded both the David Adjaye-designed structure, did tireless fundraising, and helped build up and curate the museum’s collection from scratch.

The museum has been such a huge success that tickets are still largely required more than two years after opening, with visitors staying for hours longer than at other facilities. In its first year of operation, NMAAHC welcomed nearly 2.4 million visitors and was the fourth-most visited Smithsonian institution.

“It tells the unvarnished truth,” Bunch told DCist on the one-year anniversary of the museum’s opening. “I think there are people who were stunned that a federal institution could tell the story with complexity, with truth, with tragedy, and sometimes resilience.”

Over his tenure, Bunch and his team of curators made it a point to continue building a collection for the museum’s future, including acquiring artifacts from the Black Lives Matter movement, and to integrate D.C.’s own rich history into the fabric of the museum.

Read more: https://dcist.com/story/19/05/28/the-smithsonians-next-secretary-will-be-lonnie-bunch-the-head-of-the-african-american-history-museum/

Inaugural HBCU World Series Starts May 24th, Aims to Diversify College Baseball

According to Yahoo! Sports, the first of what organizations intend to be an annual event will feature the North Carolina A&T Aggies and Southern Jaguars at the Chicago White Sox Guaranteed Rate Field. It will join The Andre Dawson Classic as ways to promote HBCU schools, which are slowly watching their baseball programs fold.

Erwin Prentiss Hill, CEO of Black College Sports Group 360 (BCSG), told HBCU Sports he wants the event to “promote education opportunities to urban youth” who may not know of the schools or how to navigate the college admissions process.

 From HBCU Sports:

“Greatness comes from historically black colleges and universities. The bottom line is to get more urban youth back to our HBCU’s, so that talented young men and women can add to the legacy of our outstanding predominantly black universities.”

Baseball’s decline in lower-income communities

The cost of playing sports can add up quickly for families. It’s especially difficult to have to pay for a glove, cleats, bats and even uniform costs, now that there are fewer programs supported through park or school programs.

Participating on a travel team is even costlier and can require more shuttling around from parents, who might already be working multiple jobs to get by. Little League is so high-stakes it’s must-see TV in August.

Billy Witz covered the lack of African-American players on HBCU rosters Monday for the New York Times and noted the decline of baseball through the eyes of Bethune-Cookman athletic director Lynn Thompson. Thompson said places where he played sandlot ball in the 1960s were paved over for basketball courts and parking lots.

Recently, however, the percentage of black players on Major League Baseball‘s opening-day rosters in 2018 was the highest in six years at 8.4 percent. Between 2012 and 2017, 20 percent of first-round draft picks were African-American. Those numbers are in part due to MLB’s focus on its Urban Youth Academies that started in Compton, California, in 2006 and its Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, launched in 1989.

“It’s been a huge investment for us,” Renee Tirado, MLB’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, said last spring. “Obviously growing the game amongst our players is a priority, so that uptick has definitely been from a concerted effort.”

Perhaps a focus on HBCU baseball will bring those numbers even higher in the coming years.

To read more: https://theshadowleague.com/ncat-southern-inaugural-hbcu-world-series/

Spike Lee, Regina King, “Black Panther” and More Win at 91st Academy Awards

Best Supporting Actress nominee for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ Regina King accepts her Oscar during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2019. (Credit: Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

2019 is arguably the year of #OscarsSoBlack. According to the Los Angeles Times, this year set the record for the most individual Black winners of Academy Awards, with seven victors in six categories.

Regina King kicked it all off by winning first award of the evening for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Already a recipient of a Golden Globe for the same role, King gave an emotional, touching acceptance speech.

“To be standing here, representing one of the greatest artists of our time, James Baldwin, is a little surreal,” King said. “James Baldwin birthed this baby, and Barry [Jenkins, the director], you nurtured her, you surrounded her with so much love and support. So it’s appropriate for me to be standing here because I am an example of what happens when support and love is poured into someone.”

“Black Panther” collaborators Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler made history with their wins, becoming the first African Americans to take home Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design, respectively.

“Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we made him an African king,” Carter said. Among those she thanked was director Ryan Coogler, whom she called “a guiding force.”

Beachler also acknowledged Coogler in her acceptance speech. “I stand here with agency and self-worth because of [director] Ryan Coogler, who not only made me a better designer, a better storyteller, a better person. When you think things are impossible, remember ‘I did my best, and my best is good enough.’”

Spike Lee accepts the Oscar for adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman.” (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Spike Lee, along with writers Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott (who is black), won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Black KkKlansman.”

After full-body hugging presenter (and “Jungle Fever” alum) Samuel L. Jackson, in his acceptance speech Lee paid tribute to his grandmother, whose mother was a slave, who lived to be 100 years old and put him through Morehouse College and New York University film school.

Lee also made the first direct political comments of the night: “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize, let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate,” he said.

“Let’s do the right thing!” Lee added. “You know I had to get that in there.”

Additionally, Peter Ramsey, co-director of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” won for Best Animated Feature.

Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor award for the second time in his career for his portrayal of pianist Don Shirley in “Green Book.” That movie also went on later in the evening to win the Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture categories.

Below is the full list of winners:

Best Picture

“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book” (WINNER)
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”
“Vice”

Director

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma” (WINNER)
Adam McKay, “Vice”

Lead Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite” (WINNER)
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Lead Actor

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (WINNER)
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Original Song

“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice (WINNER)
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Original Score

“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson (WINNER)
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Adapted Screenplay

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee (WINNER)
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters Continue reading “Spike Lee, Regina King, “Black Panther” and More Win at 91st Academy Awards”

Dr. Saint Elmo Brady, 1st African American to Earn Ph.D. in Chemistry, Honored With a National Historic Chemical Landmark

Dr. Saint Elmo Brady (Credit: University of Illinois Archives)

According to jbhe.com, Dr. Saint Elmo Brady, the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry, has been honored by the American Chemical Society with a National Historic Chemical Landmark dedicated to him on the University of Illinois campus, where Brady earned his Ph.D. in 1916.

Additionally, plaques in his memory will be mounted on the campuses of four HBCUs where he served on the faculty: Fisk University, Tuskegee University, Howard University, and Tougaloo College.

Dr. Brady was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1884. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Fisk in 1908. After graduating from Fisk, he taught for four years at Tuskegee before leaving to earn his Ph.D. at U. of Illinois. He returned to teach at Tuskegee once again, followed by positions at Tougaloo, Howard, and Fisk. He served as chair of the chemistry departments at both Howard and Fisk. Dr. Brady passed away on December 25, 1966.

“This landmark designation recognizes the outstanding accomplishments and leadership impact that Dr. Brady has had on the chemical profession,” says ACS Immediate Past President Peter K. Dorhout, who presented the plaque at the designation ceremony on February 5.

“I am proud to be an alumnus of the university that was part of his legacy — dreaming, designing and executing the creation of four outstanding and impactful chemistry programs that have each worked to ensure access to higher education and the chemical professions for so many young African-American men and women over the last century.”

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/02/saint-elmo-brady-honored-with-a-national-historical-chemical-landmark/

BHM: Meet Mary Eliza Mahoney, 1st Licensed African-American Nurse in U.S.

Mary Eliza Mahoney (photo via essence.com)

If you are a medical professional (particularly a Black medical professional), or just an overall Black history buff, you likely have heard of Mary Eliza Mahoney.

For those who have been denied tales of Mahoney’s excellence, she is heralded as the first African-American licensed nurse.

Mahoney worked in nursing for almost 40 years before retiring, but during her time as a medical professional, as well as long after, she was a champion of women’s rights. A trailblazer, not just as a Black person, but also as a woman.

Mahoney’s story starts in 1845 in Boston, where she was born to freed slaves. Her exact date of birth is unknown, but she is believed to have been born in the spring, the National Women’s History Museum notes.

Even as a teenager, Mahoney knew she wanted to become a nurse, and she began working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, which, as its name suggests, provided health care exclusively to women and their children. At the time, the hospital was also known for its all-women staff of doctors.

There, Mahoney worked from the ground up over the next 15 years, in jobs such as janitor, cook and washerwoman, while also seizing the opportunity to work as a nurse’s aide.

The hospital operated one of the first nursing schools in the United States, and as you can probably guess, in 1878 a then 33-year-old Mahoney was allowed to enter the hospital’s professional graduate school for nursing. During the intensive 16-month training program, students attended lectures and got hands-on experience in the hospital.

The program was rigorous, and according to the Women’s History Museum, of the 42 students who entered the program, only four, including Mahoney, completed the requirements in 1879. In the same breath, she became the first Black person in the U.S. to earn a professional nursing license.

Mahoney would go on to serve as a private-duty nurse for the remainder of her impeccable career (she decided against public nursing because of the rampant discrimination there) and became known across the East Coast for her “efficiency, patience and caring bedside manner,” according to the Women’s History Museum.

A staunch advocate of those within the profession, Mahoney became a member of the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (NAAUSC, later known as the American Nurses Association) in 1896. But she faced discrimination at NAAUSC, which had a predominantly white membership, so Mahoney took it upon herself to co-found the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908.

Keep reading: https://www.essence.com/black-history-month-2019/mary-eliza-mahoney-the-first-black-nurse/

Battalion Chiefs Queen Anunay and Kishia Clemencia Rise Through Male-Dominated Ranks of D.C.’s Fire Department

Battalion Chiefs Queen Anunay, left, and Kishia Clemencia in Washington. Both lead mostly male teams in a field dominated by men. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Young cadets Queen Anunay and Kishia Clemencia stood out in their class at the D.C. Fire Academy as being among the few women in a male-dominated field. Of the department’s 1,550 members at the time, 35 were women.

Fast forward nearly three decades, and Anunay and Clemencia are the ones in charge.

The two women were appointed in recent months to battalion chief posts at the department — promotions that made them the third and fourth women to hold the positions in the 135-year-old department’s history. There were no women among the department’s 41 battalion chiefs late last year before their promotions.

In their new roles, Anunay, 45, and Clemencia, 44, help oversee nearly 100 firefighters at 11 firehouses in the District. They were selected among a pool of 44 candidates — the only two women who qualified during an interview process measuring their preparedness for the high-ranking position.

“They will create a path for all of our young, female firefighters that shows them, ‘Oh, I can do that. That’s within my reach.’ ” D.C. Fire Chief Gregory M. Dean said. “They’re pioneers.”

Keep reading: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/theyre-pioneers-two-women-rise-through-the-male-dominated-ranks-of-dcs-fire-department/2019/02/07/95184c1a-2572-11e9-81fd-b7b05d5bed90_story.html?utm_term=.11ddd038eccc

BHM: Extra! Extra! Read All About Ethel Payne, “First Lady of the Black Press”

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Now that the government shutdown is over and national museums are open again (unless that mess happens again), Black History Month is an especially poignant time to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) if you are in the D.C. area.

I had the good fortune to visit NMAAHC two years ago, and still remember acutely its “Making a Way out of No Way” exhibit, which focusses on the six avenues African-Americans pursued post-slavery to gain equity and agency in the United States – Activism, Enterprise, Organization, Education, Faith, and… the Press.

Because of my lifelong interest in journalism, I am personally drawn to stories about the Black Press, which has existed in some form since antebellum times (the first black publication of record is the Freedom Journal in 1827), and exists to this day.

Yet so many don’t know about its rich history and how its presence and its reporters not only served often unrecognized communities, but also were (and still are) deeply involved in activism and social justice at every turn in every era on local, state and national levels.

Enter Ethel Lois Payne.

Long before former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to call out American Urban Radio Networks’ correspondent April Ryan for giving him what he thought was a disrespectful headshake while simply trying to do her job, Ethel Payne was agitating White House officials in the press room on a daily.

Payne set the standard in the 1950s when she became one of only three black journalists to be credentialed as a member of the White House Press Corps.

Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press,” Payne was a columnist, lecturer, and freelance writer. She combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s, and was known for asking questions others dared not ask.

It was just unheard of for blacks to be standing up and asking presidents impertinent questions and particularly a black woman. – Ethel Payne

Payne became the first female African-American commentator employed by a national network when CBS hired her in 1972. In addition to her reporting of American domestic politics, she also covered international stories, and questioned every president from Eisenhower to Reagan.

As Payne’s biographer, James McGrath Morris, who wrote Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press says, “Her not being known today is really a legacy of segregation, in that she was iconic to a large segment of the U.S. population, but like most black institutions, the Chicago Defender was entirely invisible to white Americans. So the notion of discussing civil rights with the President of the United States, in that case Eisenhower, she felt she was part of ‘the problem’ and couldn’t pursue typical objective reporting. Instead she adopted a measure of being fair. It may seem like a small distinction but it wasn’t. Her questions were laden with an agenda.”

Born in Chicago, Illinois, the granddaughter of slaves, Payne’s father worked as a Pullman Porter, one of the best jobs open to African Americans in those times. He died at age forty-six after contracting an deadly infection from handling soiled linens and clothes on the train, when Ethel was fourteen years old. Her mother then took various domestic jobs to support the family, which made it difficult to educate all of her children.

Ethel spent her childhood in the predominantly black neighborhood of West Englewood bit attended Chicago public schools, notably the mostly white Lindblom Technical High School. Payne longed to be a writer and pushed to continue her education at Crane Junior College and the Chicago Training School for City, Home, and Foreign Missions.

Continue reading “BHM: Extra! Extra! Read All About Ethel Payne, “First Lady of the Black Press””

BHM: Let’s Honor Oprah! Entrepreneur, Media Maven, Philanthropist, Actor, Influencer… Genius

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Not many people on Earth have their names become synonymous with genius in their profession, let alone genius in general. Einstein, Shakespeare, Mozart, even Spielberg and Prince easily come to mind. Notably, they are all men, mostly White, and only one is known by his first name. But when you say, “Hey, where are the women? What women do you think of when someone says ‘Who are the geniuses?,'” an immediate response would (or should) be… Oprah.

It may seem like opinion, but I want to go on record that saying “Oprah Winfrey is a genius” is a fact, and one that should be touted widely. Oprah’s status as a cultural icon, media mogul and inspirational leader is taken as a given, but when you look back and reflect on her journey from rural poverty in Mississippi to global icon, you too will recognize how much intelligence, excellence and genius it took to get there and what’s more – stay there.

What follows below in regards to recognizable achievement, vision and success rightfully will only add credence to the “Oprah Winfrey is a genius” fact, but I submit that the secret sauce of Oprah’s claim to that title has been best articulated (and realized) by Oprah herself:

Everybody has a calling. And your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you were meant to be, and to begin to honor that in the best way possible for yourself. – Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Gail Winfrey, originally named “Orpah” after the biblical figure in the Book of Ruth but had it misspelled and mispronounced so much that “Oprah”  stuck, recently celebrated her 65th birthday on January 29, 1954. Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, an unmarried teenage mother and housemaid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when Oprah was born.

According to wikipedia.org, Winfrey spent her first six years living with her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee, who was so poor that Winfrey often wore dresses made of potato sacks, and the local children made fun of her. Her grandmother, ever in Oprah’s corner, taught her to read before the age of three and took her to church, where she was nicknamed “The Preacher” for her preternatural ability to recite Bible verses and command the stage.

Despite parental neglect from her mother, sexual abuse by family members from the age of nine, and the stillbirth of a son at age 14, Oprah’s intellect and ability to speak powerfully in public earned her a full ride to HBCU Tennessee State University on an Oratory Scholarship.

As Oprah honed her skills through education and experience, she became the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. Oprah then became an anchor in the larger market of Baltimore, MD before taking over the hosting position of low-rated AM Chicago in 1984.

Oprah aligned her talents, smarts, professionalism and relatability to catapult her over Phil Donahue’s long-venerated talk show Donahue for the top-rated slot. Oprah then wisely took advice from movie critic Roger Ebert to make a syndication deal with King World Media and have ownership in her program – the beginning of the Oprah brand.

The Oprah Winfrey Show debuted September 8, 1986 and topped daytime talk show ratings for 25 years until she retired from the show. Oprah really hit her stride and pinpointed her brand when she followed her instincts in the 1990s to shift away from “tabloid-style” shows to ones with a focus on literature, self-improvement, mindfulness and spirituality. Even though she briefly took a ratings dip during the change, she soared to the top again and outlasted several popular talk show hosts of the time such as Sally Jesse Raphael, Ricki Lake, Montel Williams, Donahue, Jenny Jones, and Jerry Springer. Continue reading “BHM: Let’s Honor Oprah! Entrepreneur, Media Maven, Philanthropist, Actor, Influencer… Genius”

BHM: “Ain’t I A Woman?” The Life and Legacy of Abolitionist and Activist Sojourner Truth

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

It’s February 1st, which means it is now officially Black History Month! Although we here at Good Black News celebrate the achievements of Black people every day of the year, it is always lovely when the rest of the U.S. joins in to do the same for at least 28 of them. So, for #BHM2019, GBN will be highlighting the achievements of black women, past and present, who have and are paving the way to a better future.

Sojourner Truth Google Doodle (via google.com)

And what better person to start with than today’s Google Doogle, abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth, who, with “Ain’t I A Woman?” gave one of the most powerful and unforgettable American speeches of all time on what we now call intersectionality?

In 2014, Sojourner Truth was included in Smithsonian Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” – yet the majority of Americans don’t know who she was, what she did, or they confuse her with Harriett Tubman.

Born Isabella (“Bell”) Baumfree circa 1797, Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, in 1828 she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.

She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside “testifying the hope that was in her.” Her best-known speech was delivered extemporaneously, in 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

The speech became widely known during the Civil War by the title Ain’t I a Woman?,” a variation of the original speech re-written by someone else using a stereotypical Southern dialect. Truth was from New York and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language, and had a Dutch accent. During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war, she tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sojourner_Truth)

There are a lot of other events and details in Truth’s life, of course, including collaboration with Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, President Abraham Lincoln and varied suffragists and women’s groups – Truth was known for her persuasive speeches against slavery as well as sexism – she even once defiantly opened her top and showed her breasts during a speech when she was accused of being a man.  

But what is remarkable and often not mentioned is that she is likely the first black woman in the U.S. to attain national fame (she sold photos and autographs of herself at events to make money “I sell the shadow to support the substance”) and the first to have her voice heard in America. It is also rather ironic that many of the records of her speeches were written by white men, and thus often altered to their perception of a black, female, former slave.

Some would quote that she had 13 children who were sold away from her (she had 5 and raised most of them) or say she was raving when she was calm. Truth’s was a 19th-century case of what is all too familiar today – media distortion by the dominant culture trying to make sense of “the other”- and in her instance, white men trying to process the experiences and truths of black women.

However, Truth was self-possessed – she claimed her ownership of herself by renaming herself and writing her own Narrative in 1850. Truth traveled and spoke to hostile, indifferent and embracing crowds, fought for women’s rights and black women’s right to vote, fought for land grants and reparations for former slaves, prison reform and the end of capital punishment.

Truth was in her 80s when she died at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1999, a 12-foot high monument was built in Battle Creek to honor her. The calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church remembers Truth annually, and the Lutheran Church calendar of saints remembers her on the same day as Harriet Tubman. 

In 2009, Truth became the first black woman honored with a bust in the U.S. Capitol.

Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton honoring Sojourner Truth as her likeness is added to U.S. Capitol (photo via sfgate.com)

To learn more about Truth, you can read her autobiography The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, the biography Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter, and for children, Who Was Sojourner Truth?  or My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth written by Ann Turner and illustrated by James Ransome.

To watch a mini-biography on Truth on biography.com, go to: http://www.biography.com/video/sojourner-truth-mini-biography-11191875531

Berklee College Professor Julius P. Williams Becomes 1st African-American President of the Conductors Guild

Julius P. Williams (photo via wikipedia.org)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to jbhe.com, Julius P. Williams has been named President of the Conductors Guild, a global membership organization comprised of conductors of symphony, opera, ballet, choral, band, contemporary, and chamber ensembles. Dr. Williams is the first African American president in Conductors Guild history, and began his two-year term in earlier this month.

Williams is a Professor of Composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston currently, as well as artistic director and conductor of the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra. His other positions include music director and conductor of Trilogy: An Opera Company in New Jersey, composer with the Boston Symphony Orchestra‘s “Composer-in-Residence Project.” Williams also works with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

“The appointment of Julius Williams as president of Conductors Guild is both meaningful and newsworthy. Maestro Williams has not only the stellar credentials, but the right vision, breadth and leadership, to set a powerful example for our field,” said Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of The Sphinx Organization. “We applaud the Conductors Guild on this news and look forward to many inspiring programs and ideas that will undoubtedly emerge!”

Throughout his career, Williams has conducted ensembles at Carnegie Hall, and performances with orchestras in Dallas, Savannah, Hartford, Sacramento, Tulsa, and Knoxville, as well as the Harlem Symphony, Armor Artist Chamber Orchestra, Connecticut Opera, and the Kalistos Chamber Orchestra in Boston.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/01/julius-p-williams-becomes-first-african-american-president-of-the-conductors-guild/