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Archive for the ‘Black Writers’ Category

Events In African American History For November 06


1. In 1888, R. N. Hyde received Patent for Composition for cleaning & Preserving Carpets

2. In 1900, James Weldon Johnson composes “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sign.” The song becomes the “Black National Anthem.”

3. In 1920, James Weldon Johnson became the first Black executive secretary of the NAACP.

4. In 1920, Spingarn Medal awarded to W.E.B. Du Bois for “the founding and calling of the Pan African Congress.”

5. In 1928,  Spingarn Medal presented to Charles W. Chestnutt, the first Black to receive widespread critical recognition as a novelist. He was cited for his “pioneer work as a literary artist depicting the life and struggle of Americans of Negro descent.”

6. In 1928, Oscar DePriest  is elected to the 71st U.S. Congress from the first Congressional District of Illinois. He was the first black congressman from the North and the first to take a seat in Congress since Jim Crow laws and attitudes drove the last black from Congress in 1901. 

7. In 1962, Augustus F. Hawkins, was elected from Los  Angeles and became the first Black congressman from the West.

8. In 1962,  Edward W. Brooke elected attorney general of Massachusetts.

9. In 1962, Gerald Lamb elected treasurer of Connecticut.

10. In 1962,  Otis M. Smith elected to a full term on the Michigan Supreme Court.

11. In 1973,  Coleman Young was elected mayor of Detroit, becoming one of the first two Black mayors of city’s with over a million citizens.

12. In 1973, Thomas Bradley  elected mayor of Los Angeles. becoming one of the first two Black mayors of city’s with over a million citizens.

13. In 1990, Sharon Pratt Dixon (now Kelly) was elected mayor of Washington, D.C., making this a first for a woman

14. In 1998,  President Bill Clinton approved Public Law 105-355, which established the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site At Moton Field In Tuskegee, AL.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For November 01


1. Margaret Taylor-Burroughs,   Was a prominent  artist and writer and a co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History. She also helped to establish the South Side Community Art Center, whose opening on May 1, 1941  was dedicated by the First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt  . There at the age of 23 she served as the youngest member of its board of directors. Dr. Burroughs was a prolific writer, with her efforts directed toward the exploration of the Black experience and to children, especially to their appreciation of their cultural identity and to their introduction and growing awareness of art.

Dr. Burroughs is also credited as the founder of Chicago’s Lake Meadows Art Fair in the early 1950’s. At its inception, during the 1950’s, there were very limited venues and galleries for African American Artists to exhibit and sell their artwork, Dr. Burroughs, launched the Lake Meadows Art Fair which rapidly grew in popularity and The Lake Meadows Art Fair became one of the most anticipated exhibitions for artists, collectors and others throughout the greater Chicago area. After a brief hiatus beginning in the early 1980’s, the Art Fair was resurrected by Helen Y. West in 2005, and another Margaret Burroughs’ legacy lives on.

2. Gary Eugene Redus,  a former professional baseball player who played in the Major Leagues primarily as an outfielder from 1982-1994. He was a career .252 batter with 90 home runs, 886 hits, 352 RBIs and 322 stolen bases over 1159 games.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For October 30


Gerald Perry

1. Gerald Perry, is a former first baseman in Major League Baseball who played from 1983 to 1995 for the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals. Perry was selected to the 1988 National League All-Star team. In 1993 he tied a St. Louis Cardinal single-season club record with 24 pinch hits, and in 1995 he became the Cardinals’ all-time pinch-hit leader with 70th Cardinal pinch hit.

Perry was hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners from 2000-2002, the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2003-2005, the Oakland Athletics in 2006, and the Chicago Cubs from 2007 until he was fired on June 13, 2009.

Danny Tartabull

3. Danny Tartabull, is a former right fielder in Major League Baseball.  He is the son of José Tartabull, who played in the major leagues from 1962 to 1970.

 Charnele Brown

4. Charnele Brown, actress, producer, and singer. She is perhaps best known for her role as college student Kimberly Reese on the NBC sitcom A Different World.  45  Years ago

 Nia Long

5. Nia Long, actress and occasional music video director. She is best known for her roles in the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Third Watch, and the films Boiler Room, Soul Food, Love Jones, The Best Man, Big Momma’s House, Big Momma’s House 2, Are We There Yet?, and Are We Done Yet?

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans for October 18


1.  Chuck Berry (Charles Edward Anderson Berry),  guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and considered one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958), Chuck Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music.

2. Ntozake Shange( Paulette Williams),  playwright, and poet.   As a self proclaimed black feminist, much of the content of her work addresses issues relating to race and feminism.  Shange is best-known for the Obie Award-winning play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.  She also wrote Betsey Brown, a novel about an African American girl who runs away from home. Among her honors and awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, and a Pushcart Prize.

3.  Terry McMillan, Novelist, editor, and educator, author. Her interest in books comes from working at alibrary when she was sixteen. She received her BA in journalism in 1986 at University of California, Berkeley. Her work is characterized by strong female protagonists.  Her first book, Mama, was self-published.   She achieved national attention in 1992 with her third novel, Waiting to Exhale, which remained on The New York Times bestseller list for many months. In 1995, Forest Whitaker turned it into a film starring Whitney Houston. In 1998, another of McMillan’s novels, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, was made into a movie. McMillan’s novel Disappearing Acts was subsequently produced as a direct-to-cable feature, starring Wesley Snipes and Sanaa Lathan. She also wrote the best seller A Day Late and a Dollar ShortThe Interruption of Everything was published on July 19, 2005. Getting to Happy, the long-awaited sequel toWaiting to Exhale, was published on September 7, 2010.

4.   Tommy Hearns,  retired  boxer. He won 8 world titles in six different weight divisions.  Hearns became the first boxer in history to win world titles in four divisions. He would also become the first fighter in history to conquer 5 world titles in 5 different divisions.  He has scored many memorable knockouts in his career and is widely considered to be one of the greatest knockout artists of all time.  Hearns was voted the greatest Super Welterweight of all time and received the “Fighter of the Year” award in 1980 and 1984.

He fought 21 current, past or future world champions.  Blessed with exceptional height for a welterweight (6’1″), a broad back, and unusually long arms, Hearns had a unique build combined with destructive punching power. He is known best for his devastating right hand, his powerful left hook and for carrying his left hand low—a stance he used to lure foes into an exchange, as well as to maximize the speed and change the angle of his jab, a technique called the “flicker jab”.

As a fighter, his aggression set him apart, controlling fights with his incredible reach, power and great boxing skills. He lost only one decision in his entire career, at the age of 33, to Iran “The Blade” Barkley.

5.   Wynton Learson Marsalis,   Trumpeter, composer, bandleader, music educator, and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Marsalis has promoted the appreciation of classical and jazz music often to young audiences. Marsalis has been awarded nine Grammys in both genres, and was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for Music for a jazz recording.  Marsalis is the son of jazz musician Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (pianist), grandson to Ellis Marsalis, Sr., and brother to Branford (saxophonist),Delfeayo (trombonist), Mboya, and Jason (drummer).

6. Cheryl “Pepsii” Riley-Grace (born October 18, 1968) is an American R&B/gospel singer and actress, best known for her 1988 ballad, “Thanks for My Child.”

Cheryl Riley, who worked as a nurse for handicapped children for ten years before beginning her singing career, topped the US R&B chartand hit the Top 40 on the pop chart at #32 with the 1988 ballad, “Thanks for My Child,” a song written by Full Force. It peaked at #75 in theUK Singles Chart in January 1989.[1] The genesis of “Thanks for My Child” began with Full Force member Bowlegged Lou’s experience with the complications of his wife’s first pregnancy.

As pivotal as “Thanks for My Child” was for Riley’s career, it was not the first song Lou offered to her. She refused his offer to record “I Wonder If I Take You Home” because she did not want to spread herself too thin, but after it became a million-selling hit for Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam in 1985, she thought she had missed her big break. Lou then offered her “Thanks for My Child”. Riley still had her nurse’s job when the song went to number one on the R&B chart.

The title track single to her debut LP Me Myself and I made it to number 18 on the R&B charts in early 1989. Another single, “Every Little Thing About You,” peaked at number 55 on the R&B charts later that year. Her second LP, Chapters, was issued and yielded the singles “How Can You Hurt the One You Love” and a cover of Aretha Franklin’s 1968 hit “Ain’t No Way”. Her third album All That! was released by Reprise, and featured the singles “Gimme” and “Guess I’m in Love.”

After a hiatus from the entertainment industry, Riley re-emerged in the early 2000s as a star in a number of gospel plays for best-selling playwright Tyler Perry, including Madea’s Class ReunionMadea Goes to JailWhy Did I Get Married? and the film version of Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea’s Big Happy Family.

7. Vickie Winans,  Gospel recording artist.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For October 17


Jupiter Hammon
1. Jupiter Hammon, the first black American poet, is born in slavery. He was a Calvinist and a self-educated writer.  He was the first African American to publish his writings.  One of his poems appeared in print in 1760 and is considered one of the founders of African-American literature.

Cozy Cole

2. Cozy Cole (William R. Cole), jazz drummer who scored a #1 Cashbox magazine hit with the record “Topsy Part 2”. “Topsy” peaked at number three on Billboard Hot 100, and at number one on the R&B chart.  It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.  The track peaked at #29 in the UK Singles Chart in 1958. The recording contained a lengthy drum solo, and was one of the few drum solo recordings that ever made the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The single was issued on the tiny Brooklyn-based Love Records label.

Lerone Bennett, Jr

3. Lerone Bennett, Jr. Historian, scholar, author and Ebony magazine editor. His best- known book is Before the Mayflower.  Bennett graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He has noted this time was integral to his intellectual development. Mr. Bennett is also a distinguished member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Howard E. Rollins

4. Howard Ellsworth Rollins, television, film, and stage actor. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. in the film Ragtime, and as Virgil Tibbs on the NBC/CBS television series In the Heat of the Night.  He also starred as Captain Davenport in the 1984 drama A Soldier’s Story which also starred
Adolph Caesar, David Alan Grier, Denzel Washington and Robert Townsend.

Mae Jamison

5. Mae Jamison, physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

Ziggy Marley

6. David “Ziggy” Marley, musician and leader of the band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. He is the oldest son of famed reggae musician Bob Marley.

wyclef jean

7. Wyclef Jean, musician, record producer, and politician.  He first received fame as a member of the acclaimed New Jersey hip hop group the Fugees. Along with being a world famous and highly respected performing artist, he is now a visiting fellow at Brown University in the Department of African Studies.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For October 13


Edith Spurlock Sampson

1. Edith Spurlock Sampson, was a Lawyer and judge, and the first Black Woman Delegate appointed to the United Nations.  She studied law while working as a social worker in Chicago, taking night courses at John Marshall Law School,

Arna Wendell Bontemps

2. Arnaud Wendell Bontemps, Was a Writer (100 years of Negro Freedom), Poet   and a noted member of the Harlem Renaissance.

Art Tatum

3. Art Tatum, jazz pianist and virtuoso who played with phenomenal facility despite being nearly blind.  Tatum is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time.  He came from a musical family and when younger had some formal training at the Toledo School of Music, however he was largely self-taught.  His teacher there recognized his talents and tried to steer him towards as a career as a classical concert pianist.  Tatum was more interested in the music of Fats Waller, which would be a strong influence on his music.  At 18 he was playing interludes at a local radio station and within a short period of time he had his own show.  In 1932 he was heard by the singer Adelaide Hall who brought him to New York as her accompanist.  One year later he made his first recordings, among which was “Tiger Rag”. This song which features breakneck tempo and rippling left- and right-hand cascades and crashing bass notes had every pianist in the country amazed by his astonishing dexterity.  While in New York he established his reputation in “cutting contests” with other top pianists, which he never lost.  He spent the next few years playing in Cleveland, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles and even England in 1938.  During this time he established himself as a major figure in jazz circles.  In the early 1940s Tatum formed an extremely popular trio with bassist Slam Stewart and guitarist Tiny Grimes.  He spent much of the next decade touring North America.  In 1953 Tatum signed by producer Norman Granz and recorded extensively both as a soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, Buddy De Franco, Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster and others.  His incredible talent allowed him to be extremely productive during this time.  Ray Spencer in his biography, noted that Tatum was constantly “refining and honing down after each performance until an ideal version remained needing no further adjustments”.  This allowed him to achieve a remarkable work rate.  For example, his solo sessions for Granz were mostly completed in two days.  That is a total of 69 tracks and all but three of them needed only one take.

Jesse Leroy Brown

4. Jesse Leroy Brown, was the first African-American naval aviator in the United States Navy. Brown enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1946 and was appointed a Midshipman, at the Ohio State University NROTC the following year. After attending Navy pre-flight school and flight training, he was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1948. Midshipman Brown was then assigned to Fighter Squadron 32. He received his commission as Ensign in April 1949.

Ray Brown Musician

5. Ray Brown, Jazz Bassist, had piano lessons from the age of eight. After noticing how many pianists attended his high school, he thought of taking up the trombone, but was unable to afford one. With a vacancy in the high school jazz orchestra, he took up the upright bass. 

Shirley Caesar

6. Shirley Caesar, Evangelist, Gospel Singer, songwriter and recording artist whose career has spanned six decades. A multi-award winning artist, with eleven Grammy Awards and seven Dove Awards to her credit, she is known as “First Lady of gospel”.

Pharoah Sanders

7. Pharaoh Sanders, is a Grammy Award–winning American jazz saxophonist.  Emerging from John Coltrane’s groups of the mid-60s Sanders is known for his overblowing, harmonic, and multi phonic techniques on the saxophone, as well as his use of “sheets of sound.”

Demond Wilson

8. Demond Wilson,  is an actor, author, and pastor. He is best known for his role opposite Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford’s son, Lamont Sanford, in the 1970s NBC-TV sitcom Sanford and Son.

Reggie Theus

9. Reggie Theus, is an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is also a retired basketball player and the former head coach for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Jerry Rice

10. Jerry Rice, is a retired football wide receiver. He is generally regarded as the greatest wide receiver of all time and one of the greatest players in National Football League history.  On November 4, 2010, Rice was chosen by NFL Network’s NFL Films production The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players as the greatest player in NFL history.

The all-time leader in most major statistical categories for wide receivers and the all-time NFL leader in touchdowns scored with 208, Rice was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times (1986–1996, 1998, 2002) and named All-Pro 11 times in his 20 NFL seasons. He won three Super Bowl rings playing for the San Francisco 49ers and an AFC Championship with the Oakland Raiders.

Tisha Campbell

11. Tisha Michelle Campbell-Martin, is an actress and singer, known for her starring roles in television series Martin and My Wife and Kids and now is starring in the new television series “The Protector”. Apart from her achievements in television, she also has notable accomplishments in film (including the House Party franchise), theater, and music.

Ashanti

12. Ashanti, Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas, Rapp and R&B recording artist, record producer and actress who rose to fame in the early 2000s and then largely faded from view. Ashanti is most famous for her eponymous debut album, which featured the hit song “Foolish”, and sold over 503,000 copies in its first week of release throughout the U.S. in April 2002. The album set a Soundscan record as the biggest opening week sales for a new female artist.  In the same week, she became the first female performer to simultaneously hold the top two places on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with “Foolish”, and “What’s Luv?” (with Fat Joe). Ashanti broke records again by having three top ten songs, “Foolish,” “What’s Luv?” and “Always on Time”, on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the same week, being the first woman to accomplish this feat. In 2003, the self-titled debut album won Ashanti her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B album. As of 2011, she has sold more than 30 million albums.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For October 07


William Sill

1. William Sill, Chronicler of The Underground Railroad Records, abolitionist, conductor on the Underground Railroad, writer, historian and civil rights activist.

Sargent Claude Johnson

2. Sargent Claude Johnson, Harlem Renaissance Sculptor, was one of the first Californian African-American artists to achieve a national reputation.  He was known for Abstract Figurative and Early Modern styles. He was a painter, potter, ceramist, printmaker, graphic artist, sculptor, and carver. He worked with a variety of media, including ceramic, clay, oil, stone, terra-cotta, watercolor, and wood.

Clarence Muse

3. Clarence Muse, an actor, screenwriter, director, composer, and lawyer. He was inducted in the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1973. Muse was the first African American to “star” in a film. He acted for more than sixty years, and appeared in more than 218 movies.

Elijah Muhammad

4. Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Robert Poole), was a religious leader, and led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975. Muhammad was a mentor to Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Muhammad Ali; and his son Warith Deen Mohammed.

Desmond Tutu

5. Desmond Tutu, is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa).

Toni Braxton

6. Toni Braxton, R&B singer, songwriter and actress. Braxton has won six Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, and five Billboard Music Awards and has sold over 60 million records worldwide.

7. Omar Benson Miller, actor.  He has played minor roles in various television shows and movies, including Sex, Love & Secrets, American Pie Presents: Band Camp, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, The Express, Transformers and 8 Mile.

Miller has signed on as a CSI: Miami regular. Starting October 5, 2009, Miller is appearing on the crime drama as Walter Simmons, a Louisiana native and art theft specialist who joins the team led by Horatio (David Caruso).

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