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1874
James Theodore Holly, a Black man who emigrated from Haiti, was consecrated Bishop to Haiti on this date. A ceremony was held at the Grace Church in New York for Holly, who was elected five days earlier.


1876
Eartha Mary Magdalene White was born on this date. She was an African-American vocalist, educator, administrator and humanitarian.

From Jacksonville, Florida raised by her adoptive, altruistic mother, Clara English White. Her adoptive father, Lafayette died in 1881 when she was five. In 1893 White graduated from Stanton School and moved to New York City. She attended the Madam Hall Beauty School and the National Conservatory of Music eventually working with the Oriental American Opera Company. A lyric soprano, she sang under the direction of J. Rosamond Johnson performed on Broadway and with her ensemble traveled throughout the United States and Europe.

Returning to Florida in 1896, she graduated from Florida Baptist Academy and taught for sixteen years in Bayard, Florida and at Stanton School in Jacksonville. In the 1920s White worked with the Republican Party and formed the Colored Citizens Protective League in Jacksonville. In 1941, she and A. Philip Randolph protested job discrimination, and she became an influential force in Jacksonville’s social welfare. White also focused on prison inmates and the establishment of an orphanage for African-American children.

She created a home for unwed mothers, a nursery for children of working mothers, a tuberculosis rest home, and (in 1902) a nursing home for elderly African-Americans. She organized the Boys’ Improvement Club in 1904 and the Clara White Mission for the Indigent (1928). A major achievement and fulfillment of a lifelong dream was the dedication of the Eartha M. M. White Nursing Home in 1967 to replace the Mercy Hospital for the Aged. In 1970, at the age of ninety-four, she received national recognition by being named the recipient of the 1970 Lane Bryant Award for Volunteer Service.

In 1971, White was appointed to the President’s National Center for Voluntary Action. Eartha White died of heart failure at age ninety-seven on January 18, 1974.



1878
Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor is born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He will become the world’s fastest bicycle racer for 12 years.


1904
Horace M. Bond was born on this date. He was an African-American teacher and administrator.

Bond worked at Fisk, Dillard, Lincoln, and Atlanta universities; and from the 1930s through the 1960s was one of the major voices calling for equal educational opportunities and services for Blacks. Bond wrote several classic intellectual articles and books on Blacks and education including: The Education of the Negro in the American Social Order 1934 and Negro Education in Alabama: A Study in Cotton and Steel 1939.

Through his work with the Julius Rosenwald Fund, Bond was a powerful figure in directing and attracting philanthropic support to African-American schools. He was a past president of Fort Valley State College and his son, Julian Bond, became a prominent civil rights activist, the first African-American elected to the Georgia House of Representatives since the Reconstruction. Horace M. Bond died on December 21, 1972.



1920
On this date, Esther Rolle was born. She was an African-American Emmy Award-winning actress.

From Pompano Beach, Florida, she was the tenth of eighteen children. Her parents were of Bahamian decent. Rolle attended Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Florida and then Spelman College for a year before moving to New York. She supported herself by working in a pocketbook factory while auditioning for the theater. While taking drama classes at George Washington Carver School in Harlem, she got a scholarship to study acting at New York’s innovative New School for Social Research. During this time she met and became a member of African dance master Asadata Dafora’s dance troupe, Shogola Oloba, she became the troupe’s director in 1960.

Two years later Rolle made her acting debut as Felicity in Jean Genet’s The Blacks. During the 1960s, she appeared in such productions as Blues for Mr. Charlie 1964, Amen Corner and Day of Absence 1965. Rolle’s film debut was in Nothing But the Man 1964 and in 1967, she became an original member of the Negro Ensemble Company. While working in Melvin Van Peeble’s Don’t Play Us Cheap 1972, she was asked to audition for the role of the maid on Maude, a Norman Lear television show being spun off from All in the Family. After getting the role, she took it with the understanding that her character Florida Evans would not be a typical maid. Rolle proceeded to turn Evans into a popular character and in 1974 her character and its husband were spun off into the television series Good Times.

She continued to act in other roles on television and on stage throughout the late 1970s and 80s. Rolle won an Emmy award for her performance as a housekeeper in the 1978 TV movie Summer of My German Soldier. In 1989, she played a housekeeper in The Member of the Wedding at the Roundabout Theater. That same year she played the matriarch in a remake of A Raisin In the Sun, as well as the maid in the Academy Award-winning film Driving Miss Daisy.

In 1990, Rolle became the first woman to win the NAACP chairman’s Civil Rights Leadership Award and one year later she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Rolle’s last two films were Down in the Delta and Train Ride. Even though she played characters who worked as maids, off-stage, she was a tireless crusader against Black stereotypes in Hollywood. Esther Rolle died in November 1998 at the age of 78. Note: At the time of her death, her manager will give her date of birth as November 8, 1920, though some references list the year as 1922.



1932
The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is awarded to Robert R. Moton, president of Tuskegee Institute, for his “thoughtful leadership in conservative opinion and action.”


1947
On this date, Minnie Julia Riperton was born. She was an African-American singer and activist with one of widest vocal ranges of the twentieth century.

From Chicago, the daughter of Daniel and Thelma Riperton, she was the youngest of eight children. At the age of three she started modern dance lessons, followed by ballet lessons at 5. Her voice lessons began at the age of nine and she was developing her operatic chops at 11. Her goal at a very young age was to become a famous singer. Riperton studied opera under Marion Jeffries. She spent months and months learning how to breathe, listening to and holding vowels. Eventually, she began singing operas and operettas with a show tune every so often. As a pre-teen she sung in the accapella choir of Hyde Park High School as a freshman.

She left school early to make $10 a song-singing backup at local studios. Some reports indicate that Minnie signed her first contract at 14, while others report her to be 16. Despite her natural talent (a pure five to six octave soprano) for opera, Riperton was more attracted to “Rock N Roll” and the promise of a touring career. She would inevitably discontinue her classical training to follow her dream of being a famous vocalist. It would, however, be her classical training, which brought her the success she sought. Riperton signed a recording contract with the “Gems” at Chess Studios and in 1967 she joined the “rock/jazz/vocal ensemble” Rotary Connection.

The style of the Rotary Connection was very progressive — somewhere between rock, jazz, pop, and experimental. Riperton was with the Rotary Connection when she met the love of her life, her husband, Richard Rudolph. They had two children, Maya and Marc whose names are included the names of two of her songs. Maya is the name of the girl in the tale of “Love And It’s Glory” and a personal reference to both can be found towards the end of “Lovin’ You.” She sings to Marc in “Wouldn’t Matter Where You Are”. Riperton did backup vocal work with Quincy Jones, Roberta Flack, Freddie Hubbard, and Etta James.

In 1969 she recorded the album “Come To My Garden” which was released in 1971, then came “Perfect Angel” and “Adventure’s In Paradise” in 1974 and 1975, respectively. The following year Riperton announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a modified mastectomy. Her “experience” (as she referred to her illness) would give her yet another reason for her life... lending her celebrity and compassion for others to become a spokesperson for breast cancer awareness and the need for self-examination and the benefit of early detection.

Within weeks after her surgery, she appeared for the taping of the Ebony Music Awards. When she received her “Ebby”, she later revealed, she was so overcome by the thought of how lucky she was to have made it through the ordeal her and her family had went through. Riperton continued on a crusade to get the word out to as many women as possible. Since tennis was her game, you would find her at almost all the celebrity tournaments for charity. In 1977 (then) President Jimmy Carter presented her with the American Cancer Society’s “Courage Award,” a year later Riperton would become that organization’s National Education Chairwoman.

Aside from being a mother, wife, activist, fund raiser, lecturer, and family member, she signed with Capitol Records; a contract that gave her the creative freedom and production quality that she desired. During the summer of 1978 creating what would be her last album, simply entitled “Minnie”. She passed away in her husband’s arms on July 12, 1979 at 31 years of age after succumbing to breast cancer.



1953
Alfre Woodard was born on this date. She is an African-American actress.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she is the youngest of three children. She was named by her godmother, who claimed she saw a vision of Alfre’s name written out in gold letters. A former high school cheerleader and track star, she got the acting bug after being persuaded to audition for her school play by a Nun at her school.

She studied drama and graduated from Boston University, School of Fine Arts. Woodward is a busy and highly acclaimed actress worldwide. She’s made numerous guest appearances in TV and film. She received a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for her 1983 performance in the movie “Cross Creek.” Her TV credits include “Hill Street Blues,” “St. Elsewhere,” “L.A. Law” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Woodward has won Emmy Awards, one, for her television performance in “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and, for the HBO original television movie, “Miss Evers Boys,” She received, in addition to an Emmy Award for Best Actress, a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Miniseries/Movie as well as ACE and Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Actress.  She’s also received Emmy nominations for other performances as well. She has appeared on stage in “Map of the World” and “A Winter’s Tale.”

Living in Santa Monica, CA with her husband, writer Roderick Spencer they have 2 adopted children, Mavis and Duncan. Her film credits include the following: The Trial of the Moke (1978)(TV Movie), Remember My Name (1978)(TV Movie), Freedom Road (1979)(1979), H.E.A.L.T.H. (1979), The Sophisticated Gents (1981)(TV Movie), The Ambush Murders (1982)(TV Movie), Rainbow Is Enuf (1982)(TV Movie), For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the, Two By South (1982)(TV Movie), Cross Creek (1983), Sweet Revenge (1984)(TV Movie), The Killing Floor (1984)(TV Movie), Go Tell It On The Mountain (1984)(TV Movie), Words By Heart (1985)(TV Movie), Unnatural Causes (1986)(TV Movie), Extremities (1986), Mandela (1987)(TV Movie), The Child Saver (1988)(TV Movie), Scrooged (1988), A Mother’s Courage: The Mary Thomas Story (1989)(TV Movie), Miss Firecracker (1989).

Blue Bayou (1990)(TV Movie), Pretty Hattie’s Baby (1991), Grand Canyon (1991), Rich in Love (1992), Passion Fish (1992), The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag (1992), Bopha (1993), Heart & Souls (1993), Aliens for Breakfast (1994)(TV Movie), Spike Lee’s family drama, Crooklyn (1994), Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad (1994)(TV Movie), Blue Chips (1994), Statistically Speaking (1995), How to Make An American Quilt (1995), The Piano Lesson (1995)(TV Movie), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), A Step Toward Tomorrow (1996), Primal Fear (1996), Special Report: Journey to Mars (1996)(TV Movie), Gulliver’s Travels (1996)(TV Movie), Secrets (1997), Follow Me Home (1997), Miss Evers Boys (1997)(TV Movie), The Member of the Wedding (1997)(TV Movie), Brown Sugar (1998), Down in the Delta (1998), The Underground Railroad (1999)(TV Movie), The Wishing Tree (1999), Mumford (1999), Funny Valentines (1999)(TV Movies).

Speak Truth to Power (2000), Holiday Heart (2000)(TV Movie), Lost Souls (2000), Love & Basketball (2000), What’s Cooking (2000), K-PAX (2001), American Exile (2001)(Narrator), Baby of the Family (2002), The Wild Thornberry’s (2002)(Voice), A Wrinkle In Time (2003)(TV Miniseries), Radio (2003), The Core (2003), The Forgotten (2004), Night Train (2005), Beauty Shop (2005) and 42.4 Percent (2006).


Some of her other film credits include “Primal Fear” opposite Richard Gere, the ensemble film “How to Make An American Quilt,” Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Down in the Delta” starring Wesley Snipes, and “Passionfish,” for which she will receive a 1998 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress. In 1984, she received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Martin Ritt’s “Cross Creek.”


1959
Elgin Baylor of the Minneapolis Lakers scores 64 points and sets a National Basketball Association scoring record.


1960
Otis M. Smith is elected auditor general of Michigan and becomes the first African American chosen in a statewide election since Reconstruction.


1966
Edward William Brooke (Republican, Massachusetts), is elected to the U.S. Senate and becomes the first African American senator the eighty five years since Reconstruction and the first African American senator elected by popular vote.


1966
Frank Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles, the American League’s batting and home-run champion, is named the league’s Most Valuable Player.


1966
John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, is awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal “for his productive imagination...in the perilous field of publishing” and “for his contributions to the enhancement of the Negro’s self-image through his publications.”


1983
W. Wilson Goode of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Harvey Gantt of Charlotte, North Carolina, and James A. Sharp, Jr. of Flint, Michigan, are the first African Americans elected mayor of their respective cities.


1988
On this date, the first African American officially qualified to run for President of the United States of America.

Dr. Lenora Fulani of the New Alliance Party ran in the general election, passing the minimum 70,000 votes in every state and the District of Columbia to run. She received 217,221 of the popular vote that year. Dr Fulani focused on issues concerning unemployment, health care, and homelessness and officially ran again in 1992.


1999
Bernard Shaw was inducted into the National Broadcasters and Cable Hall of Fame on this date. Shaw joined CNN in 1980.


2000
In a special meeting of the Corporation of Brown University, Ruth J. Simmons was unanimously elected as the school’s 18th President. Mrs. Simmons became the first Black to head an Ivy League university. Simmons had been President of Smith College since 1995.


2006
On this date, America elected the nation’s first Muslim member of Congress.

African-American
Keith Ellison easily won a Minneapolis-area district Republicans had not carried since 1962. Ellison also is Minnesota’s first nonwhite representative in Washington. He said those things were only of secondary importance. Ellison said “I think the most important thing about this race is we tried to pull people together on things we all share, things that are important to everyone. We all need peace, and this Iraq policy is dangerous to our country.” He has called for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Ellison said his campaign united labor, minority communities, peace activists. “We were able to bring in Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists,” he said. “We brought in everybody.” Ellison focused on issues that resonate in the urban, liberal-leaning 5th District in Minneapolis. By favoring gay rights and legal abortion, Ellison cut a path away from many Muslims. Hayat Hassan, 30, a single mother and a Muslim, said she voted for Ellison because of his positions on health care and education.



2006
On this date, Massachusetts elected the first black person to win the state’s highest office in its 218-year history. Deval Patrick defeated Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, the Republican nominee, as well as independent Christy Mihos and Grace Ross of the Green-Rainbow Party.

In addition to the state distinction, the victory made Patrick just the second African-American governor in the nation since Reconstruction. The first, L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia, left office more than a decade ago, in 1995.

Patrick 50 years old said, “I believe in a grass-roots strategy to campaign. I believe in a grass-roots strategy to govern.” “Our biggest challenge is how we transfer that energy and that excitement and willingness of people to connect and check back in into day-to-day governing and into a revived civic life.”



2011
On this date, Jamaican-born American actor, rapper, record producer, singer and former leader of Heavy D & the Boyz, Dwight Arrington Myers, better known as Heavy D, died in Los Angeles, California at the age of 44. He collapsed outside his Beverly Hills home and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. It has been reported that his death was due to respiratory distress and that no foul play was involved.


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