Tag: history

40 Years Ago Today: Tom Bradley Becomes First African-American Mayor of Los Angeles

(Photo: Sam Mircovich / Reuters)

On May 29, 1973, Tom Bradley became the first African-American elected mayor of Los Angeles. In that election, he defeated incumbent Sam Yorty with 56 percent of the vote. The win was considered trailblazing by historians, taking into account the city’s largely white population at the time.

Bradley served in office from 1973 to 1993, giving him the longest tenure as mayor in the city’s history before term limits were passed by voters in 1990. He ran for governor in 1982 and 1986, but was defeated each time by George Deukmejian. His loss in 1982 gave birth to the term “the Bradley effect” in U.S. politics, underlining the inconsistencies between voter opinion polls and actual election outcomes when a white candidate runs against a minority. Bradley retired from political life in 1993.

In March 1996, he suffered a heart attack and later a stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. He suffered a second heart attack and passed away on Sept. 29, 1998 at the age of 80.

article by Britt Middleton via bet.com

49 Years Ago Today: Muhammad Ali Wins 1st World Heavyweight Championship (VIDEO)

Ali Sonny Liston

Considered the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali (pictured left) possessed formidable ability coupled with a personality that gained him both fans and detractors. With his tall stature and unorthodox fighting style, Ali dazzled audiences and frustrated opponents with a seemingly limitless vault of skills. On this day and at the age of 22, Ali would defeat reigning champion Sonny Liston (pictured) to capture his first world title.

Ali went by his birth name Cassius Clay during the time of the bout, and the Louisville native was not favored to win after Liston handily defeated former champion Floyd Patterson twice by this point.

Leading up to the bout at the Convention Hall at Miami Beach, Ali uttered one of his many famous phrases and promised to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” during the clash. Liston was feared for his imposing build and punching power but, as Ali artfully stated, the leaner and younger opponent picked apart his lumbering foe with ease.

While Liston finally did get going, Ali used his speed and athleticism to pepper his opponent’s head with jabs and big shots.

Ali Sonny Liston

While Ali predicted he would win by knockout in the eighth round, he ended upneeding less time than he thought.

After reportedly injuring his shoulder after missing several huge blows, Liston would not answer the bell for the start of the seventh round.

While in the ring, the animated Ali made another famous reference during an interview shortly after the bout. “I shook up the world,” shouted Ali at the top of his lungs. “I must be the greatest!”

article by D.L. Chandler via newsone.com

Black History Month: Remembering African-American Women who Have Served

When outgoing defense secretary Leon Panetta lifted the military ban against women serving in combat, a common phrase heard in response to his decision was this: women have been serving for decades in combat zones indirectly, and risking their lives. The lifting of the ban was merely a formality that in many ways acknowledged the bravery and sacrifices women in the military have been making for decades.

New York’s Daily News has published an essay with a similar theme in honor of black women to commemorate Black History Month. Much as women in general have been contributing without appreciation for their level of service, the significant participation of African-American women in the military has been largely overlooked — perhaps to an even greater extent.

“According to the Indiana-based Buffalo Soldiers Research Museum, African-American women have played a role in every war effort in United States history,” writes Jay Mwamba of the Daily News. “And black women participated in spite of the twin evils of racial and gender discrimination.”

Nwamba goes on to recount the heroic feats of black women who fought for the American way in creative, mind-blowing ways, pushing themselves to the limit to enhance various military efforts. Harriet Tubman, who acted as a spy, nurse and scout during the Civil War. Cathay Williams, who, after being freed from a plantation by a Union contingent, pretended to be a man so that she could enlist in a peacetime army.

“For two years — until she fell ill and her ruse was discovered — Williams served as a Buffalo Soldier with the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment,” Mwamba relates.

Now that is truth being stranger than fiction.

But we don’t have to go back to 1866, the year Williams enlisted, to find African-American sheroes engaging in daring feats. As recently as 2009, U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Janine Howard used military might to wrestle with forces of darkness. The first black woman to command a Navy combat ship, Howard made headlines when her vessel tangled with Somali pirates in the process of rescuing the captain of a merchant ship from captivity.

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NY Capitol Exhibit Honors New York Abolitionists

An exhibit honoring African-American historical figures opened Monday at New York’s state Capitol to highlight February as “Black History Month.”

Titled “From Slavery to Citizenship: The African American Experience in New York 1817-1872,” the display chronicles contributions black New Yorkers made during the years following the Civil War and emancipation of slaves.

“New York’s history as a progressive leader really began during this time,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Monday. “The courage of the writers, activists and soldiers, both black and white, who confronted racial inequality set a precedent that would inspire the New Yorkers who followed to lead the nation in the struggle against every type of injustice.”

The exhibit’s timeline starts with 1817, when New York passed a law to enact the gradual emancipation of slaves, and ends in 1872, when abolitionist Frederick Douglass became a member of New York’s Electoral College.

The display includes relevant artifacts, biographies and historical narrative. The artifacts are from collections belonging to the state Archives, the state Library and the state Military Museum.

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Journalist Dion Rabouin Challenges U.S. to Redefine Black History Month

black history 2013

Below is the complete text of journalist Dion Rabouin’s recent Huffington Post blog challenging this country to engage in a more comprehensive and far-reaching celebration of African and African-American achievements during Black History Month.  GBN couldn’t agree more, and has added links to his blog for just that purpose.  Enjoy!

Malcolm X was fond of saying, “Our history did not begin in chains.” Yet every year that’s where Black History Month lesson plans in schools across America begin. They begin telling the story of our history — black history — in chains.  Young black school children don’t learn that our people mapped, calculated and erected some of the greatest monuments ever, like the pyramids, the sphinx and the obelisks (after which the Washington Monument is modeled) or that our people were literally the lifeblood of some of history’s greatest civilizations. They don’t learn that calculus, trigonometry and geometry all trace their origins back to African scholars.

Black History Month lessons never begin with Haile Selassi I, ruler of Ethiopia, who could trace his ancestry to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and beyond that to Cush in 6280 B.C. Never mind that Selassi actually has the most ancient lineage of any human being in history.

Black History Month lessons certainly never begin with one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known, Hannibal, an African who conquered and extended the rule of the Carthaginian Empire into Italy, Rome and Spain. Most school children (and most adults, truth be told) don’t even know that Carthage, Hannibal’s homeland, is in Africa.

Continue reading “Journalist Dion Rabouin Challenges U.S. to Redefine Black History Month”

PBS Celebrates Black History Month with Special Programs and New Black Culture Website

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

In celebration of Black History Month and as part of its year-round commitment to diverse programming, PBS announced an on-air lineup commemorating the contributions of African Americans in music, dance, television and civil rights, providing an in-depth look at key figures and events that shaped black – and American – history. In addition to these programs, PBS announced it will launch the PBS Black Culture Connection, a digital storybook of black films, history, trends and discussion that’s available throughout the year on PBS.org as of today, February 1, 2013. 

“PBS’ mission is clear – to provide accessible, educational, informative programs of every genre and culture all year long. Since February is Black History Month, our schedule is heavily focused on the contributions of African Americans,” said Donald Thoms, Vice President, Programming. “During the month, we are also continuing our commitment to feature stories and films from diverse and independent producers, which remains a staple of our content offerings year round.”

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Happy Black History Month! Some Ideas on Celebrating with Kids and Family

Martin Luther King statue

Perhaps you want to share the important history of African Americans with your children, but know you need to brush up on your facts first. So where should you begin?

Define it

The best way to start teaching yourself about Black History Month is to begin with the definition. What exactly is this 28-day tribute in February? Also known as African-American History Month, Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African-Americans in U.S. history. The event used to be known as Negro History Week and was extended to a month-long observance in 1976.

Read up

50 Black WOmen Who Changed America

If your child is school-aged, he’s definitely being taught about the importance of Black History Month in his classroom. But there’s a lot you can do to reinforce the learning at home. To educate your little one — and yourself — about Black History Month, head to the library and check out one of the hundreds of books on the subject. Any of these options (and more) can start an important discussion about racial diversity between you and your child.

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Eight Fascinating Facts About Martin Luther King Jr.

The Martin Luther King Memorial is seen

At this time of year there are many different posts about Martin Luther King Jr.  Here are eight facts that are not commonly discussed:

Fact 1:  He was born Michael Luther King, Jr. January 15, 1929 in  Atlanta, Georgia.

Fact 2:  His father, Michael King, Sr., changed their names to Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. when Martin Jr. was about five.

Fact 3: King was the youngest person, at the time, to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Fact 4:  King authored six books published from 1958 through 1968, works on American race relations and collections of his sermons and lectures.

Fact 5: King stood behind President Lyndon B. Johnson as Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

Fact 6: Senate investigations revealed that the FBI illegally bugged King’s hotel rooms and home phone from 1962-1968.

Fact 7:  An ongoing controversy over the inscription on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial which says “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”, is taken from a 1968 King sermon, “If you want to say I was a drum major, say I was a drum major for justice, say I was a drum major for peace, I was a drum major for righteousness and all the other shallow things will not matter.”, at issue is also the cost to repair, change or delete the inscription.

Fact 8:  King met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Lester Grange on problems affecting black Americans. Making it an  interesting  fact that he actually met with two presidents about Civil Rights at different times.

article by Oretha Winston via theurbandaily.com

Born On This Day in 1906: Willa Brown, First Black Female Aviator to Acquire Pilot’s License

Willa Brown
 (Photo: Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution)

Willa Brown, born on Jan. 21, 1906, was one of the pioneer figures in the world of African-American aviators. She was the first Black female officer in the Civil Air Patrol and the first Black woman to hold a commercial pilot’s license in the United States.

Brown was the coordinator of war-training service for the Civil Aeronautics Authority and later was a member of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Women’s Advisory Board.

A native of Glasgow, Kentucky, Brown earned a degree from Indiana State Teachers College and a master’s degree from the Aeronautical University in Chicago. She later earned a master’s in business administration from Northwestern University. She and her husband, Cornelius Coffey, formed the Coffey School of Aeronautics to train African-American pilots. Brown retired in 1971 as a schoolteacher. She died of a stroke in 1992.

article by Jonathan P. Hicks via bet.com 

R.I.P. James Hood, Student Activist Who Fought Segregation at University of Alabama

FILE - In this June 9, 1963 file photo, James A. Hood and Vivian J. Malone of Alabama pose in New York. Alabama Gov. George Wallace said he would personally bar them from registering at the University of Alabama despite a restraining order. (AP Photo/John Lindsay, File)
In this June 9, 1963 file photo, James A. Hood and Vivian J. Malone of Alabama pose in New York. Alabama Gov. George Wallace said he would personally bar them from registering at the University of Alabama despite a restraining order. (AP Photo/John Lindsay, File)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — One of the first black students who enrolled at the University of Alabama a half century ago in defiance of racial segregation has died. James Hood of Gadsden was 70.  Officials at Adams-Buggs Funeral Home in Gadsden said they are handling arrangements for Hood, who died Thursday.

Then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace made his infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” in a failed effort to prevent Hood and Vivian Malone from registering for classes at the university in 1963.  Hood and Malone were accompanied by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach when they were confronted by Wallace as they attempted to enter the university’s Foster Auditorium to register for classes and pay fees.

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