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1842
On this date, Josiah Thomas Walls was born. He was a black soldier, teacher, and politician.

He has the awkward distinction as a congressman of being unseated twice by opponents who challenged the election. Born a slave near Winchester, Virginia Josiah Thomas Walls attended school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His military career began with being forced into the confederate army; northern forces captured him in 1862 at Yorktown. In 1863, Walls entered the third infantry regiment, United States Colored Troops, becoming a corporal. He was discharged in Florida where he began working in Alachua County at a sawmill as a teacher.

In 1867, he was elected to represent his county at the upcoming Florida Constitutional Convention. Walls participated in several national conventions held to have discussions about problems facing Blacks. In 1870, Republicans nominated him for the state’s lone seat in the House of Representatives where he appeared to win a narrow victory. He took his seat, making him
Florida’s first African American congressman, accepting assignments on the Militia and Expenditures Committees. Walls’ opponent Silas NiBlack protested the vote count, though Walls said voters were intimidated at the polls. Still after two months, the Committee on Elections unseated Walls.

While in office though, Walls put forth several proposals. One sought to establish a national education fund with money coming from public land sales. He also introduced bills for relief of private pensioners and Seminole War veterans. In 1874 he lost a recount after victory over Jesse Finley. Frustrated, he left the state senate in 1879 returning to run his sawmill, a lettuce, tomato, and orange farm. Josiah Walls died on May 15th 1905.



1892
Physician, Dr. Miles Vandahurst Lynk, publishes the first African American medical journal, the Medical and Surgical Observer. Lynk had been born in Brownsville, TN in 1872 and was the first son of former slaves.


1916
Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard of Brown University becomes the first African American running back named to the All-American team.


1928
Bo Diddley was born Ellas Bates on this date on a small farm near the town of McComb, Mississippi in rural Pike County, close to the Louisiana border. He was the only child of Ethel Wilson and Eugene Bates. He had 3 half-brothers and a half-sister.

At the age of 8, he was adopted by his mother’s cousin, Mrs. Gussie McDaniel, along with his cousins Willis, Lucille and Freddie, and adopted the name Ellas McDaniel. In the mid-1930’s the family moved to the south side of Chicago
when young Ellas was 6 or 7 years old. Soon after, he began to take violin lessons from Professor O.W. Frederick at the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church. He studied the violin for twelve years, composing 2 concertos for the instrument. When he was a young adult he earned money performing odd jobs in construction and in boxing semi-pro.

For Christmas in 1940
in the Windy City, his sister Lucille bought him his first guitar, a cheap Harmony acoustic to which he taught himself how to play. It was at this time, from the kids at Willard Elementary School, that he acquired the nickname “Bo Diddley” (“...Bo Diddley is me; to tell ya the truth, I don’t know what it (the name) really is...”) from his fellow pupils at the Foster Vocational High School in Chicago.

The newly-named Bo Diddley had long been fascinated by the rhythms that he heard coming from the sanctified churches. A frustrated drummer, he tried to translate the sounds that he heard into his own style. Gradually he began to duplicate what he did with his violin bow by rapidly flicking his pick across his guitar strings. “I play the guitar as if I’m playing the drums....I play drum licks on the guitar.” He continued to practice the guitar through his early teens.


After more than a decade of playing on street corners and in clubs around Chicago, Bo Diddley finally got the chance to cut a demo of 2 songs that he had written; “Uncle John” and “I’m A Man”. After various rejections from local record labels, (most notably Vee-Jay), in the spring of 1955 he took the recordings to brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, owners of Chess Records, with studios located at 4750-2 South Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago. They suggested that he changed the title and the lyrics of “Uncle John” to more reflect his own unique personality.

Shortly before leaving school he formed his first group, a trio named The Hipsters, later known as The Langley Avenue Jive Cats, after the Chicago street where he lived. Upon graduation he pursued a variety of low paid occupations including truck driving, building site work and boxing, playing locally with his group to supplement his income. Around this time he married his first wife Louise Woolingham, but the marriage did not survive. A year later he married Ethel “Tootsie” Smith, a marriage that lasted just over a decade.

With musical influences of his own ranging from Louis Jordan to John Lee Hooker and from Nat “King” Cole to Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley was now set to help shape and define the sound and presentation of rock music for all time. He took up blues and R&B after hearing John Lee Hooker.

In the early ‘50s, he began playing with his longtime partner; maraca player Jerome Green, to get what Diddley’s called “that freight train sound.” After more than a decade of playing on street corners and in clubs around Chicago, Bo Diddley finally got the chance to cut a demo of 2 songs that he had written; “Uncle John” and “I’m A Man”. After various rejections from local record labels, (most notably Vee-Jay), in the spring of 1955 he took the recordings to brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, owners of Chess Records, with studios located at 4750-2 South Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago. They suggested that he changed the title and the lyrics of “Uncle John” to more reflect his own unique personality. Billy Boy Arnold, blues harmonica player and singer, was also playing with Diddley when he got a deal with Chess (after being turned down by rival Chicago label Vee-Jay). His very first single from the two songs were re-recorded at Bill Putnam’s Universal Recording Studio at 111 East Ontario in Chicago on Wednesday March 2nd 1955 and released as a double A-side disc “Bo Diddley/I’m A Manon the Chess Records subsidiary label Checker Records. The A-side had futuristic waves of tremolo guitar, set to a timeless nursery rhyme; the B-side, a bump-and-grind, harmonica-driven shuffle, based around an overwhelming blues riff. The result was a new kind of guitar-based rock & roll, saturated in the blues and R&B, but owing loyalty to neither. It went straight to the top of the rhythm ‘n’ blues charts, establishing Bo Diddley as one of the most exciting and original new talents in American music.

He only had a few hits in the 1950s and early ‘60s, Diddley produced greater and more influential music than all but a handful of the best early rockers. The Bo Diddley beat is one of rock & roll’s bedrock rhythms, showing up in the work of Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, and even pop-garage knock-offs like the Strangeloves’ 1965 hit “I Want Candy.”
From Elvis Presley to George Thorogood, from The Rolling Stones to ZZ Top, from The Doors to The Clash, from Buddy Holly to Prince, and from The Everly Brothers to Run DMC, all acknowledged the unique influences of Bo Diddley upon their styles of music. Diddley’s spellbinding rhythmic attack and booming vocals stretched back as far as Africa for their roots, and looked as far into the future as rap. His trademark otherworldly vibrating, fuzzy guitar style expanded the instrument’s power and range. Diddley’s bounce epitomizes rock & roll at its most humorously outlandish and freewheeling.

Diddley was never a top seller like Chuck Berry, but he produced a catalog of classics that rival Berry’s in quality. “You Don’t Love Me,” “Diddley Daddy,” “Pretty Thing,” “Diddy Wah Diddy,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Mona,” “Road Runner,” “You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover;” all are standards. Oddly enough, his only Top 20 pop hit was an atypical, absurd back-and-forth rap between him and Jerome Green, Say Man, that was almost by accident while fooling around in the studio.

On stage, Diddley was great, using his trademark square guitars and distorted amplification to produce new sounds that preceded the innovations of guitarists like Jimi Hendrix. In Great Britain, he was revered as a giant on the order of Berry and Muddy Waters. The Rolling Stones in particular borrowed a lot from Diddley’s rhythms and attitude in their early days, although they only officially covered a couple of his tunes, “Mona” and “I’m Alright.” Other British R&B groups like the Yardbirds, Animals, and Pretty Things also covered Diddley standards in their early days. Buddy Holly covered “Bo Diddley” and used a modified Bo Diddley beat on “Not Fade Away”; when the Stones gave the song the full-on Diddley treatment (complete with shaking maracas), the result was their first big British hit.

The British Invasion helped increase the publics awareness of Diddley’s importance, and ever since then he’s been a popular live act. Yet his career as a recording artist in commercial and artistic terms was over by the time the British music invasion hit America. He recorded with declining frequency and after 1963; his writing or recording material was never on par with his early classics. In 1979 he toured with the Clash and had a cameo role in the film Trading Places. Some of his other accomplishments include being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987; doing a late-‘80s tour with Ronnie Wood, and a 1989 television commercial for sports shoes with star athlete Bo Jackson. That same year he got a star in the sidewalk on the Hollywood Hall of Fame.


Diddley has been a well-respected artist playing a concert for the President and Jackie Kennedy. He also played at the Inaugural gala in Washington D.C. for President Bush, and he performed at the Democratic National Convention for Bill Clinton.

Now in his early 70s, he is still very much active in the recording studio and in the clubs and the concert halls around the world. He performed a rousing version of his classic song “Who Do You Love” with George Thorogood & The Destroyers in front of a TV audience of millions at the Live Aid Concert in Philadelphia in 1985. A couple of years later he was deservedly an early inductee into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In 1996 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm ‘n’ Blues Foundation
at the Seventh Annual Pioneer Awards and in 1998 received another Lifetime Achievement Award this time from The Recording Academy at that year’s annual Grammy Awards Ceremony. He released Road Runner Live in February 1999. In 2000 yet another honour was justifiably awarded to him when he was inducted into The Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. Bo Diddley has had a long lasting career that spans over five decades. He still performs concerts in places like Robinsonville, Mississippi, and Tokyo, Japan and currently he lives in Florida.


1929
One of the first-ever national Black picketing and boycott campaigns began in Chicago, Ill on the South Side and quickly spread to other major cities including New York, Cleveland, and Los Angeles and other cities and continued throughout the Depression. The campaign was entitled “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” and it targeted stores that sold to Blacks but did not employ them. The effort was driven in major part by the economic hard times caused by the Great Depression.


1929
The Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, founded in 1922, is incorporated.


1929
Mordecai W. Johnson receives the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for his work as the first African American president of Howard University.


1935
Marian Anderson makes a historic appearance in New York City’s Town Hall. Fresh from a triumphant tour in Europe, Anderson will be hailed by New York critics as one of the “great singers of our time.” Her performance will mark a new era in the Philadelphian’s long and successful career. Her performance is described by Howard Taubman, the New York Times reviewer, as “music-making that probed too deep for words.”


1943
The 555th Parachute Regiment, the first Negro parachute unit, was activated at Fort Benning, GA.


1952
Tuskegee Institute reported that no lynchings occurred during 1952, the first such year in 71 years the Institute had kept such tabulations.


1960
Poet Langston Hughes is presented the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and cited as “the poet laureate of the Negro race.”


1960
Two U.S. courts issues temporary injunctions to prevent eviction of about seven hundred African American sharecroppers in Haywood and Fayette counties, Tennessee.


1961
Ben Johnson is born in Falmouth, Jamaica. He will become a world class 100 meter runner. He will win the Olympic gold medal in 1988 and will be later disqualified for using steroids.


1975
The constitution of the Democratic Republic of Madagascar comes into effect.


1975
On this date, Eldrick “Tiger” Woods was born. He is an African and Asian American professional golfer, the first of his race and the youngest golfer, to win a major golf tournament.

From Cypress, California, he is a golf prodigy, his father Earl Woods who taught his son to play golf before the boy could even read. His mother, Kutilda Punsawad Woods, comes from Thailand. He had recorded two holes-in-one by the age of six. By 1996 he possessed a complete and polished game with the power to routinely hit 300-yard drives, and the touch crucial for a solid “short game” (shots closer the hole and putting). When Woods decided to leave Stanford University in to play professional golf, he had collected many amateur titles.

Under his belt were six United States Golf Association national championships, a National College Athletic Association championship, and a record-setting three consecutive U. S. Amateur championships. Woods successfully joined the professional ranks by winning two of the first seven tournaments he entered. In April 1997 Woods won the Masters Tournament, shooting a record-setting 270 and winning by the largest margin in Masters history (12 strokes). He also set a handful of unofficial records, including the first African-American and Asian American to win a major golf tournament, as well as being the youngest Masters winner.

Woods ended 1997 with four tournament wins, and nine top-ten finishes overall. Woods has had a great impact on the social aspects of golf. When Woods won the Masters, many credited him with breaking racial stereotypes. Woods himself cited Black golfers who paved the way for him, such as Lee Elder, the first African-American to play in the Masters, and Ted Rhodes, the first African-American to play in the U. S. Open, and Charlie Sifford. In 2000, he won the British Open and the U. S. Open while breaking Ben Hogan’s 52-year-old record for the most major tournament victories in a year.

Woods was selected as 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 Player of the Year by the PGA TOUR (Jack Nicklaus Award), the PGA of America, and the Golf Writers Association of America. His adjusted scoring average in 2000 of 67.79 strokes was the lowest ever – breaking his record of 68.43 in 1999 – and earned the Byron Nelson Award on the PGA TOUR and the Vardon Trophy from the PGA of America.

In addition to the respect and admiration of his colleagues on the tour, Tiger Woods has increased golf’s popularity among African-Americans and other minorities. Woods is now a five-time PGA Player of the Year in his seven full seasons on tour. He also conducts his own annual charity tournament, the Target World Challenge.

Woods married Swedish model Elin Nordegren at a resort in Barbados in October, 2004 and they have one child.



1984
LeBron James was born on this date. He is an African-American professional basketball sensation.

Standing at 6-8½ inches, from Akron, Ohio James is the only child of Gloria James who was 16 at the time and just six months shy of graduating from high school. His childhood improved when his mother began a relationship with Eddie Jackson. Young James did not have much contact with his biological father and Jackson became a father figure to him. He regularly attended James’ high school basketball games.

Young James was named Ohio’s “Mr. Basketball” three times and highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA star while still in high school. James finished his high school career with 2,657 points, 892 rebounds and 523 assists. At the age of 18, he was selected with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before his NBA debut, he signed a $90 million shoe contract with Nike.

In his first season, he was the Rookie of the Year and in the following three seasons received All-NBA and All-Star honors. He led the Cavaliers to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2006 and 2007; the latter year the team advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1992 and the NBA Finals for the first time in Cleveland’s history. James was also a member of the United States men’s national basketball team that won the bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics and he finished second in the league Most Valuable Player balloting in 2006.

James has two children with his high school sweetheart, Savannah Brinson. They are LeBron James Jr., born on October 6, 2004 and Bryce Maximus James, born on June 14, 2007. In 2007 James collaborated and helped release an album with Young Buck and Whoo Kid. The album is called G-Unit Radio 24: Clean Up Man.


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