another athlete who made history in track and field at the 1992 summer
Olympics, running even faster than Moses. His name is Kevin "The
the 400-meter hurdles event. His time was 46.78 seconds, breaking
Moses’ record by two-tenths of a second, at 19 miles an hour.
numbers 46.89 in each running spike. He also planned to run 12 strides
between each hurdle, where Moses had run 13. This was the original goal
he set for himself. And of course, 152 strides later, he set a new record.
Young had big dreams as he grew up in his gritty Watts neighborhood. He was taught by his mother to “find his
heroes, and become a shining example for those coming up behind him.” Remaining quiet about his victory,
Young takes pride in knowing that he became a hero himself.
After his big win in Seoul, Young later became the first track athlete ever to win an ESPY Award from ESPN.
Young won his first US National Championships title. He remained unbeaten through the Barcelona Olympics,
where he set a New World record of 46.78. He still is the only person to have run 400-m hurdles in less than 47
seconds. Young achieved this feat using a technique only he has perfected in which he uses 12 strides between
hurdles (nearly 9 feet per stride) switching to 13 later in the race.
NASA and other organizations; but he has won his greatest fame for re-inventing
the squirt gun.
high school, when he won a national inventing competition for "Linex," a remote-
control robot he had built out of junkyard scraps. He went on to more formal
training at Tuskegee University, where he earned first a B.S. in Mechanical
Engineering (1972) and then an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering (1974).
Advanced Space Systems Requirements Officer at the headquarters of the
Strategic Air Command in Omaha, Nebraska. After directing many projects and
earning several decorations, as well as a Nomination for Astronaut Training,
Johnson moved on to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
for the Galileo Jupiter probe and the Mars Observer project; his crowning achievement at JPL was the
Johnson Tube, a CFC-free refrigeration system with a hydraulic heat pump, which later earned Johnson his
seventh patent (#4,724,683; 1988).
While with the USAF and JPL, Johnson continued to invent at home. In 1985, he founded his own company,
later renamed Johnson Research and Development.. Johnson had first conceived his most famous invention in
1982: when a homemade nozzle at his bathroom sink shot a spray of water across the room, Johnson resolved
to invent the world's first high-performance, pressurized water gun.
Johnson with partner Bruce D'Andrade finally created a workable prototype of the now famous SuperSoaker®
in 1989. They filed for a joint patent (granted 1991) and found a manufacturer, Larami Corp. (now a subsidiary of
Hasbro, Inc.). The SuperSoaker® uses an air pump to pressurize its water supply, allowing for tremendous
distance and accuracy in water-marksmanship. Those unfamiliar with this product cannot appreciate its
popularity: since 1990, over 40 million SuperSoakers® have generated over $200 million in sales; today,
dozens of websites are devoted to them.
Meanwhile, Johnson has earned over 40 patents, and continues to invent in the realms of thermo- and fluid
dynamics as well as toys. In addition to ongoing controls work for NASA, Johnson and his company are
developing an improved home radon detector, a rechargeable battery, and a heat pump that uses water instead
of freon, among other projects.
Lonnie Johnson has won numerous honors for his success in inventing and entrepreneurship, and his constant
encouragement of young people to invent. He is a legendary businessman and public figure in his hometown of
Marietta, Georgia---whose Mayor declared February 25, 1994 "Lonnie G. Johnson Day" in his honor---and,
thanks to the SuperSoaker®, he is a hero to kids nationwide.
Lonnie G. Johnson (born October 6, 1949) is best known as the inventor of the Super Soaker water gun. The
top selling toy in the United States in 1991 and 1992, and Super Soaker have generated over $1 billion in sales
since 2007. Today, many websites are devoted to them.
Lonnie G. Johnson is president and founder of Johnson Research and Development Co., Inc., a technology
development company, and its spin off companies, Excellatron Solid State, LLC; Johnson Electro-Mechanical
Systems, LLC; and Johnson Real Estate Investments, LLC.
Articles on Lonnie Johnson have appeared in numerous publications including Time Magazine, the New York
Times, and Inventor’s Digest. Johnson serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Alliance for Children,
an organization which informed and influential voice to protect the rights and interests of Georgia’s less
fortunate children. He is a Board member of the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, and had served
on the board of directors of the Commonwealth National Bank.
In his hometown of Marietta, Georgia, February 25, 1994 was declared "Lonnie Johnson G. Day" in his honor.
Upon his graduation from Tuskegee University, he worked as a research engineer at Oak Ridge National
Laboratory, and then joined the U. S. Air Force, serving as Acting Chief of the Space Nuclear Power Safety
Section at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In 1979, he left the Air Force to accept a position as Senior Systems Engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter.
Returning to the Air Force in 1982, he served as an Advanced Space Systems Requirements Officer at
Strategic Air Command(SAC) headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, and as Chief of the Data Management Branch,
SAC Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was awarded the Air Force
Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal on two different occasions.
In 1987, he returned to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he worked on the Mars Observer project and was
the fault protection engineer during the early stages of the Cassini (Saturn) project. He was responsible for
ensuring that single point spacecraft failures would not result in loss of the mission. During his nine year career
with JPL, he received multiple achievement awards from NASA for his work in spacecraft system design.
In 1989,Lonnie G. Johnson formed his own engineering firm and licensed his most famous invention, the Super
Soaker water gun, to Larami Corporation. Two years later, the Super Soaker generated over $200 million in
retail sales, and became the number one selling toy in America. Larami Corporation was eventually purchased
by Hasbro, the second largest toy manufacturer in the world. Over the years, Super Soaker sales have totaled
close to one billion dollars. Currently, Lonnie Johnson holds over 80 patents, with over 20 more pending, and
is the author of several publications on spacecraft power systems.
Two of Johnson’s companies, Excellatron Solid State and Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems (JEMS), are
developing energy technology.
Excellatron is introducing thin film batteries, a new generation of rechargeable battery technology which has
significantly better abilities than the current industry leader Li-ion.
JEMS has developed the Johnson Thermo-Electrochemical Converter System (JTEC), which was listed by
Popular Mechanics as one of the top 10 inventions of 2008, and has potential applications including solar power
plants and ocean thermal power generation. It converts thermal energy to electrical energy using a non-steam
process which works by pushing hydrogen ions through two membranes, with significant advantages over
alternative systems, and is claimed to be highly scalable.
|Many years before "Black pride" became a popular slogan, a small group of Black American soldiers gave life
and meaning to those words.
This is their story.
Born within an army that had traditionally relegated blacks to menial jobs and programmed them for failure, the
555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, or "Triple Nickles," succeeded in becoming the nation's first all-black
parachute infantry test platoon, company, and battalion.
In Camp Mackall, North Carolina on Nov. 25, 1944, the first all-black parachute infantry platoon was activated.
They would be called the 555th Battalion, a.k.a. The Triple Nickels.
In the Georgia winters of 1943 and 1944, soldiers could stare into the sky and see a blanket of white parachutes
belonging to the 555th Infantry battalion. Among the troopers were former university students and professional
athletes. Their unit was entirely black, from commanding officer down to the private level. Their skills would be
tested throughout World War II.
The Triple Nickels served in more airborne units, during war and peacetime, than any other parachute group in
history. They were trained to use biological agents that could destroy burning woodlands for wartime purposes.
The brave men of the 555th Infantry even found themselves smoke jumping into burning forests of the
American northwest searching for Japanese balloon bombs. Private First Class Malvin L. Brown was the first
smoke jumper to perish on a fire jump.
After being transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1945, the 555th became attached to the elite 82nd
Airborne Division. In 1950, the parachute battalion was disbanded. Its former members would later fight in the
Korean War. One of the battalion's former officers, Harry Sutton, died while leading a rearguard action during
the Hungnam Evacuation and was decorated posthumously with the Silver Star.
In the frosty Georgia winter of 1943-44, soldiers and officer candidates traveling to and from Fort Benning often
saw the sky filled with white parachutes. Most of them assumed that the faces beneath the chutes were also
white. The black soldiers they knew drove their trucks, waited on them in mess halls, or hauled their
ammunition; they rode in the back of the bus to and from Columbus; they gathered at their own separate clubs
on the fort.
Some of the faces beneath those chutes, however, were black. As such they were also pioneers, blazing new
trails for countless black soldiers to follow. It wasn't easy. A proud black lieutenant, sergeant, or private, with
polished boots and paratrooper wings, still had to use the "colored" toilets and drinking fountains in the
railroad stations, sit in segregated sections of theaters, and go out of his way to avoid confrontations with racist
police. Black officers continued to find post officers' club closed to them. But they endured, and proved
themselves as airborne troopers--"as fine a group of soldiers as I have ever seen," in the words of the
notoriously fussy General Ben Lear.
True, these black pioneers were exceptional men, specially selected for the task. They were former university
students and professional athletes, top-notch and veteran noncoms. A major element in their success was that,
unlike other black infantry units officered by whites, they were entirely black, from commanding officer down to
the newest private.
In fathering the 3rd Battalion, 505th Airborne Infantry Regiment, the 80th Airborne Anti-aircraft Battalion, the
503rd Airborne Artillery Battalion, and the 2nd Airborne Ranger Company, and serving in the 82nd, 101st,
11th and 13th Airborne Divisions, the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, the 188th and 511th Airborne
Infantry Regiments, the Airborne Center and Special Forces, the Triple Nicklers served in more airborne
units, in peace and war, than any other parachute group in history.
Though combat-ready and alerted for European duty in late 1944, the changing tides of the war resulted in a
different assignment--jumping over the blazing forests of the American northwest searching for Japanese
balloon bombs, a job requiring exact skills and special courage. In this unusual role, the 555th also confronted
a new dimension in warfare involving the use of biological agents that could destroy woodlands and crops, but
Historical Note...Private First Class Malvin L. Brown, a medic and member of Headquarters Company, 555th
Parachute Infantry Battalion was the first smokejumper to perish on a fire jump. PFC Brown, a native of
Narberth in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania died on August 6, 1945. His death occurred during a fire jump
in the Siskiyou National Forest near Roseberg, Oregon.
The 555th Parachute Infantry, Association, Inc.
"The Triple Nickles" has members and chapters across the United States.
The population of the west coast would have been seriously alarmed by the knowledge that these weapons,
launched in Japan, were landing on their shores. Consequently, the 555th approached Operation Fire Fly
committed to absolute secrecy. We realized that any slip on our part, any breach of security, could bring chaos to
the west coast and damage the nation's morale. Only recently fear, hatred, and prejudice had been vented on
Japanese-American citizens in the western states by stripping them of their rights and property and placing them in
concentration camps. That Americans of German and Italian descent were spared this treatment did not escape
In this mission, and in many others, the 555th was successful. We became a superb organization because of our
belief in ourselves and each other. We worked together. We were not greedy for promotion and publicity, nor did
we engage in the army's political games. Our game was soldiering. It took a total effort and a collective frame of
mind that recognized that everything we did was for a special purpose. As black men in competition with whites, we
knew that if we failed it might be a long time before we were given another chance.
For us, integration meant survival and advancement in the white man's army. But would it remain a white man's
army? By the turn of the century there could well be all-black units again--not by design but rather because of the
economics of the job market for young blacks, and the appeal of the military as a new and permanent way of life.
I wish that it were possible to name and write about every trooper who has ever enjoyed the prestige and spirit of
being a Triple Nickler. But that cannot be done here. I hope that those who are unnamed in the pages that follow
will recognize that in the history of each of us lies at least some of the history of all of us.
Because of my personal and professional involvement in the 555th from its inception, through integration and
beyond, it has been difficult to avoid personal intrusions into this group portrait. I trust that my colleagues will
understand, if not appreciate, this fact.
~Bradley Biggs, Lt. Col. USA (Ret.)~
pay. And when they called, by law, he still had to come and tend to animals. He
was hardly ever paid by repeat customers.
Born on August 1, 1869, on the island of Trinidad, British West Indies; died in
1939 in Lynchburg, VA; son of William Lushington, a butcher and orchard
worker, and Mollie Dickerson Lushington; married Elizabeth Gavino Hubert, a
native of Antigua, January 2, 1890; children: Drucilla, Bernetta, Christina; two
other children died before reaching adulthood.
Education: Cornell University, BS, 1894; University of Pennsylvania, DVM, 1897.
Memberships: Masons and St. Luke's fraternal organizations; Lynchburg
Chamber of Commerce.
Rock Castle, VA, instructor of Veterinary and Sanitary Science and Hygiene, 1899(?)-1902;
Lynchburg, VA, veterinarian, focusing on large animals, 1902-39.
Trinidadian-born Augustus Nathaniel Lushington became one of the first Americans of African descent to earn
a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree when he graduated from the program in veterinary medicine at the
University of Pennsylvania in 1897. Practicing for much of his career in segregated Lynchburg, Virginia, he
experienced unjust treatment but was respected in the community as a superior practitioner. A photograph of
Lushington now welcomes students to the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school, which, like other
veterinary programs, suffers from an underrepresentation of minority students.
Lushington was born on the small southern Caribbean island of Trinidad, then part of the British empire, on
August 1, 1869. His paternal grandfather was from the Congo, brought to Trinidad as a slave to work on the
island's sugar plantations, and his father William raised produce for sale at a market, worked as a butcher, and
did farm work. Family lore maintained that he was related to a tribal prince.
Lushington attended teacher-training school and worked for several years in a Trinidadian classroom. Despite
his very young age he was promoted to the rank of principal. But, apparently restless in spirit, he left Trinidad
for nearby Venezuela, where he worked in the town of La Guayra for a British-owned railroad as clerk, general
timekeeper, and paymaster.
That adventure lasted for about three years. Lushington returned to his family in Trinidad but found that
opportunities were scarce in the island's labor market, crowded with successive waves of Indian and Chinese
immigrants. In 1889 he set off for the United States, landing in New York City and making his way to
Binghamton, New York, where he had some friends. In January of 1890 Lushington married a woman named
Elizabeth Gavino Hubert, who came from Antigua. A network of West Indian friends helped him establish
himself to a point where he could afford to enroll at Cornell University in nearby Ithaca, taking premed courses
and studying agriculture. He graduated from Cornell in 1894.
Enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school, Lushington finished the program in three years.
When he received his degree in 1897, he was the school's first black graduate. With a growing family,
Lushington looked for a promising location in which to set up shop. According to most sources, he and his wife
raised two daughters, one of whom, Drucilla Moultrie, taught in Lynchburg schools for nearly 50 years; another,
Bernetta Parks, worked for Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. A third daughter, Christina, is
mentioned in Lushington's entry in the Virginia edition of the History of the American Negro; but no other
information is known about her. Two other children did not survive to adulthood. Lushington set up a
veterinary practice in Philadelphia but remained there for only two years. Lushington seems to have been
drawn southward, despite the worsening racial climate in the southern states, by a teaching job in veterinary
sanitation at Bell Mead Industrial and Agricultural College in Rock Castle, Virginia. Deciding to return to his
veterinary practice, he realized that south-central Virginia offered, from a veterinarian's point of view, an ideal
environment, with large numbers of livestock grazing on the area's rolling hills. Finding that there was only one
other veterinarian in Lynchburg, Lushington opened his practice there.
The farms were important because at this time, most veterinarians treated large animals. House pets existed,
but in a far less wealthy era when gourmet cat food was unknown, most people could not afford to spend large
amounts of money on their ailments. Lushington treated cows, horses, and other livestock, often walking for
miles through the woods from Lynchburg to reach the farms where his services were needed. His philosophy,
according to Arthur Bunyan Caldwell's History of the American Negro: Virginia Edition, was that "the first
essential to progress is a better understanding between the best elements of the two races. This, he believes,
would lead to closer and more harmonious relationships; mutual confidence would grow, and both races would
gain as all advanced toward better citizenship." In Virginia, however, Lushington experienced neither
harmonious relationships nor good citizenship. White farmers often availed themselves of his services but then
refused to pay him--and in the repressive atmosphere of the South in the early 1900s, Lushington had neither
the option of taking legal action nor even the practical right to refuse services to deadbeats.
Lushington's way of making ends meet was to take other jobs on the side. He worked as an agricultural
statistics reporter for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal Industry, as a meat inspector, and
as a probation officer on weekends. Even half a century later, when University of Pennsylvania veterinary
graduate William H. Waddell penned his reminiscences of his early career, he wrote (in his book The Black
Man in Veterinary Medicine) that the only outside employment available to black veterinarians was in the
segregated military "or with the government as meat inspector, grade five." Lushington's two daughters saw
little of him as they were growing up, but he did prosper to some degree in later life, moving into a large house
and office on Fifth Street in Lynchburg and financing an education for his daughter Drucilla at St. Augustine
College in North Carolina and Hampton University in Virginia. He became a trustee of a local Episcopal church.
At the end of his career, Lushington did treat domestic pets.
He was a member of the African-American branch of the Masons and St. Luke's fraternal organizations, and of
the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.
Lushington might have reached higher civic levels partly because he retained British citizenship and never
participated in American political life. He never retired, working until he died at age 69 in 1939. His practice
was passed down to a father-and-son veterinarian pair, George Jackson Sr. and Jr. For many years, Lushington
was believed to be the first African American to receive a veterinary degree in the United States, but
University of Pennsylvania graduate Alice Weiss, who wrote an article about Lushington for one of the school's
alumni publications, found that he was preceded by Henry Stockton Lewis, who graduated from Harvard's
veterinary school in 1889. Still, Lushington--who as a Virginian operated in a much less racially tolerant
environment than Lewis--was hailed as a pioneer by Waddell, who arranged posthumous honors for Lushington
from his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. Items that belonged to Lushington are housed at the
Legacy Museum of African American History in Lynchburg.
merchant, Benjamin Aymar a member of the Oceanus engine
Company No. 11 in the city of New York. In 1818, she took her
place with the men and helped pull the pumper to fires through the
snow in a 1818 blizzard. Molly fought fires wearing a calico dress and
worked along side the men of the Oceanus Volunteer Fire Company
No. 1 of New York City in 1818.
Molly Williams (fl. 1818) was the first known female firefighter in the United States. An African American, she
was held as a slave and belonging to a New York merchant Benjamin Aymar worked on Oceanus Engine
Company #11 in New York City in 1818. There she was used to be called Volunteer No. 11. Williams made a
distinguished presence in her calico dress and checked apron and was said to be "as good a fire laddie as many
of the boys."
Her work was noted particularly during the blizzard of 1818. Male firefighters were scarce, but Williams took
her place with the men on the dragropes and pulled the pumper to the fire through the deep snow. When
asked, Williams always replied: "‘I belongs to ole ‘Leven; I allers runs wid dat ole bull-gine.’"
the United States Senate. He was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on
September 27, 1822. His father’s ancestry was African, European, Lumbee
Indian; his mother had been a slave, who was emancipated.
with his brother, Elias, in his brother’s barbershop Lincolnton, North
Carolina. His brother died when Hiram was nineteen, leaving him to
manage the business, but Hiram decided to further his education by
attending Union County Quaker Seminary in Liberty, Indiana.
Later he moved to Baltimore and became principal of an African American school. While serving as a principal,
he also served as a pastor of a church.
When the Civil War started in 1861, Revels supported the Union, even though he lived in a border state with
some residents supporting the North, while others supported the South. Revels helped organize two African
American troops in Maryland.
In 1863, Revels relocated to St. Louis, where he founded a school for African Americans and helped recruit
African Americans for a Missouri regiment. He served as a chaplain in the Union Army and as a provost
marshal at Vicksburg.
After the war, along with his wife and five daughters, Revels made his residence in Natchez, Mississippi, where
became an active member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He continued to found and organize new
churchesRevels was elected alderman in Natchez in 1868, and 1869, he was elected state senator from Adams
County. In 1870, he was elected to serve out an unexpired term as United States senator from Mississippi.
This senate seat had been vacated by Jefferson Davis a decade earlier. Revels served in the U.S. Senate from
February 25, 1870 until March 4, 1871.
After his stint as U.S. Senator, Revels retuned to Mississippi and became the president of Alcorn College,
Mississippi’s first African American college. He retired from Alcorn, where he also taught philosophy, in 1882.
Revels remained very active throughout his life; he served as interim secretary of state in 1873. He worked to
rid his state and the South of the carpetbaggers. In his famous letter to President Grant, he wrote:
adventurers, who, caring nothing for country, were willing to stoop to anything no matter how infamous, to
secure power to themselves, and perpetuate it..... My people have been told by these schemers, when men
have been placed on the ticket who were notoriously corrupt and dishonest, that they must vote for them; that
the salvation of the party depended upon it; that the man who scratched a ticket was not a Republican. This
is only one of the many means these unprincipled demagogues have devised to perpetuate the intellectual
bondage of my people.... The bitterness and hate created by the late civil strife has, in my opinion, been
obliterated in this state, except perhaps in some localities, and would have long since been entirely obliterated,
were it not for some unprincipled men who would keep alive the bitterness of the past, and inculcate a hatred
between the races, in order that they may aggrandize themselves by office, and its emoluments, to control my
people, the effect of which is to degrade them.
In addition to his educational, religious, and political work, he became the editor of the Southwestern Christian
Advocate. Revels died on January 16, 1901, during a church conference in Aberdeen, Mississippi.
Arguably the most prominent African American woman politician in Detroit of the 20th century, Henderson's
place in Detroit's history is secure.
Given the barriers to attain political power for African Americans, her accomplishments are all the more
noteworthy. During her most active years, she would become Detroit's first African American Councilwoman
and a vocal advocate for the rights of African Americans and women who faced discrimination.
Erma Henderson was born in Pensacola, Florida in 1917 and moved to Detroit a year later. Like thousands of
African Americans, her family moved to Detroit in the midst of the Great Migration that would find African
Americans of the South fleeing discrimination and seeking better opportunities in the North. She attended
Detroit Public Schools as well as a number of colleges before completing her master's degree from Wayne State
University's School of Social Work. A divorced mother of two, Henderson would exhibit an early enthusiasm for
politics, which remains with her, even in her retirement.
Acknowledging her ability and enthusiasm to enlist support of varied people, Reverend Charles Hill in 1945
and William Patrick, in 1957 employed her as a campaign manager as they sought to gain a seat on the Detroit
City Council. William Patrick would be the first African American of the 20th century to receive the necessary
votes to win a seat on the Council. With experience, motivation and the necessary skills, she successfully ran
for City Council herself in 1972 and received the necessary votes to become its president in 1977 and again in
1981. Her efforts to run for Mayor against Coleman Young in 1989, although unsuccessful, demonstrated the
popularity she had assumed in her role as a member of City Council. Her efforts to ensure that African
Americans gain admittance to hotels and restaurants in the 1950s, receive fair treatment in the criminal justice
system in the wake of the 1967 Civil Disturbance, and secure mortgages and loans without the threat of
discriminatory treatment, also known as redlining, are some of the more important issues for which she lent her
voice of support.
Henderson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including an Honorary Doctorate of Humane
Letters from Shaw College (1974) and the Detroit News' "Michiganian of the Year" (1978).
The first Black African American woman to manage a major presidential campaign when she ran Al Gore’s 2000
race- is a professor, columnist and political advisor.
Donna Brazile is one of the best known and most influential African American women in modern American
political life. She is Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute (VRI), an
organization established in 2001 to help protect and promote the rights of all Americans to participate in the
political process. Brazile is the author of Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, a memoir
about her life in the political arena, and co-author of What We Do Now, which was published by Melville House
as the first Black African American woman to lead a major
presidential campaign when she served as Campaign Manager for
Gore-Lieberman 2000. Prior to joining the Gore campaign, Brazile
was Chief of Staff and Press Secretary to Congresswoman Eleanor
Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia where she helped guide
the District’s budget and local legislation on Capitol Hill.
A veteran of numerous national and statewide campaigns, Brazile
worked on several presidential campaigns for Democratic
candidates, including Carter-Mondale in 1976 and 1980, Rev. Jesse
Jackson’s first historic bid for the presidency in 1984, Mondale-
Ferraro in 1984, U.S. Representative Dick Gephardt in 1988,
Dukakis-Bentsen in 1988, and Clinton-Gore in 1992 and 1996; and
Brazile is a weekly contributor and political commentator for CNN, a political consultant for ABC News, and a
contributor to NPR’s Political Corner. She is also a columnist for Roll Call Newspaper and Ms. Magazine.
In addition to working at VRI, Brazile serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. She has served
as a senior lecturer at the University of Maryland, resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics
and as the Senator Wyona Lipman Chair at Rutgers University Center for American Women in Politics.
In August 2009, O, The Oprah Magazine chose Ms. Brazile as one
of its 20 _remarkable visionaries for the magazine_s first-ever O
Power List. In addition, she was named among the 100 Most
Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine, Top 50 Women in
America by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional
Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement.
A former member of the board of directors of the Louisiana
Recovery Authority, responsible for leading the state's rebuilding
process in the aftermath of two catastrophic hurricanes, Ms. Brazile
Louisiana, the only historically Black, Catholic institution of higher education in the United States.
degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1981 and was
awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Louisiana State
University in May 2005. Firmly grounded in her humble Louisiana roots,
Brazile is a fierce advocate for the poor and minorities. She currently
serves on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the
guiding agency charged with addressing the state’s recovery after
Baseball’s color barrier. Doby had more career homers (253 to
197), RBIs (970 to 734) and only three fewer hits than Jackie
Robinson. In 1997, when baseball honored the late Robinson by
retiring #42 from every club, Doby’s accomplishments were largely
Camden, SC; died on June 18, 2003, in Montclair, NJ; married
Helyn Curvey; children: Chris, Leslie, Larry, Jr., Kim, Susan
Attended Long Island University; New York University; Virginia Union University. Military/Wartime Service:
U.S. Navy, 1944-45.
Newark Eagles baseball team, second baseman, 1942-44, 1946-47; Cleveland Indians baseball team, center
fielder, 1947-55, coach, 1974; Paterson Panthers basketball team, 1947; Chicago White Sox baseball team,
coach, 1956-57, manager, 1978; Montreal Expos baseball team, coach, 1971-73, 1976; New Jersey Nets
basketball team, director of community relations, 1977, 1980-89; Major League Baseball Properties, licensing
Breaking the color barrier 50 years ago, in 1947, Larry Doby
became the first black baseball player in the American League
when he joined the Cleveland Indians. In an interview with
New York Times reporter George Vecsey, baseball player
Willie Mays emphasized, "Don't forget Larry Doby. Larry came
right after Jackie [Robinson] .... From what I hear, Jackie had
Pee Wee Reese and Gil Hodges and Ralph Branca, but Larry
didn't have anybody."
Black to play in the American Basketball League.
Lawrence Eugene Doby was born on December 13, 1924, in Camden, South Carolina. Son of a semi-pro
baseball player who died when Doby was eight, he grew up in Camden, moving to Paterson, New Jersey, in his
teens. At Eastside High School, as the only black player on the team, he lettered in baseball, football, and
basketball. He also lettered in track.
In 1942, as a 17-year-old, Doby joined the Newark Eagles of the Negro National Baseball League, playing
second base under the name of Larry Walker to protect his amateur standing. Former shortstop Willie Wells
was the manager. Wells told him, Doby recalled to New York Times reporter Dave Anderson in 1997, "You're
here because you can play. Don't let anybody intimidate you because of your age." His first professional
baseball game was played at Yankee Stadium.
Faced Racism in Major League
At the end of the season, the talented Doby signed a contract with the Paterson Panthers of the American
Basketball League. The next two years were spent in the U. S. Navy, but he returned to the Eagles, leading
them to a Negro National League pennant and World Series championship win over the Kansas City Monarchs.
Doby's batting average, .415, and home run total, 14, were at the top of the league in his final season.
Two years later Doby would again play on a winning World Series team, this time in the major leagues. Bill
Veeck purchased the 22-year-old second baseman from the Eagles, making Doby the first African American to
jump straight from the Negro leagues into the majors. Doby recalled, according to Ira Berkow in the New York
Times, that when Veeck signed him he said, "'Lawrence,'--he's the only person who called me Lawrence--'you are
going to be part of history.' Part of history? I had no notions about that. I just wanted to play baseball. I mean, I was
young. I didn't quite realize then what all this meant. I saw it simply as an opportunity to get ahead."
Doby continued his recollection, "When Mr. Veeck signed me, he sat me down and told me some of the do's and
don'ts.... 'No arguing with umpires, don't even turn around at a bad call at the plate, and no dissertations with
opposing players; either of those might start a race riot. No associating with female Caucasians'--not that I was
going to. And he said remember to act in a way that you know people are watching you. And this was something that
both Jack [Robinson] and I took seriously. We knew that if we didn't succeed, it might hinder opportunities for the
other Afro-Americans." Robinson and Doby became and stayed friends, supporting each other through the
extraordinary pressures that included open hostilities from team members and opponents.
Saturday, July 5, 1947, at Comisky Park in Chicago. When player-
manager Lou Boudreau took him into the visiting team locker room,
some of the players shook his hand, but most did not. Doby did not
realize then what the next 13 years would entail: that he would be
segregated even during spring training for ten of those years; that
he would eat in a separate restaurant and sleep in a separate hotel;
that day after day he would be called "coon," "jigaboo," or the "N-
word;" and that he would be spit in his face when he slid into second
base. Lou Brissie, a pitcher for the Philadelphia A's in 1947,
recalled in an interview with Berkow, "I was on the bench and heard
some of my teammates shouting things at Larry, like, 'Porter, carry my
bags,' or 'Shoeshine boy, shine my shoes,' and well, the N-word, too. It
Went From Field to Front Office
The next 15 months, until Satchel Paige became his roommate, Doby would be lonely, especially after games.
He told Berkow, "It's then you'd really like to be with your teammates, win or lose, and go over the game. But I'd
go off to my hotel in the black part of town, and they'd go off to their hotel."
Doby's talent at least garnered fans due to his speed and skill as a center fielder and to his hard-hitting runs. In
1948 his home run won the fourth game of the World Series. After the series, in his home town of Paterson, the
citizens, Black and white, paraded him to the steps of his former high school. In 1949 his five-hundred-foot ball
cleared the bleachers at Washington's Griffith Stadium and landed on the roof of a house. An irate mother called
the Senators' front office and complained, "You'll have to stop it. Someone from your stadium just threw a ball
onto our house and woke up my children, and now I can't get them back to sleep."
Doby was the league leader a number of times. In 1952 he led in runs, and in 1951 and 1954 he led in home
runs and runs batted in. He became the first black player to hit a home run in a World Series. He made six
straight All-Star teams, including the 1949 team where he played along with three other distinguished men:
Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe. In 1950 he and "Luscious" Luke Easter gave
Cleveland the most powerful black duo in baseball.
When Doby retired after a 13-year career in which he played with the Indians, White Sox, and Detroit Tigers,
his batting average was .283. Out of the 1,533 games he played, he'd hit 253 home runs.
In 1955 Doby played his last game with the Indians, then played briefly with San Diego in the Pacific Coast
League, and in Japan, where he became one of the first blacks to play professional baseball in that country,
before taking a two-year-coaching position with the Chicago White Sox. In 1968, after a hiatus of eight years
during which he sold insurance and worked at other vocations, Doby joined the Montreal baseball organization
in Canada. Doby expressed to a New York Times reporter, "I went crazy. If I get up at 6 a.m. to go to an office, I
hate it. I can get up at six for baseball, and love it."
In 1971, he coached first the Montreal Expos, then the Cleveland Indians, before returning to the Expos.
Doby became director of community relations for the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association in
1977. The late commissioner Bart Giamatti insisted it was wrong that such a pioneer could only find work in the
front office of the Nets. Doby was offered a position with the Major League Baseball Properties in 1979,
handling the licensing of former players and advising Gene Budig, the American League president.
Gained Long Overdue Recognition
Doby did not get the recognition that Jackie Robinson received over the years, yet he never became bitter,
preferring to keep a low profile. When he shared his history with students in Northfield, Minnesota, during a
Carleton College program founded by former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, Doby stated, "If we all look
back, we can see that baseball helped make this a better country for us all, a more comfortable country for us
all, especially for those of us who have grands and great-grands. Kids are our future and we hope baseball has
given them some idea of what it is to live together and how we can get along, whether you be black or white."
Despite never connecting himself to political or social issues, Doby remained committed to improving the
welfare of children. During the time he worked as the director of community relations for the New Jersey Nets
in the 1980s, Doby involved himself in a number of inner-city youth programs. In 1997 Harvey Araton in the
New York Times quoted Aubray Lewis as saying, "He [Doby] is more than a role model. He is an American
hero." Lewis was the dinner chairman for a $500-a-plate sports memorabilia dinner and auction benefiting
Project Pride, a Newark college preparatory and scholarship organization that Doby, a volunteer board member,
served with for more than nine years.
Black Sports Hall of Fame in 1973. He was one of 38 athletes chosen that
year by the editors of Black Sports magazine. In 1997 New Jersey
Representative William Pascrell suggested naming the main post office in
Paterson after Doby. That same year, Princeton and Fairfield Universities
bestowed honorary doctorates on Doby. When Montclair State University,
a baseball throw from Doby's home, decided the new baseball stadium
would be christened Yogi Berra Stadium, New York Times reporter
Araton submitted that the name, Berra-Doby Field, would better represent
Star game in Cleveland, almost 50 years to the day of his start in the
majors. Former teammate Lou Brissie gave Knight-Ridder Newspapers
reporter Bill Robinson a summation of Doby that has been echoed by many
professionalism." Brissie added, "Larry, in my mind, deserves whatever honor that baseball can give him. He
In 1997 Doby went through surgery to have his left kidney removed because it contained a cancerous tumor.
He told Jet magazine "Thank God, I've never been sick, and this is the first time I've ever gone through
anything like this." At the same time more honors for Doby started arriving. The Cleveland Indians had a week
of tributes to the player, culminating in Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White announcing that five playgrounds
were going to be dedicated as Larry Doby All-Star Playgrounds, the first of which was to be at the King-
Kennedy Boys and Girls Club in Cleveland's Central neighborhood. Jet magazine reported White as saying,
"This new playground stands as a lasting reminder that young people can and must learn from Larry Doby's
example. They must take pride in who they are and put forth their very best, even when confronted by challenge or
monuments commemorating Doby's baseball highlights, one of which will be put
into each Larry Doby All-Star Playground. It was in 1998, however, that Doby
received the highest honor a baseball player can garner - he was inducted into
the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was elected because of his major league record,
but also in large part because of his role in helping to break the color barrier in
the game of baseball. At the ceremony Doby thanked Bill Veeck for giving him
the opportunity to prove himself. He told the Knight Ridder/Tribune News
Service that "the people of Cleveland 'treated me with nothing but respect.' He
said he never expected to be a racial pioneer, to be a Hall of Famer." On June
18, 2003, Larry Doby died after a long struggle with cancer in his hometown of
Montclair, New Jersey. Nearly 300 people attended his funeral, including Rachel
Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson, Mike Veeck, the son of Bill Veeck
who started Doby in his major league career, Baseball greats Yogi Berra, Phil
Rizzuto, and Joe Morgan, New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, U.S.
Senator Frank Lautenberg, and Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey.
courage, tenacity, and class ... a friend to man who stood above men." And he will go down in history as a man
who, through his talent at baseball, helped African Americans gain their place in professional sports.
Negro World Series championship, 1946; first black in the American League, 1947; first black in the American
Basketball League, 1947; played in two World Series, 1948, 1954; member of the World Series Champion
Cleveland Indians, 1948; played in six consecutive All Star Games, 1949-54; center fielder, Man of the Year,
Baseball Writers Association of Sporting News, 1950; elected to Cleveland Hall of Fame, 1955; National Black
Sports Hall of Fame, 1973; Baseball Hall of Fame, 1977; led the American League in slugging, 1962; batted
542; honorary doctorate, Montclair State University; honorary doctorates, Princeton and Fairfield Universities,
1997; honored by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, 1997; honored at the All-Star game in Cleveland,
1997; five Larry Doby All-Star Playgrounds dedicated, Cleveland, 1997; inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame,
|Barack Hussein Obama II - born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is
the first African American to hold the office, as well as the first president born in Hawaii. Obama previously
served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to
the presidency in November 2008.
Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the
Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a
civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992
to 2004. Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a
seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he ran for United States Senate in 2004. During the
campaign, several events brought him to national attention, such as his victory in the March 2004 Democratic
primary election for the United States Senator from Illinois as well as his prime-time televised keynote address
at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He won election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.
Obama began his run for the presidency in February 2007. After a close campaign in the 2008 Democratic
Party presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton, he won his party's nomination. In the 2008 general
election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009.
Obama is the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Parents' Background & Meeting
Barack Obama's parents met in a basic Russian language course while both were attending the University of
Hawaii at Manoa, where Obama's father was enrolled as a foreign student. Obama was born at the Kapi'olani
Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, Hawaii, with his birth being announced in The Honolulu
Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Obama was born in Kapolani Medical Center at 2:30 PM in the afternoon off of, 1319 Punahou Street on
August 4, 1961. The Honolulu Advertiser reports that:
The future president's first boyhood home is still standing on (6085) Kalaniana'ole Highway, in the
Kuli'ou'ou area between 'Aina Haina and Hawai'i Kai. The yellow, four-bedroom, single-story home was
built in 1948. Nani Smethurst, who has owned the home since 1979, said the place is essentially the same
as it was when it was built, although it has been upgraded and landscaped by Smethurst, who is an
architect. The property also has a 450-square-foot cottage in the back that was built in 1953. It's feasible
the couple occupied the back cottage at 6085 Kalaniana'ole. Public records from the time show that
Barack H. Obama, 25, also had a residence at 625 11th Ave. in Kaimuki. The 11th Avenue address is now
occupied by a larger dwelling that was built in 1990.
Old friends in Mercer Island, Washington recall his mother visiting them with her new baby later on that
summer. She subsequently enrolled at the University of Washington, and lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood
of Seattle as a single mother with her son. She and her son left Seattle in the summer of 1962 and she re-
enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
In 1963, Obama moved to 1427 Alexander Street, Apartment 110, which still exists in 2009. Later that year and
for 3 years, Obama's mother's address was listed in the University of Hawaii directory as 2277 Kamehameha
Ave. In 1964, Obama lived at 2234 University Ave. a single story home in the Manoa area of Honolulu near
Noelani Elementary School. His parents divorced in January 1964. After the separation, he, his mother and his
grandparents moved into a single-story home in the Manoa district. His father received a Masters degree in
Economics from Harvard University, then returned to Kenya, where he became a finance minister before dying
in an automobile accident in 1982.
Throughout his early years, Obama was known at home and at school as "Barry." He attended kindergarten at
Noelani Elementary School, near his home. While still resident in Manoa, Dunham married Indonesian student
Lolo Soetoro who was attending the University of Hawaii. When Suharto, a military leader in Soetoro's home
country, came to power in 1967, all students studying abroad were recalled and the family moved to Indonesia.
During his time in Indonesia, Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, from ages 6 to 10, where classes were
taught in the Indonesian language. He first attended St. Francis Assisi Catholic school for almost three years.
When his family moved to a new neighborhood, Menteng, he attended the secular, government-run SDN
Menteng 1 school (also known as the Besuki school) for his fourth year. Obama was a Cub Scout while living in
Indonesia. Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng remembered Obama's stepfather as "not religious", and
"never went to prayer services except for big communal events" When Obama was in third grade he wrote an
essay saying that he wanted to become president. His teacher later told the Chicago Tribune that she was not
sure what country he wanted to become president of but that he said that his reason for becoming president was
that he wanted to make everybody happy.
maternal grandparents at 1617 S. Beretania, Apt. 1206 and two years
later at Apt. 1008. In 1973, Obama's mother returned to Hawaii and
lived in one of the nine apartments at 1839 Poki Street. Obama
attended the exclusive Punahou School, a private school in
Honolulu. He worked at a nearby Baskin Robbins, which still stands
in 2009. His maternal grandparents lived at the Punahou Circle
apartments on South Beretania Street, Honolulu, while attending
Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from the fifth
grade until his graduation in 1979.
Obama's mother, Ann, died of ovarian cancer and uterine cancer a few months after the publication of his 1995
memoir, Dreams from My Father.
In the memoir, Obama describes his experiences growing up in his mother's middle class family. His
knowledge about his African father, who returned once for a brief visit in 1971, came mainly through family
stories and photographs. Of his early childhood, Obama writes: "That my father looked nothing like the people
around me — that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk — barely registered in my mind." The book
describes his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He wrote
that he used alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my
mind". Obama has said that it was a seriously misguided mistake. At the Saddleback Civil Presidential Forum
Barack Obama identified his high-school drug use as his greatest moral failure. Obama has stated he has not
used any illegal drugs since he was a teenager.
Some of his fellow students at Punahou School later told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that Obama was mature for
his age as a high school student and that he sometimes attended parties and other events in order to associate
with African American college students and military service people. Reflecting later on his formative years in
Honolulu, Obama wrote: "The opportunity that Hawaii offered — to experience a variety of cultures in a climate
of mutual respect — became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear."
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama took a well publicized trip to Hawaii to visit his dying
grandmother and suspended his campaign.
Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years. He
then transferred to Columbia College in New York City, where he majored in political science with a
specialization in international relations. Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia in 1983, then worked at
Business International Corporation and New York Public Interest Research Group.
Early Career In Chicago
After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer. He worked for
three years from June 1985 to May 1988 as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-
based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland,
West Pullman, and Riverdale) on Chicago's far South Side. During his three years as the DCP's director, its
staff grew from 1 to 13 and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000, with accomplishments including
helping set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization
in Altgeld Gardens. Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, a
community organizing institute. In the summer of 1988, he traveled for the first time to Europe for three weeks
then to Kenya for five weeks where he met many of his paternal relatives for the first time.
Harvard Law School
Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988. In an interview with Ebony in 1990, he stated that he saw a
degree in law as a vehicle to facilitate better community organization and activism: "The idea was not only to
learn how to hope and dream about different possibilities, but to know how the tax structure affects what kind of
housing gets built where." At the end of his first year he was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review
based on his grades and a writing competition. In February 1990, his second year at Harvard, he was elected
president of the law review, a full-time volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the law
review's staff of 80 editors. Obama's election as the first black president of the law review was widely reported
and followed by several long, detailed profiles. He got himself elected by convincing a crucial swing bloc of
conservatives that he would protect their interests if they supported him. Building up that trust was done with
the same kind of long listening sessions he had used in the poor neighborhoods of South Side, Chicago. Richard
Epstein, who later taught at the University of Chicago Law School when Obama later taught there, said Obama
was elected editor "because people on the other side believed he would give them a fair shake."
While in law school he worked as an associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989, where he met his
wife, Michelle, and where Newton N. Minow was a managing partner. Minow later would introduce Obama to
some of Chicago's top business leaders. In the summer of 1990 he worked at Hopkins & Sutter. Also during
his law school years, Obama spent eight days in Los Angeles taking a national training course on Alinsky
methods of organizing. He graduated with a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991 and returned to
Settling Down In Chicago
The publicity from his election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review led to a contract and
advance to write a book about race relations. In an effort to recruit him to their faculty, the University of
Chicago Law School provided Obama with a fellowship and an office to work on his book. He originally planned
to finish the book in one year, but it took much longer as the book evolved into a personal memoir. In order to
work without interruptions, Obama and his wife, Michelle, traveled to Bali where he wrote for several months.
The manuscript was finally published as Dreams from My Father in mid-1995.
her in Hyde Park, a liberal, integrated, middle-class Chicago neighborhood
with a history of electing reform-minded politicians independent of the
Daley political machine. The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born
in 1998; their second, Natasha (known as Sasha), in 2001.
influential Chicagoans. One of Michelle's best friends was Jesse Jackson's
daughter, Santita, later the godmother of the Obamas' first child.
Michelle herself had worked as an aide to Mayor Richard M. Daley. Marty
Nesbitt, a young, successful black businessman (who played basketball
with Michelle's brother, Craig Robinson), became Obama's best friend and
introduced him to other African-American business people. Before the
marriage, according to Craig, Obama talked about his political ambitions,
even saying that he might run for president someday.
Obama directed Illinois Project Vote from April to October 1992, a voter registration drive, officially
nonpartisan, that helped Carol Moseley Braun become the first black woman ever elected to the Senate. He
headed up a staff of 10 and 700 volunteers that achieved its goal of 400,000 registered African Americans in the
state, leading Crain's Chicago Business to name Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be.
Although fundraising was not required for the position when Obama was recruited for the job, he started an
active campaign to raise money for the project. According to Sandy Newman, who founded Project Vote, Obama
"raised more money than any of our state directors had ever done. He did a great job of enlisting a broad
spectrum of organizations and people, including many who did not get along well with one another."
The fundraising brought Obama into contact with the wealthy, liberal elite of Chicago, some of whom became
supporters in his future political career. Through one of them he met David Axelrod, who later headed Obama's
campaign for president. The fundraising committee was chaired by John Schmidt, a white former chief of staff to
Mayor Richard M. Daley, and John W. Rogers Jr., a young black money manager and founder of Ariel Capital
Management. Obama also met much of the city's black political leadership, although he didn't always get along
with the older politicians, with friction sometimes developing over Obama's reluctance to spend money and his
insistence on results. "He really did it, and he let other people take all the credit", Schmidt later said. "The
people standing up at the press conferences were Jesse Jackson and Bobby Rush and I don't know who else.
Barack was off to the side and only the people who were close to it knew he had done all the work."
Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years, as a Lecturer for four
years (1992–1996), and as a Senior Lecturer for eight years (1996–2004). During this time he taught courses in
due process and equal protection, voting rights, and racism and law. He published no legal scholarship, and
turned down tenured positions, but served eight years in the Illinois Senate during his twelve years at the
In 1993 Obama joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 12-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights
litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to
1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002. The firm was well-
known among influential Chicago liberals and leaders of the black community, and the firm's Judson H. Miner,
who met with Obama to recruit him before Obama's 1991 graduation from law school, had been counsel to
former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, although the law firm often clashed with the administration of Mayor
Richard M. Daley. The 29-year-old law student made it clear in his initial interview with Miner that he was more
interested in joining the firm to learn about Chicago politics than to practice law. During the four years Obama
worked as a full time lawyer at the firm, he was involved in 30 cases and accrued 3,723 billable hours.
Obama was a founding member of the board of directors of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife,
Michelle, became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago in early 1993. He served on the
board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund Obama's
DCP, from 1993–2002, and served on the board of directors of The Joyce Foundation from 1994–2002.
Membership on the Joyce and Wood foundation boards, which gave out tens of millions of dollars to various
local organizations while Obama was a member, helped Obama get to know and be known by influential liberal
groups and cultivate a network of community activists that later supported his political career. Obama served
on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge from 1995–2002, as founding president and
chairman of the board of directors from 1995–1999. He also served on the board of directors of the Chicago
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Lugenia
Burns Hope Center. In 1995, Obama also announced his candidacy for a seat in the Illinois state Senate and
attended Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March in Washington, DC.
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|Black African Americans Who Have Made History
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symphony. He taught the Bass, Oboe, Violin and Chloe and in 1936, he wrote and
performed in a major musical orchestra in the deep South being the first to create and
perform in a Black African American symphony.
classical composer who wrote more than 150 compositions. He was the first African -
American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a
symphony of his own (his first symphony) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to
have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera
William Grant Still was born in Woodville, Mississippi. He was the son of two teachers, Carrie Lena Fambro
Still (1872-1927) and William Grant Still (1871-1895), who was also a partner in a grocery store and performed
as a local bandleader in his free time. They were of mixed origin: African-American, Native American, Spanish
and Anglo. His father, William Grant Still Sr., died when William was 3 months old and his mother, Carrie Lena
Fambro Still, took him to Little Rock, Arkansas where she married Charles B. Shepperson and taught high
school English for 33 years. Shepperson, his stepfather, nurtured his musical interests by taking him to
operettas and buying Red Seal recordings of classical music which the boy greatly enjoyed. The two attended a
number of performances by musicians on tour. William Still grew up in Little Rock, and there William started
violin lessons at age 14. The youth also taught himself how to play the clarinet, saxophone, oboe, double bass,
cello and viola, and showed a great interest in music. His maternal grandmother introduced him to African
American spirituals by singing them to him. At age 16 he graduated from M. W. Gibbs High School in Little
His mother wanted him to go to medical school, so Still pursued a Bachelor of Science degree program at
Wilberforce University, founded as an African-American school, in Ohio. He conducted the university band,
learned to play various instruments and started to compose and to do orchestrations. He also studied with
Friedrich Lehmann at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music on scholarship. He later studied with George
Whitefield Chadwick at the New England Conservatory again on scholarship, and then with the ultra-modern
composer, Edgard Varèse.
Still initially composed in the modernist style but later merged musical aspects of his African-American heritage
with traditional European classical forms to form a unique style. In 1931 his Symphony No. 1 was performed by
the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Howard Hanson, making him the first African-
American composer to receive such attention. In 1936, Still conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Orchestra and became the first African-American to conduct a major American orchestra.
In 1949 his opera Troubled Island was performed by the New York City Opera and became the first opera by an
African-American to be performed by a major company. In 1955 he conducted the New Orleans Philharmonic
Orchestra and became the first African-American to conduct a major orchestra in the Deep South. Still's works
were also performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Tokyo
Philharmonic Orchestra, and the BBC Orchestra. He was the first African-American to have an opera
performed on national[where?] television. Additionally, he was the recording manager of the Black Swan
Between 1919 and 1921, Still worked as an arranger for W.C. Handy's band and later played in the pit orchestra
for Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake's musical "Shuffle Along." Later in the twenties, he served as the arranger of
Yamekraw, a " Negro Rhapsody " composed by the noted Harlem Stride Pianist, James P. Johnson. In the
1930s Still worked as an arranger of popular music, writing for Willard Robison's "Deep River Hour", and Paul
Whiteman's "Old Gold Show", both popular NBC Radio broadcasts.
Still eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, where he arranged music for films. These included Pennies
from Heaven (the 1936 film starring Bing Crosby and Madge Evans) and Lost Horizon (the 1937 film starring
Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt and Sam Jaffe). For Lost Horizon he arranged the music of Dimitri Tiomkin. Still
was also hired to arrange the music for the film Stormy Weather but left the assignment after a few weeks due
to artistic disagreements.
William Grant Still received two Guggenheim Fellowships. He also was awarded honorary doctorates from
Oberlin College, Wilberforce University, Howard University, Bates College, the University of Arkansas,
Pepperdine University, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and
the University of Southern California.
Still married Verna Arvey, a journalist and concert pianist, in 1939. They remained together until he died of
heart failure in Los Angeles, California, in 1978.
One of America's most important early black composers, William Grant Still's music is undergoing a revival.
Yet to be revived, however, are his operas. Still composed nine, one of which, Troubled Island, was the first
opera composed by an African-American to be performed by a major national opera company; it premiered at
the New York City Opera, in 1949, with a libretto by Langston Hughes.
|William Grant Still, Musician
African American autistic savant and musical prodigy on the piano. He had
numerous original compositions published and had a lengthy and largely
successful performing career throughout the United States. During the
19th century, he was one of the most well-known American performing
Wiggins was born on the Wiley Edward Jones Plantation in Harris County,
Georgia. Blind at birth, he was sold in 1850 along with his slave parents,
Charity and Mingo Wiggins, to Columbus, Georgia lawyer, General James
Neil Bethune. The new owner re-named the child Thomas Greene
Bethune or Thomas Wiggins Bethune (according to different sources).
slaves, Tom was left to play and explore the Bethune plantation.
By age four he reportedly had acquired intuitive, if rudimentary—and imitative—piano skills based solely on
hearing. He continually intruded upon the Bethune family residence to gain access to the piano, with Bethune's
daughters abetting these intrusions. By age five Tom reportedly had composed his first tune, The Rain Storm,
based on his aural impressions of a torrential downpour. After his extraordinary music skills were recognized by
General Bethune, Tom was permitted to live in a room attached to the family house, away from the slave
quarters. The small room was equipped with a piano. Bethune hired professional musicians to play for Tom, who
could faithfully reproduce their performances, often after a single listening. Eventually he learned a reported
7,000 pieces of music, including hymns, popular songs, waltzes, and classical repertoire.
There are conflicting historical accounts of Blind Tom's first public performance, some indicating he was as
young as three. One account from 1857 indicates that he had been performing publicly for several years.
Newspaper reviews and audience reactions were favorable, prompting General Bethune to undertake a concert
tour with Tom around their home state of Georgia. Tom later toured the South with Bethune or accompanied by
hired managers, though their travels and bookings were sometimes hampered by the North-South hostilities
which were drawing the nation towards Civil War. In 1860, Blind Tom performed at the White House before
President James Buchanan. Mark Twain attended many of Blind Tom's performances over several decades and
chronicled the proceedings.
On- and offstage Tom often referred to himself in the third person (e.g., "Tom is pleased to meet you"). His
piano recitals were augmented by other talents, including uncanny voice mimicry of public figures and nature
sounds. He also displayed a hyperactive physicality both on stage and off. A letter written in 1862 by a soldier in
North Carolina described some of Tom's eccentric capabilities: "One of his most remarkable feats was the
performance of three pieces of music at once. He played 'Fisher's Hornpipe' with one hand and 'Yankee
Doodle' with the other and sang 'Dixie' all at once. He also played a piece with his back to the piano and his
hands inverted." At concerts, skeptics attempted to confirm if Tom's performance replications were mere
trickery; their challenge took the form of having Tom hear and repeat two new, uncirculated compositions. Tom
did so perfectly. The "audience challenge" eventually became a regular feature of his concerts.
In 1866, at the age of 16, Tom was taken on a European tour by General Bethune.
In 1875, General Bethune transferred management of Blind Tom's professional affairs to his son John Bethune,
who accompanied Tom on tour around the U.S. for the next eight years. Beginning in 1875, John brought Blind
Tom to New York each summer. While living with John in a boarding house on the Lower East Side, Tom
added to his repertoire under the tutelage of Joseph Poznanski, who also transcribed new compositions by Tom
for publication. Many of these were, at Tom's insistence, published under such pseudonyms as Professor W.F.
Raymond, J.C. Beckel, C.T. Messengale, and Francois Sexalise.
In 1882, John Bethune married his landlady, Eliza Stutzbach, who had demonstrated a knack for mollifying
Tom's sometimes volatile temperament. However, shortly after their marriage, John Bethune embarked on an
extended tour of the U.S. with Tom, in effect abandoning Eliza. When Bethune returned home eight months
later, his wife filed for divorce. The couple split up—John took Tom—but a bitter legal squabble ensued, with
Eliza hounding John for financial support, a claim that the courts usually adjudicated in John's favor. After John
Bethune died in a railway accident in 1884, Tom was returned—over Eliza's objections—to the care of General
Bethune (now living in Virginia). After a protracted custody battle in several courts, in August 1887 Tom was
awarded to Eliza (putatively acting on behalf of Tom's elderly mother Charity), who moved Tom back to New
York. Charity accompanied them with the understanding that she would benefit financially from Tom's earnings.
However, after it became apparent that Eliza did not intend to honor any financial obligations to Charity, Tom's
mother returned to Georgia.
Tom continued performing and touring for a number of years under the management of Eliza and her attorney
(and later husband) Albrecht Lerche. Tom was on tour in western Pennsylvania in May 1889 on the day of the
Johnstown Flood, and rumor spread that he was among the casualties. Despite his continued appearances on
the U.S. concert circuit, the rumor persisted for years, with some observers expressing skepticism that the
Blind Tom who appeared in concert after 1889 was the "real Blind Tom."
After being dogged by incessant legal challenges to her custodianship of Tom, Eliza took Tom off the concert
circuit around 1893.
Tom spent the next ten years as a ward of Eliza and her husband, who divided their time between New York city
and New Jersey's Navesink Highlands. In 1903 Eliza arranged for Tom to appear on the popular vaudeville
circuit, beginning with Brooklyn's Orpheum Theater. He spent almost a year performing in vaudeville, before
his health began to deteriorate. It is believed he suffered a stroke (described in some reports as "partial
paralysis") in December 1904, which ended his public performing career.
After the death of her husband, Eliza relocated to Hoboken, New Jersey, with Tom. They kept out of public
view, though neighbors could hear Tom's piano playing at all hours of the day and night. Tom suffered a major
stroke in April 1908, and died the following June. He was buried in the Cemetery of the Evergreens in
Brooklyn, New York.
The people of Columbus, Georgia, raised a commemorative headstone for him in 1976. He was the subject of a
play titled HUSH: Composing Blind Tom Wiggins, which was performed on the Atlanta stage with Del Hamilton
as director. In 1999 John Davis recorded an album of Tom's original compositions on a CD entitled John Davis
Plays Blind Tom. A biography, The Ballad of Blind Tom, by Deirdre O'Connell, was published in 2009.
|"Blind Tom" Wiggins, Musician
American journalist and author. Her journalism career began as a
reporter for the Arkansas Democrat, a major newspaper in
Arkansas. She also worked in television news in Little Rock and
Washington. She was White House correspondent for the Gannett
News Service. She returned to Arkansas and newspaper journalism
at the Arkansas Gazette as an editorial columnist and associate
editor. (The Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette are now
merged into the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.)
nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. Her
recent book, Yet a Stranger: Why Black Americans Still Don't Feel at
Home has met with mixed reviews. Ms. Mathis lives with her
husband and children in Chevy Chase, Maryland
Deborah Mathis' Arkansas roots run deep. Before becoming a nationally known author, syndicated columnist,
respected television commentator and professor of journalism, she was simply a girl growing up in Little Rock,
the daughter of the Rev. Lloyd Myers (now deceased) and Mrs. Rachel A. Myers Jones.
Mathis was born in Little Rock on August 24, 1953. Her journalistic pursuits began as early as junior high
school when she became the first black editor of West Side Junior High's school newspaper. In 1970 she
became the first black and first female editor of Central High School's Tiger student newspaper. From the early
70's through the early 90's, Mathis was busy establishing herself as a journalist and broadcaster. She served in
various positions " reporter, editor, columnist and anchor " at statewide media outlets including the Arkansas
Democrat, Arkansas Gazette, KARK-Channel 4, KTH V-Channel 11, and KATV-Channel 7 From Arkansas,
Mathis career took her to briefly to Jackson, Mississippi before she landed in Washington, D.C., where she
was a White House Correspondent for Gannett News Service from 1993-2000.
Since 1992, Mathis has been a syndicated columnist, appearing in more than 100 U.S. publications and
periodicals. She is also a contributor to such outlets as USA Today and BlackAmericaWeb.com and a frequent
commentator on political and public affairs talk shows such as PBS's Frontline, CNNs Inside Politics NPR's All
Things Considered America's Black Forum and Oprah, to name a few. She also field-produced, wrote and
narrated two nationally aired documentaries: "Edukashun: The Cost of Failure" (1982) and "Return of the
Little Rock Nine" (1987).
Mathis is the author of Yet A Stranger Why Black Americans Still Don't Feel at Home and the forthcoming Sole
Sisters: The Joys and Pains of Single Black Women (Spring 2004)
More recently she became an assistant professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism
(Washington office) the mother of three adult children, Mathis lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
|Deborah Mathis, Journalist & Author
tinkering with electronics with her father and reading books on electronics
written for adolescent boys. The likelihood of her enjoying a career in science
seemed bleak, as her all-girls high school did not push her to take advanced
science or math classes or encourage her in that direction. Nonetheless, her
curiosity was piqued and upon her graduation from high school, she set out on
the path to become a scientist.
a student, graduating with a degree in physics (one of only two women in her
class to do so). She accepted a position with the National Aeronautics and Space
Administ serving as a data analyst.
processing system that would allow a satellite to transmit images from space.
In 1976 Thomas attended a scientific seminar where she viewed an exhibit demonstrating an illusion. The
exhibit used concave mirrors to fool the viewer into believing that a light bulb was glowing even after it had
been unscrewed from its socket. Thomas was fascinated by what she saw, and imagined the commercial
opportunities for creating illusions in this manner.
In 1977 she began experimenting with flat mirrors and concave mirrors. Flat mirrors, of course, provide a
reflection of an object which appear to lie behind the glass surface. A concave mirror, on the other hand,
presents a reflection that appears to exist in front of the glass, thereby providing the illusion that they exist in a
three-dimensional manner. Thomas believed that images, presented in this way could provide a more accurate,
if not more interesting, manner of representing video data. She not only viewed the process as a potential
breakthrough for commercial television, but also as scientific tool for NASA and its image delivery system.
Thomas applied for a patent for her process on December 28, 1978 and the patent was issued on October 21,
1980. The invention was similar to the technique of holographic production of image recording which uses
coherent radiation and employs front wave reconstruction techniques which render the process unfeasible due
to the enormous expense and complicated setup. Parabolic mirrors, however, can render these optical illusions
with the use of a concave mirror near the subject image and a second concave mirror at a remote site. In the
description of her patent, the process is explained. "Optical illusions may be produced by parabolic mirrors
wherein such images produced thereby are possessed with three dimensional attributes. The optical effect may
be explained by the fact that the human eyes see an object from two viewpoints separated laterally by about six
centimeters. The two views show slightly different spatial relationships between near and near distant objects
and the visual process fuses these stereoscopic views to a single three dimensional impression. The same
parallax view of an object may be experienced upon reflection of an object seen from a concave mirror." (Free
Patents Online). The Illusion Transmitter would thus enable the users to render three-dimensional illusions in
Valerie Thomas continued working for NASA until 1995 when she retired. In addition to her work with the
Illusion Transmitter she designed programs to research Halley's comet and ozone holes. She received
numerous awards for her service, including the GSFC Award of Merit and the NASA Equal Opportunity Medal.
In her career, she showed that the magic of fascination can often lead to concrete scientific applications for real-
|Valerie Thomas, Scientist Engineer
professional American football player and coach in the National Football
League. Dungy was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996
to 2001, and head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2002 to 2008. He
became the first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl when
his Colts defeated the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007. On December
18, 2008 after securing his tenth straight playoff appearance with a win
against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dungy set a new NFL record for
consecutive playoff appearances by a head coach.
Indianapolis Colts, which went into effect after the 2008–2009 season.
Since retirement, Dungy has become an informal mentor to the formerly
suspended NFL player Michael Vick, counseling him during his
incarceration and, with the help of Donovan McNabb, convincing Eagles
owner Jeff Lurie and head coach Andy Reid to consider signing him to the
Born in Jackson, Michigan, Dungy is one of the four children of Wilbur and CleoMae Dungy, both of whom
were educators. Wilbur was a physiology professor, while CleoMae was a high school English teacher. They
encouraged a focus on academics early on in their children's lives. Tony Dungy attended Parkside High School,
where he played guard position on the basketball team and the quarterback position on the football team.
Dungy was featured in the Sports Illustrated section Faces in the Crowd in the January 26, 1970 issue which
profiled his accomplishments as a high school athlete when he was 14 years old.
Dungy was recruited by University of Minnesota coach Cal Stoll and played for the Golden Gophers from 1973
to 1976. He entered the starting lineup as a quarterback during his freshman year and after playing for four
years finished as Minnesota's career leader in pass attempts (576), completions (274), touchdown passes (25),
and passing yards (3,577). He also finished fourth in career total offense in the Big Ten Conference. He
received Minnesota's Most Valuable Player award twice. Dungy also played basketball as a freshman, and was a
teammate and roommate of current Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders.
He had desired to go to Michigan State University, but when Duffy Daugherty retired, Dungy followed the
assistant coach from Michigan State to the University of Minnesota.
Dungy was signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League as a defensive
back, where he played as a reserve and special teams player for the Steelers in 1977 and the Super Bowl
champion 1978 seasons, leading the team in interceptions in the latter campaign. In 1979 Dungy was traded to
the San Francisco 49ers, then finished his career a year later in the training camp of the New York Giants in
Dungy is the only NFL player since the AFL-NFL merger to intercept a pass and throw an interception in the
same game. Dungy was the emergency quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 1977 game against the
Houston Oilers when both Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek went down with injuries on October 30, 1977.
He played safety on defense.
Assistant coaching positions
Following his NFL experience as a player, Dungy was invited to become an assistant coach for his alma mater,
the University of Minnesota in 1980. After one season in charge of defensive backs, he was asked to come
back to the NFL as a coach. He was hired as an assistant coach with the Steelers by Chuck Noll, his former
coach, in 1981. His work under Noll put Dungy in the Sid Gillman coaching tree.
In 1982, he was named defensive backfield coach, and was promoted in 1984 to defensive coordinator. He left
the Steelers in 1989 to become the defensive backs coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, and took over the
defensive coordinator position for the Minnesota Vikings under Dennis Green in 1992. While at Minnesota,
Dungy's defense was ranked first in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dungy achieved his dream of being an NFL head coach when he was hired by Rich McKay to reform the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers, a team well-known for its lack of success, on January 22, 1996. Dungy installed his version of
the Cover 2 defense with Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin with a few new wrinkles now known as the
famous Tampa 2.
1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season
Despite losing the first few games in 1996, the Buccaneers finished strong and showed signs of developing into
a winning team. After a home win versus the Raiders, the Buccaneers fell to a quick 14–0 hole to the Chargers
in San Diego, where the Buccaneers had not won on the west coast in over 15 years. Instead of folding, the
team fought to a hard win. Many feel that was the game in which the team turned the corner.
1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season
In 1997, the Buccaneers finished second in the NFC Central division, Tampa Bay's first winning season since
1982 after starting the season 5-0 matching the only time the Bucs were ever undefeated with as many wins in
the 1979 season. In the last game played at Tampa Stadium, the Bucs defeated the Detroit Lions in their first
playoff game, losing the next game to the defending champion Green Bay Packers.
Under Dungy's watch, the Buccaneers made four playoff appearances and won their division in 1999 only to lose
to the St. Louis Rams in the NFC Championship Game. However, Tampa Bay under Dungy struggled to reach
the playoffs in 1998. They went on to reach the playoffs again in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Also, in his last three
playoff games, Tampa Bay was offensively shut out. Constant changes to the offensive coordinator position
despite a successful 2000 offensive ranking were often to blame, as QB Shaun King had to work with 3 different
coordinators in 3 years. Dungy was fired by the team on January 14, 2002 due to the club's repeated losses in
the playoffs including two lopsided defeats (in 2000 and 2001) to the Philadelphia Eagles; and because it was
determined by the team's higher management that the conservative offense that Dungy ran was too inconsistent
against NFL teams. The following year, the Buccaneers easily defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2002
NFC Championship game under coach Jon Gruden en route to the club's first Super Bowl appearance and
On January 22, 2002, Dungy was hired as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, a team that at the time was very
potent offensively, but very weak defensively. He installed his "Tampa 2" defense immediately and continued
to retool the Colts' defense to his liking during his tenure. After joining the Colts, Dungy left the high-powered
offense previously installed there by Jim Mora, in both playing style and in personnel, virtually unchanged.
Dungy was reunited with Tom Moore, who was retained as offensive coordinator. Moore and Dungy had
previously worked together at Minnesota and Pittsburgh.
During his early tenure in Indianapolis, Dungy struggled to fix the Colts' defense and had mixed results in the
postseason. In his first season at Indianapolis the Colts were shut out 41–0 by the New York Jets in a first-
round playoff game, and the team lost postseason games to the New England Patriots in both 2003 (in the AFC
championship game) and 2004 (in the second round of the playoffs). Dungy signed a three-year contract
extension in October 2005 for US$ 5 million per year.
The Colts focused on defensive improvements during the 2005 off-season, signing five-year defensive tackle
Corey Simon. Widely expected to be a Super Bowl contender, the Colts won their first 13 games, prompting
much speculation about the possibility of the Colts becoming the NFL's first team to finish the season
undefeated since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
However, this dream was shattered when the Colts lost their 14th game to the San Diego Chargers. The Colts
did manage to obtain home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but were defeated in the divisional playoff
round against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This loss made the Colts the first team to ever start a season
13–0 and not reach the Super Bowl.
The Colts 2006 playoff run was characterized by a marked improvement in defensive play, as the Colts defeated
the Kansas City Chiefs, holding one of the NFL's best running backs to less than 50 yards, and upset the
favored Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round. On January 21, 2007, after trailing 21-3, the Colts defeated
the New England Patriots to become AFC Champions and advanced to Super Bowl XLI. This was the largest
comeback in the conference-title game history.
On February 4, 2007, Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts won Super Bowl XLI 29–17 over Lovie Smith and the
Chicago Bears at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.
On January 21, 2008, Dungy announced that he would return at least for the 2008 season
On January 12, 2009, Tony Dungy announced his retirement from the NFL. Subsequently, Jim Caldwell (the
former Wake Forest head coach) was chosen as the new head coach for the Indianapolis Colts after being
named Dungy's future successor a year earlier.
In June 2009, NBC Sports hired Dungy to serve as a studio color analyst on the network's weekly Sunday Night
Football pre-game show, Football Night in America.
Dungy's career has included several notable firsts. Among them, Dungy is the first NFL head coach to defeat all
32 NFL teams. He was also the youngest assistant coach at age 25 and the youngest coordinator at age 28 in
Dungy was the first Black head coach to win the Super Bowl (with the Colts' victory over the Bears in 2007).
He was however the third Black head coach to win a pro football championship in North America, behind
Darren Arbet of the San Jose Sabercats (Arena Football League) who won ArenaBowl XVI in 2002 and Pinball
Clemons of the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League) who won the 92nd Grey Cup in 2004. He is also
the second minority head coach to win a Super Bowl, the first being Tom Flores who coached the Oakland
Raiders, winning Super Bowl XV and Super Bowl XVIII.
Dungy also became the sixth man to play in a Super Bowl and be the head coach of a Super Bowl team. He joins
Dan Reeves, Sam Wyche, Mike Ditka, Forrest Gregg and Flores. After the win in Super Bowl XLI, Dungy
became the third man to win Super Bowls both as a player and a head coach, following Ditka and Flores.
On offense, Dungy's strategy involved a conservative, ball-control offense based primarily around running the
ball and short, high-percentage passes when he was at Tampa Bay. At Indianapolis, he inherited and kept the
offense designed by offensive coordinator Tom Moore because the offense was in the hands of someone he
knew and trusted. In both cases, most of the offensive planning has been handled by his offensive coordinators.
On defense, Dungy uses a stifling "Cover 2" style zone defense, which is usually based on a formation with 4
linemen, 3 linebackers, and 4 defensive backs. The "Cover 2" defense Dungy uses involves having his linemen
rushing the passer, the cornerbacks covering the passing flat area, the linebackers covering the middle of the
field, and the safeties providing deep coverage on each half of their respective zones. While the Cover 2
defense is not a new concept, the personnel that Dungy uses in this defense is very specific, and as a result, his
style of defense has earned the moniker of the "Tampa 2" around the NFL
Like Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh, Mike Holmgren and Marty Schottenheimer, Dungy is also
credited with supporting and fostering the development of defensive-minded coaches, during his tenure with
the Bucs. His contributions have had a great effect on the diversity of the league and helped lead to the
institution of the Rooney Rule by Steelers owner Dan Rooney, requiring teams to interview minority coaches.
As of January 29, 2009, three members from Dungy's coaching staff are head coaches of NFL teams:
Moreover, Rod Marinelli, the defensive line coach under Dungy at Tampa Bay, was the head coach of the
Detroit Lions between 2006 and 2008, Mike Shula, the offensive coordinator under Dungy at Tampa, was the
head coach of Alabama between 2003 and 2006, and Herman Edwards, the former head coach for the New York
Jets and Kansas City Chiefs was an assistant head coach under Dungy at Tampa Bay.
Joe Barry, a linebackers coach under Dungy at Tampa Bay, was the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions
between 2006 and 2008. Leslie Frazier, a defensive backs coach under Dungy at Indianapolis, is the defensive
coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings.
Although Dungy is listed as not only a part of the Bill Walsh coaching tree, but also a part of the Marty
Schottenheimer coaching tree, the Dungy tree grew from the roots of the Pittsburgh Steelers' dynasty of the
1970s. He was influenced by the defensive schemes learned under Chuck Noll and Bud Carson. Dungy said
that he inherited most of the coaching philosophies from Noll and he is proud be a protégé of Noll.
Dungy formed his philosophy by taking something from virtually every coach he came in contact with—Noll (as
player and then coach in Pittsburgh), Walsh (as player in San Francisco), Schottenheimer (as coach in Kansas
City) and Green (as coach in Minnesota) -- and blending it with his own beliefs and Christian values.
Dungy stresses that coaches are essentially teachers who put faith and family ahead of football and do not
belittle their players or scream at them. Also, like Dungy, they remain calm when things go badly. They guide
instead of goad, and Lovie Smith found that perhaps the most instructive thing of all.
Smith said, "We talked about how to do it, being a teacher instead of screaming and yelling, all that stuff."
Smith also said, "I think as you look to young coaches coming up in the ranks, a lot of us have a picture of how a
coach is supposed to be, how he is supposed to act...And I think what Tony Dungy showed me is you don't have to
act that way."
Dungy said, "I really wanted to show people you can win all kinds of ways. I always coached the way I've wanted to
be coached. I know Lovie has done the same thing. For guys to have success where it maybe goes against the grain,
against the culture ... I know I probably didn't get a couple of jobs in my career because people could not see my
personality or the way I was going to do it ... For your faith to be more important than your job, for your family to be
more important than that job ... We all know that's the way it should be, but we're afraid to say that sometimes.
Lovie's not afraid to say it and I'm not afraid to say it."
Dungy also learned from Noll that it takes all 53 of the players on the team to win so that a coach should train
the 33rd player on the roster as he would the third player, which has become the spine of Dungy's own coaching
philosophy, which is the Next Man Up theory of calm coaching. Dungy stressed that a team should have a
thought process, a philosophy and the conviction to stick with it, even if the personnel changes during the
games because of injuries. Dungy said, "Chuck's philosophy was to convince every guy on the team that his role
was important. If you came in as a free agent and were just a gunner on the punt team or the third safety, you were
doing something the team needed to win...It was his way of emphasizing that no one is irreplaceable. You have to
coach everybody the same way. If Joe Greene goes out, Steve Furness goes in and we're not going to change
anything. Chuck never panicked when someone got hurt or held out. We can still function. That made a big
impression on me."
Dungy put his coaching beliefs on his memoir, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a
Winning Life. (ISBN 1-414-31801-4) Cam Cameron, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, highly
recommended the book by buying 1,000 books to give away to football coaches at his preseason coaching clinic
in July 2007 in South Florida, and said, "It dispelled so many myths about the coaching business -- that you had to
be a yeller and a screamer to win. You can be your own person, treat people with respect, be very demanding but
demanding in a way that doesn't trample on people. And you don't have to give up your faith to win in the NFL. It
confirmed and re-affirmed an awful lot of the beliefs I held about coaching…
In August 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Dungy a member of the President's Council on Service
and Civic Participation. The 25-member council represents leaders from government, business, entertainment,
athletics and non-profit organizations committed to growing the spirit of service and civic participation. The two-
year appointment requires attendance at two in-person meetings per year and quarterly phone conversations
with assigned committees. After receiving the call from President Bush, Dungy remarked "It was something
that was really hard to believe. Certainly, when you go into football coaching, you’re not expecting to get
presidential appointments to anything."
In March 2009 President Barack Obama invited Dungy to join the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and
Neighborhood Partnerships. He turned the offer down.
Dungy's tenure in Tampa Bay as the head coach of the Buccaneers brought greater attention to his personal
accomplishments outside of sports. Tony Dungy has earned widespread respect both on and off the field due to
what many see as strong convictions and high personal standards of ethics and behavior, which affect his
behavior as both a coach and as a member of his community. He has been active in many community service
organizations in the cities in which he has coached. While in Tampa Bay, Dungy worked as a public speaker for
the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes in Action.
He began a mentoring program for young people called Mentors for Life, and provided Buccaneers' tickets for
the participants. He also supported other charitable programs in the area such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters,
Boys and Girls Club, the Prison Crusade Ministry, foster parenting organizations, and Family First. His
community involvement and care continues in Indianapolis where Tony helped launch the Basket of Hope
program which aids patients at the Riley Hospital for Children. He continues to assist Big Brothers/Big Sisters
and the Boys and Girls Club in Indianapolis. He also supports the Black Coaches Association National
Convention and Indiana Black Expo.
Dungy is a devout evangelical Christian and at one point in his coaching career considered leaving football for
the prison ministry. Throughout his career, he has remained involved with community service organizations. On
March 20, 2007, Dungy aligned himself with a socially conservative organization, the Indiana Family Institute,
and openly supported an amendment to the Indiana constitution which would have defined marriage as solely
between one man and one woman.
Dungy is married to Lauren Harris of Pittsburgh and has two daughters, Tiara and Jade, and four sons, Jamie
(died December 22, 2005), Eric, Jordan and Justin. Jamie committed suicide at age 18, outside of Tampa. The
Dungys still keep their home in the Tampa Bay area.
On September 6, 2007, The Indianapolis Star reported that the Davie-Brown Index (DBI), an independent
celebrity rating service for advertisers, places Dungy in the top 15 of the 900 actors, musicians, TV
personalities, and sports celebrities it ranks for overall appeal, putting him on a level with actors such as Tom
Hanks and Morgan Freeman. Among sports figures, he ranks second only to Hank Aaron.
On February 27, 2008, Indiana Wesleyan University honored Dungy in a ceremony where he was inducted into
IWU's Society of World Changers. Dungy also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the
On August 5, 2009, Dungy spoke at the 53rd General Council of the Assemblies of God.
Dungy's memoir, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life, was released on
July 10, 2007 and reached No. 1 on the hardcover nonfiction section of the New York Times Best Seller list on
August 5, 2007 and again on September 9, 2007. Tyndale House Publishers said it was the first NFL-related
book ever ranked No. 1. When asked why he wrote Quiet Strength, Dungy said, "It's not something I ever really
thought of doing. I've had several people ask me about it for a number of years. Several people asked about it after
winning (the Super Bowl). I was hoping, really, not to do it... I think it becomes kind of what happens. You win a
Super Bowl, you have a big achievement, and you write a book. And I didn't want to be one of those guys, but a lot of
people thought that it was the right time -- and it did turn out to be that. I think people were looking for something
positive to read, and we had a lot of negative in the sports world. I think it just came out at the right time. Maybe the
Lord's timing was good."
Dungy said he’d actually gotten "more satisfaction" from the success of Quiet Strength than the Super Bowl
win. That’s because, he said, "I’ve gotten so many calls and letters from people saying they really got
something out of it, something that helped them." On January 10, 2008, Quiet Strength reached 1,000,000
copies in print. Quiet Strength was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 32 weeks, including 27 in the
top 10 for hardcover nonfiction.
Dungy also published a 96-page paperback called Quiet Strength: Men's Bible Study on July 18, 2007. Dungy
challenged men to answer six questions: What's my game plan? What's my strength? What's success? Where's
my security? What's my significance? And, what's my legacy? The book is aimed specifically at men, including
those who may not otherwise be interested in spiritual matters.
When asked if Dungy would consider writing a follow-up to Quiet Strength, Dungy said, "Three months ago, I
would've said 'no' for sure. But the impact of this one has been beyond what I could've dreamed and there may be
another one in the future. The focus would probably be on how to develop leadership and a coaching strategy for
whatever business you're in; coaching for your family, business, or sport based on Christian principles."
Dungy published a 24-page children's picture book called You Can Do It with Little Simon Inspirations, a
division of Simon & Schuster on July 8, 2008, reached No. 1 on the children's picture books section of the New
York Times Best Seller list on July 27, 2008 and stayed on the top 10 for 5 weeks. The book tells the story of
Dungy's younger brother Linden who struggles, then figures out his life dream and is encouraged by his family
to follow that dream as a dentist. Dungy said that his other hopes for You Can Do It were that it would
encourage parents to read to their kids and that kids would learn the lesson of pursuing whatever field they
were gifted in, even if it might be not the popular thing to do.
Dungy has also published Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance, a book revealing lessons on achieving
significance that Dungy has learned. The book, released on February 17, 2009 with Tyndale House Publishers,
particularly focuses on what it means to be a man of significance in a culture that is offering young men few
positive role models. Dungy said, "Our young men today are falling into a trap... Society is telling them material
success is what's important, but if we buy into that idea, we can spend a lifetime chasing that success and never
really have the positive impact on people that would make our lives truly significant."
Uncommon reached No. 2 on the hardcover advice section of the New York Times Best Seller list and stayed
on the top 10 for 9 weeks.
Dungy graced the cover of NFL Head Coach 09 as its "cover coach". The previous head coach on the cover
was Bill Cowher. Ironically, both coaches would retire the season after their games were published.
|Tony Dungy, Football Coach
OU's eighth national championship
Led the Sooners with a 14.050 on pommel horse in Team Qualifier.
2008: Placed second on rings (15.500) and p-bars (14.950) and third on h-bar (14.600)
at Penn State
NCAA team finals
recruited by Michigan, Cal Berkley, Penn State, Ohio State and Illinois. Brother, Mubarak, was a member of
the OU team in 2004 and 2005; Majoring in human relations.
|Taqiy Abdula Simmons, 2007 Gymnast
|The Triple Nickels (Military)
|Test Platoon - First 16 qualified black paratroopers (1944) Enlisted men of the Test Platoon.
Front Row from L-R: First Sgt. Walter Morris, first black enlisted man accepted for airborne duty
• Sgt. Jack D. Tillis • Sgt. Leo D. Reed • Sgt Daniel Weil *S. Sgt. Hubert Bridges
• Tech. Grade IV Alvin L. Moon • Sgt. Ned D. Bess • Sgt. Roger S. Walden
Back Row from L-R • Cpl. McKinley Godfrey, Jr. • Sgt. Elijah Wesby • Sgt. Samuel W. Robinson
• S. Sgt. Calvin R. Beal • S. Sgt Robert F. Greene • S. Sgt. Lonnie M. Duke • Sgt. Clarence H. Beavers
and Sgt. James E. Kornegay.
Not Shown Carstell O. Stewart, the seventeenth, who was on emergency leave and earned his wings a week later.
|The Officers of the test platoon (1944) Left to Right
• First Lt. Jasper E. Ross, Chicago, IL
• Second Lt. Clifford Allen, Chicago, IL • Second Lt. Bradley Biggs, Newark, NJ
• Second Lt. Edwin H. Wills, Washington, DC
• Second Lt. Warren C. Cornelius, Atlantic City, NJ • Second Lt. Edward Baker, Chicago, IL
|Smoke Jumpers -- Army paratroopers of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion stand at ease during inspection.
The men were issued the usual "let-down" ropes and football helmets with wire face masks,
but wore sheepskin outer garments rather than canvas smokejumper suits.
|All Black Parachute Platoon
The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion - 1944 - 1947 during WWII
|Munsan-ni, Korea, 23 March 1951.
Heavily armed paratroopers and rangers descend into the rice paddies during an airborne assault on Good Friday morning.
|Smoke Jumpers (Military)
|The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (PIB)
Let us travel back to the origins of this unit, its conversion from a highly trained and combat ready parachute
unit to the extremely dangerous role of "smoke jumping" and their performance in one of the best kept secret
operations in World War II. Through December 1944 and January 1945, the Triple Nickles had continued to
jump, maneuver, and grow to a strength of over four-hundred battle-ready officers and men. During that same
period a far more deadly action was taking place on the battlefields of Belgium - the Battle of the Bulge - the
massive German counterattack in the Ardennes that began on 16 December 1944. It lasted more than a month
and before the Germans were turned around, the American army had suffered some 77,000 casualties. Many of
them had been paratroopers - men from General Jim Gavin's 82nd Airborne Division and General Maxwell
Taylor’s 101st who had made the heroic stand at Bastogne. The cry was out for replacements, not only in
paratroopers ranks but throughout the European Theater of Operation (ETO) combat command.
embarrassment at the 1936 Olympics of a Black American named Jesse
Owens was fresh in our minds. We eagerly anticipated pitting the Nazis
against another group of black champions - men like Walter Morris, "Tiger
Ted" Lowry, Jab Allen, Edwin Wills, Jim Bridges, Roger Walden, the list
goes on." Bradley Biggs, Lt. Col. USA (Ret.) recalls in his book THE
He goes on to say, "We soon found that we would not go as a battalion but
rather as a "reinforced company". The reason was simple, we had not
trained or maneuvered as a battalion. The original orders authorizing the
555th said we would not begin such training until we had reached a strength
of twenty-nine officers and six hundred enlisted men. This could have been
achieved if commanders army-wide had released volunteers and approved
scores of requests for parachute duty."
for now the smaller number had some advantages. It had enabled them to concentrate on intensive individual
and small-unit training. Riflemen, machine gunners and mortar men had sharpened their aim to perfection.
Training in judo and other forms of hand-to-hand combat were intensified. They had time and opportunity to
become superb combat men. No goof-offs were allowed.
Moreover, men could be sent to schools for special training as riggers, jumpmasters, pathfinders, demolition
experts, and communications men. Jump demonstrations and small unit maneuvers had helped them to perfect
the tactics and logistics essential to many paratrooper combat missions, especially those requiring no more than
a company-size force, such as an attack on an enemy communications center, bridge, enemy headquarters or
So when the order came to "skeletonize" to one reinforced company of eight officers and 160 men, the battalion
had a pool of the best from which to choose the super-best. It began with a downward shift of command, a move
for which everyone was fully prepared. The battalion executive officer, for example Captain Richard W.
Williams became the company commander. Williams, the eleventh officer to join the Triple Nickles, had come
to the organization as a first lieutenant from the 92nd Infantry Division. A well-built, muscular man, he was
known as a tough, aggressive officer, filled with imaginative ideas and a sense of adventure.
The battalion S3 (Plans and Training), lst Lt. Edwin Wills, the real "brains" of the training program, became the
company executive officer. The commanders of A, B, and C rifle companies became platoon leaders, with each
given his choice of an assistant platoon leader. Each former company commander chose his executive officer.
First sergeants became platoon sergeants and platoon sergeants became squad leaders.
This special company was ready to take on anybody. But suddenly midway through the rigorous combat training,
their destiny changed. By, April 1945, the German armies were collapsing. Americans were on the Elbe River -
and would stay there. From the east the Russians were moving on Berlin, and the fall of the German capital was
only weeks away. It seemed unlikely that any more paratroopers would be needed. In late April 1945, the
battalion received new orders - a "permanent change of station" to Pendleton Air Base, Pendleton, Oregon for
duty with the U.S. Ninth Service Command on a 'highly classified" mission in the U.S. northwest. No one had
any idea of what the mission would be.
On 5 May 1945, the battalion left Camp Mackall for Oregon. The move was made in about six days. Ninety-
eight percent of it by rail the rest by battalion motor vehicle or private auto - including Graphite. Sergeant
Lowry and two other NCO’s brought the faithful old Ford cross-country. (Graphite was a two-door 1937 Ford,
owned by Lt. Julius F. Lane and Lt. Bradley Biggs). It was the battalion’s service vehicle.
Apparently no one had noticed a brief Associated Press item that had appeared in the New York Times of 10
September 1944. With a Portland, Oregon dateline headed "Fire Fighters Use Parachutes", the story reported
that: "Crews have been dropped by parachute to fight forest fire in many areas of the Northwest. A blistering
summer sun indirectly caused fire in six areas in Idaho in the last 48 hours. An eight man unit crew was
dropped to fight a blaze in the Lost Horse Pass Country of Idaho. Other parachutists were dropped into the
back woods of Chelan National Forest to battle 300 acre Fire".
On 6 May, while the battalion was still en route west, a woman named Elsie Mitchell and five children were on a
Fishing trip near Bly, Oregon. One of them found a strange object on the ground and the others went to
investigate. Suddenly the object exploded, killing all six. First news reports said it was a blast of "unannounced
Actually, the object had been a Japanese bomb that had traveled across the Pacific on a hydrogen-filled balloon.
Though it remained a tightly-guarded secret for a time, the Mitchell's had been the victims of the first
intercontinental air attack on this country. Since early November, 1944 the Japanese had been launching these
"balloon bombs" - layered silk-like bags with clusters of incendiary bombs and explosives attached to them.
The secrecy continued even after one balloon caused a near calamity at the Hanford Engineering Works in
Washington state, then turning out uranium slugs for the atomic bomb that would destroy Nagasaki. One of the
balloons descending in the Hanford area became tangled in electrical transmission lines causing a temporary
short circuit in the power for the nuclear reactor cooling pumps. Backup safety devices restored power almost
immediately, but if the cooling system had been off a few minutes longer a reactor might have collapsed or
exploded and this country could have had a Chernobyl for which it was totally unprepared. The havoc would
have been unimaginable.
By January, 1945, however, both Time and Newsweek magazines had told of two woodchoppers near Kalispell,
Montana who had found a balloon with Japanese markings on it. By the time the battalion arrived in Oregon the
veil of secrecy was partially lifted. The War and Navy Departments had issued statements to the local populace
describing the bombs and -warning people not to tamper with anything resembling them.
Each time a balloon descended below 25,000 feet from loss of gas and cooling, a pressure switch automatically
dropped a sandbag. This caused the balloon to rise again toward the 35,000 foot level. The balloons traveled up
to 123 miles an hour, and took from 80 to 120 hours to reach the U.S., depending on weather. If the Japanese
have it figured right the last sandbag has been dropped only after the balloon has reached this country. At that
time a second automatic switch takes over.
When the balloon dropped to 27,000 feet a bomb was released. The balloon rose up and then down again and
another bomb is released and so on. When the last incendiary or bomb was dropped, a fuse ignited automatically
and set off a demolition charge which destroyed the balloon. Fortunately, all of the demolition charges didn't
work and some balloons we recovered intact. As part of this joint operation the U.S. Air Corps was increasing
its air patrols flown by P-51 aircraft to try to sight the balloons and shoot them down before they reached the
coast. Watchers along the coast also gave sighting warnings for air patrol action.
Not mentioned publicly at the time was the possibility that Japan might equip the balloons with the capability to
carry out some form of chemical-biological warfare. Their experiments with prisoners of war in the notorious
unit 731 were not known until much later - but they began in 1937 and point to existence of a Japanese program
to develop for use deadly biological agents. Such agents quite possibly could have been delivered in quantity to
the United States mainland by balloons.
Also not mentioned was the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. By now they knew that they had acquired a
new, temporary nickname, the "Smoke Jumpers", and that it would be part of the highly secret project known
more officially as "Operation Firefly".
It was clear that the white people of Umatilla County were not used to seeing many black faces in their midst.
Clearly there would be few of the joys of the service clubs and homes of Atlanta or Fayetteville. A few of the
troopers and a handful of officers would finally be able to find passable living quarters in town where their
families could join them. But these were few indeed.
When we arrived however, we had more pressing things than social life on our minds. We were assigned
quarters in the center of the post garrison area, close to the airfield and operations shed. Once settled, Captain
Porter, our commanding officer, and Lieutenant Wills, his S3, set out to get more details in our mission and
The mission was soon clear enough. Working in teams out of Pendleton and Chico, California, we would be on
emergency call to rush to forest fires in any of several western states and join with the forest service men in
suppressing the blaze. At the same time, we would be prepared to move into areas where there were suspected
Japanese bombs, cordon off the area, locate the bombs, and dispose of them.
But this, we found, would call for an entirely new training program. We knew how to jump from airplanes. But
the heavily-forested areas of the northwest presented drop zones that were more difficult and more dangerous
than any we had faced before. We knew, how to handle parachute lines. But here we would be using a new type
of chute - one with special "shroud lines" for circling maneuvers. We knew how to read military maps, but the
forestry service maps were something new. We were used to explosives, but we had little, if any, experience in
the disarming of bombs - particularly any of Japanese origin.
Fire fighting was an entirely new experience.
All of this and our past "jumper" experience, was a prelude to the great experience of integration. Our mind
sets, individually and collective outlooks gave a new and different meaning to our lives.
Our new station, Pendleton Air Base, lay in Umatilla County, in northeastern Oregon. It was located on a
plateau overlooking the town of Pendleton. The base at one time had accommodated B-29 bomber air corps
training units. Now, with the war winding down, it had been skeletonized into "caretaker" status. The area was
barren. We were the only unit except for control tower personnel and a small engineer maintenance contingent.
A consolidated mess would feed the 555th officers and men together. It was, however, still commanded by a full
colonel, a man who would quickly make it clear that he disliked having an all-black unit at his station. He was
careful that we did not mix with his officers, that our area was inspected with undue meticulousness, and that
the atmosphere of his office was "cool" to us. We didn't give a damn about all of that because we enjoyed eating
with our men and our areas were always clean and well-policed. But we disliked the fact that we had to serve
again under a prejudiced post commander. We had just left one at Mackall. And before that at Benning. Such
was the 555th’s lot.
The colonel's views were shared by the white civilian population in the area. In Pendleton, then a town of about
twelve thousand and famous as the home of the Pendleton Rodeo, the black soldiers, who were helping Oregon
save its forests, and possibly some of its people, found it difficult to buy a drink or a meal. Only two bars and
one restaurant would serve them anything.
Oregon had a long history of tensions over minority groups. First, in the nineteenth century, the Chinese had
suffered not only discrimination but outright violence. In the early twentieth century the Japanese had been the
targets. And in the 1920's, during a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, Oregon and Indiana were the two
northern state where the "invisible empire" seemed to find its most avid supporters. No doubt the Klan in
Oregon had been motivated by anti-Catholic, anti-"foreign" nativism than by a fear of blacks who were a small
target indeed. The 1930 census showed the black population of Oregon to have been 0.2 percent. It had hardly
changed by 1940.
Fire fighting, of course, was an entirely new experience. And it was in this field that a new training began on 22
May. Wills set up one of his brilliant training schedules. It was a three week program which included demolition
training, tree climbing and techniques for descent, if we landed in a tree, handling fire-fighting equipment,
jumping into pocket-sized drop zones studded with rocks and tree stumps, first aide training for injuries—
particularly broken bones. Troopers learned to do the opposite of many things they learned and used in normal--
jumps like deliberately landing in trees instead of avoiding them.
Troopers would jump with full gear, including fifty feet of nylon rope for use in lowering themselves when they
landed in a tree. Their steel helmets were replaced with football helmets with wire mesh face protectors.
Covering their jumpsuits and/or standard army fatigues, they wore the air corps fleece-lined flying jacket and
trousers. Gloves were standard equipment but not worn when jumping; bare hands manipulate shroud lines
Naturally their physical training program was intensified because missions often found troopers miles from
civilization and in heavily wooded and mountainous terrain. It paid off handsomely in that few injuries occurred
and only one death. On most of their missions troopers would work with forest rangers. The forest rangers
could walk up the hills like a cat on a snake walk. They taught the tough paratroopers how to climb, use an ax
and what vegetation to eat. At the time, troopers underwent an orientation program with forest service maps.
On 8 June, specially selected men began work with bomb disposal units of the Ninth Army Service Command,
learning the business of handling unexploded bombs.
Then came a new parachute. The parachute training was under a civilian, Frank Derry, who had designed the
special chute for jumping in heavily forested areas. A special feature of the "Derry chute" was its
maneuverability. By pulling the white shroud line the chutist could turn himself into a 360 degree circling
movement. This, in turn, gave him a wider choice of landing areas - a vital factor when trying to avoid tangles
with the highest trees in the thickly-timbered areas.
The parachute training included three jumps, two in clearings and one in the heavy forest. The C-47 pilots who
carried the 555th were a friendly, gung-ho lot, many of them were veterans recently back from flying "the
hump" in Southeast Asia. Their spirit and were a welcome relief from that which we encountered among most
other whites in the area. Whenever a trooper was injured, the pilots often beat us to the hospital to see how the
injured smoke jumper was doing. One group of smoke jumpers will never forget the pilot who brought them all
home in one trip, when a rule-book flier might have made at least two trips.
By mid-July, the entire battalion had qualified as "Smoke Jumpers"-- the Army's first and only airborne
firefighters. Soon their operations would range over at least seven western states, and in a few instances,
southern Canada. And there would be two home bases - one in Pendleton, Oregon and one in Northern
California at the Chico Air Base.
The main group would be based at pendleton, with the mission of fighting fires and handling bombs in Oregon,
Washington, Montana, and Idaho. Another group of six officers and ninety-four men would be based at Chico, to
provide coverage for California.
FIRST FIRE CALL
The first fire call came in mid-July 1945 to suppress a blaze in Klamath National Forest in northern California.
Between 14 and 18 July, the Chico contingent supplied fifty-six men. It was a successful mission with no
The first call for the Pendleton contingent come just a few days later on 20 July—to drop fifty-three men and
two officers to fight a fire in the Meadow Lake National Forest in Idaho. The group took off at dawn in three
planes, arrived over the drop zone (DZ) at 0830 hrs. Flying in trail formation, each plane made a low level (200
feet) pass over the fire area, looking for an acceptable DZ.
"After checking the wind by watching the smoke from the fire", Captain Biggs recalls, "the pilot and I made the
decision on a one thousand foot drop—this was two hundred feet below the standard drop altitude. Swinging around
to take advantage of the wind, the pilot gave me the green light and held the plane in a slow jump-attitude until I
chose to jump. Once out, I did not manipulate or "slip" my chute—I just floated down like a wind dummy."
Meanwhile, the aircraft flew a 360-degree turn with the pilot and jumpmaster keeping their eyes on Capt. Biggs
descent trajectory to see if he had made a timely exit; that is jumped at the correct landmark in order to land on
the DZ without steering the chute. When he landed in the center of the DX, the pilot and the jumpmaster had
their points of reference to follow. While they were trained to handle themselves if they landed in trees, most of
the members chose clearings from force of habit and past experience.
During the initial pass of each C-47, an A5 container was dropped. The A5 contained axes, food, water, medical
supplies and radio gear. This equipment was sufficient to sustain the group until they linked up with the forestry
From 14 July to 6 October, the Chico and Pendleton units participated in thirty-six fire missions with individual
jumps totaling twelve hundred. There were also casualties. In six months, more than thirty men suffered
injuries from cuts and bruises to broken limbs and crushed chests. One typical report listed under "injuries":
"1 EM (enlisted man) broken leg above knee, 1 EM knee out of place, 1 EM crushed chest."
On one jump in early August, one of the men suffered a spinal fracture. He remained on the scene throughout
the fire fighting operation. Then, realizing his men were tired and short of food and water, he refused to burden
them with the job of carrying him to the nearest airstrip. Somehow he managed to stand up and without help,
walked straight-backed for eighteen miles to the strip where his units would be picked up by C-47 for the
return trip to Pendleton. He spent weeks in the Walla Walla Hospital. Pure Guts!
Tragically, one man lost his life. The ill-fated trooper had landed in the top of a tall tree. In attempting to climb
out his harness and lower himself with a rope that each man carried, he apparently slipped or lost his grip and
crashed into a rock bed 150 feet below. It took three days for patrols to find his body.
Capt. Biggs recalls, "that all was not work. On 4 July we staged demonstration jumps for the local populace. We
saw the famous Pendleton Rodeo. Killer Kane and I learned to fly from two grand guys, Pat Stubbs and Farley
Stewart. We went to movies and took time to hunt and fish. I spent my spare bucks flying and seeing the west.
We had storytelling sessions nightly at the BOQ. And we found the black WAC Company at Walla Walla Air
Base happy to visit us (and our accommodations). Meanwhile, Graphite was serving as battalion taxi, cargo
vehicle, and most loaned-out vehicle for anyone needing a ride to town.
For the first time in the annals of military history of any nation, a military organization of paratroopers was
selected to become "Airborne Firefighters". The Triple Nickles became not only the first military fire fighting
unit in the world, but pioneered methods of combating forest fires that are still in use today.
The conduct of The Triple Nickles during the heretofore highly secret and untold story contributed
immeasurably to the well-being of most Japanese Americans in internment camps. If it were known that the
Japanese balloons, the first unmanned intercontinental ballistic missiles, had been successful in reaching our
shores, the Japanese military machine would have strengthened its efforts in that area. If the secrecy of the
555th’s operation had been broken, there is no telling what additional maltreatment would have befallen the
incarcerated Japanese in western camps.
In October 1945, the battalion was assigned to the 27th Headquarters and Headquarters Special Troops, First
Army, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In December, it was attached to the13th Airborne Division at Fort Bragg,
where it proceeded to discharge "high point" personnel.
In February 1946, after two months of no supervision and watching friends leave for home, the 555th was
relieved from attachment to the 13th Airborne Division and attached to the 82nd Airborne Division for
administration, training, and supply. It retained its own authority to discipline and manage its own personnel
matters. Further attachment was made to the 504th Airborne Infantry Regiment, then commanded by a colonel
whose name will go down in history as the originator of "search and destroy missions" in Vietnam. General
William C. Westmoreland.
As an integral part of the 82nd Airborne, the finest American division of World War II and commanded then by
Major General James M. Gavin, a man who unlike so many white commanders, was color-blind, 555th went on
to become the first in many key areas of military innovations. Pioneering in integrating the Army was not the
least among them, an action that changed forever the character of the Army and the nation. Today it is an
acceptable fact that this pioneering by the 555th created the modern Army of today. And further, this
achievement spread into all sectors of society. For original Smoke Jumpers it is gratifying to know than many of
the techniques and equipment tested and developed during "Operation Firefly" are still in use in both civilian
and military fire fighting missions.
Traditional wisdom conveys to us that past events and history carry the portents and guidance for the future.
Dismissing that antiquated notion, these black soldiers relied on human perceptions of the known conduct of
black military men in the familiar hostile white environment both military and civilian. There was no necessity to
try to philosophize, theorize and intellectualize their role and contribution. Theirs was a new phenomenon to all
walks of American society and the meaning of the experience of pioneering in becoming the first military
"Smoke Jumpers" in the world. They shunted the windows of the past and dominated this scene by values of
character, drive, pride and unity.
|Early morning, 6 August 1945. Capt. Richard W. (Black Daddy) Williams,
battalion executive officer, and 1st Lt. Clifford (Jabo) Allen, commanding officer, headquarters company,
and jumpmaster for this “smoke jump” mission, peer through the open door
of the Troop Carrier Command C-47 at the spot where they will drop
2nd Lt. Harry Sutton and his fire fighting team, Lt. Sutton, on the left, smiling and bareheaded,
achieved immortal fame as the rifle company commander
whose unit held the ridge overlooking the Hungnam-Hamburg sea evacuation.
He was killed by a sniper a few days before the evacuation ended.
Posthumously awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action,
Sutton joined the ranks of Korean War heroes.
|A group of "Triple Nickle" loadmasters heft fire gear
into an Army air Corps C-47 at the Pendleton, OR, smokejumper base.
|Pictured above is the balloon portion and below is a side view of the ballast-dropping device on a balloon bomb.
The jet stream carried the bombs across the Pacific to Northwest forests during 1944 and 1945.
|Octavia Butler, Science Fiction Writer
science fiction in her field. She is noted for being the first science
fiction writer to receive the prestigious McArthur Foundation
Genius Grant for $295,000.
Butler. She was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, but she used her
stumbling block as a learning curve and began writing at age 10.
After watching a poorly written science fiction movie, she turned off
the television and challenged herself to write a better one.
Butler's first published book in 1974 was based on the story that she began writing after seeing the bad film as
a child. “Patternmaster” became a series of novels that she would extend over eight years. In 1979, she wrote
“Kindred,” a powerful story surrounding a character named Dana, a black woman, who is somehow transported
from L.A. in 1976 to early 19th century Maryland to meet her family's slave master and her ancestors. This was
her most popular book.
Butler’s unusual mix of concepts like race, sexuality, gender, religion, social progress and social class with
science fiction made her a one of a kind. She has received every major sci-fi award for her work, including the
MacArthur grant. Butler died in 2006, but there is now a scholarship in her honor for writers of color.
Octavia Butler grew up in California and started writing science fiction stories when she was a young girl. She
began getting published in the 1970s, then won a Hugo award for her short story, "Speech Sounds" in 1983. A
year later Butler won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for her novella "Bloodchild." Her novels include
"Parable of the Sower", "Parable of the Talents" and "Fledgling."
science fiction novels in which she explores topics traditionally given only cursory
treatment in the genre, including sexual identity and racial conflict. Butler's heroines
are black women who are both mentally and physically powerful. Butler grew up in a
racially mixed neighborhood in Pasadena, California. Her father died while she was
very young, and her mother worked as a maid to support the two of them. Butler has
written memoirs of her mother's sacrifices: buying her a typewriter of her own when
she was ten years old, and to paying a large fee to an unscrupulous agent so Butler's
stories could be read. Butler entered student contests as a teenager, and after
attending workshops like the Writers Guild of America, West "open door" program
during the late 1960s and the Clarion Science Fiction Writer's Workshop in 1970,
Butler sold her first science fiction stories. This early training brought her into contact
with a range of well-known science fiction writers, including Joanna Russ and Harlan
Ellison, who became Butler's mentor.
telepathically connected to one another. These beings are the descendants of Doro, a four thousand-year-old
Nubian male who has selectively bred with humans throughout time with the intention of establishing a race of
superhumans. He prolongs his life by killing others, including his family members, and inhabiting their bodies.
The origin of the Patternists is outlined in Wild Seed, which begins in seventeenth-century Africa and spans
more than two centuries. The Novel recounts Doro's uneasy alliance with Anyanwu, an earth-mother figure
whose extraordinary powers he covets. Their relationship progresses from power struggles and tests of will to
mutual need and dependency. Doro's tyranny ends when one of his children, the heroine of Mind of My Mind,
destroys him and united the Patternists with care and compassion. Patternmaster and Survivor are also part of
the Patternist series. The first book set in the future, concerns two brothers vying for their dying father's
legacy. However, the pivotal character in the novel is Amber, one of Butler's most heroic women, whose
unconventional relationship with one of her brothers is often interpreted in feminist contexts. In Survivor, set
on an alien planet, Butler examines human attitudes toward racial and ethnic differences and their effects on two
alien creatures. Alanna, the human protagonist, triumphs over racial prejudice and enslavement by teaching her
alien captors tolerance and respect for individuality. Kindred departs from the Patternist series yet shares its
focus on male/female relationships and racial matters. The protagonist, Dana, is a contemporary writer who is
telepathically transported to a pre-Civil War plantation. She is a victim both of the slave-owning ancestor who
summons her when he is in danger and of the slave-holding age in which she is trapped for increasing periods.
Clay's Ark (1984) reflects Butler's interest in the psychological traits of men and women in a story of a space
virus that threatens the earth's population with disease and genetic mutation. In an interview, Butler
commented on how Ronald Reagan's vision of a winnable nuclear war encouraged her to write more dystopic
material. This shift in focus is most evident in Parable of the Sower (1994), a novel which depicts a religious sea-
change, set against the backdrop of a strife-ridden inner city in 2025.
Critics have often applauded Butler's lack of sentimentality, and have responded favorably on her direct
treatment of subjects not previously addressed in science fiction, such as sexuality, male/female relationships,
racial inequity, and contemporary politics. Frances Smith Foster has commented: "Octavia Butler is not just
another woman science fiction writer. Her major characters are black women, and through her characters and
through the structure of her imagined social order, Butler consciously explores the impact of race and sex upon
Further Reading - Contemporary Literary
attended California State University at Los Angeles, 1969;
attended University of California at Los Angeles, 1970;
attended Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop, 1970.
"I didn't decide to become a science fiction writer," Octavia Butler claimed in an interview with Frances M. Beal
in the Black Scholar. "It just happened." Butler--the only recognized black woman writer in the genre--has
become one of sci-fi's leading lights, having published the Patternmaster series, the Xenogenesis Trilogy, the
celebrated historical fantasy Kindred, and 1993's highly praised dystopian saga The Parable of the Sower,
among other works. Along with "cyberpunk" novelist William Gibson, Terri Sutton of the LA Weekly listed
Butler among "science fiction's most thoughtful writers." Vibe magazine's Carol Cooper declared that what
Gibson "does for young, disaffected white fans of high tech and low life, Octavia Estelle Butler does for people
of color. She gives us a future."
Butler's work has helped put race and gender into the foreground of speculative fiction, exploring these and
other social and political issues with a developed sense of ambiguity and difficulty. Such explorations, Cooper
noted in Vibe, were previously absent from science fiction: "In the '70s, Butler's work exploded into this
ideological vacuum like an incipient solar system." As the award-winning author told Black Scholar, "A science
fiction writer has the freedom to do absolutely anything. The limits are the imagination of the writer."
Inspired Early By Science Fiction:
Butler was born on June 22, 1947, in Pasadena, California. Her father died during her infancy and her mother's
occupation provided Butler with early lessons in racism and economic inequity: "My mother was a maid and
sometimes she took me to work with her when I was very small and she had no one to stay with me," Butler
recalled to Black Scholar. "I used to see her going to back doors, being talked about while she was standing
right there, and basically being treated like a non-person." Butler recognized these kinds of working conditions
as a tradition in her own ancestry, and that legacy helped alienate her from her peers, who in the 1960s blamed
their parents' generation for contemporary problems. The realizations sparked by these issues helped inspire
Butler's novel Kindred, in which a modern black women travels back in time to the antebellum South and
confronts slavery first-hand.
Butler discovered her vocation at an early age. "I was writing when I was 10 years old," she told Black Scholar.
"I was writing my own little stories and when I was 12, I was watching a bad science fiction movie [Devil Girl
From Mars] and decided that I could write a better story than that. And I turned off the TV and proceeded to
try, and I've been writing science fiction ever since." The story upon which Butler embarked would form the
basis for her first published novel and the rest of the Patternmaster series.
Butler later attended Pasadena City College, winning a short-story contest during her first semester. After
receiving her Associate's degree in 1968, she moved on to California State University at Los Angeles, taking
"everything but nursing classes," as she recollected to Lisa See of Publishers Weekly. "I'm a little bit dyslexic
and worried about killing people." Thanks to the Open Door Program at the Screen Writers'Guild, Butler was
able to attend a class taught by esteemed science fiction writer Harlan Ellison. The venerated Ellison was
supportive of her work, offering to publish one of her stories in an anthology and encouraging her to attend the
Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop in Pennsylvania, described as a "boot camp" for would-be
practitioners of the genre.
Butler spent six weeks at Clarion. "We were all social retards," she quipped to Publishers Weekly about her
class there, "but we seemed to get along with each other." She elaborated on this sense of isolation among her
peers, believing that "to write science fiction you do have to be kind of a loner, live in your head, and, at the
same time, have a love for talking. Clarion was a good place for that." The workshop published an anthology in
1970 that included one of her stories. Ellison's collection, meanwhile, didn't get published.
Found First Success With Patternmaster:
After leaving Clarion, Butler hit something of a wall professionally, and ended up taking a series of low-paying
jobs. She supported herself and woke during the wee hours to write. She originally only wrote short stories but
finally deciding to undertake a novel near the end of 1974. The result was Patternmaster, which she executed
rather quickly after getting over her fear of novelistic length. She sent the manuscript to Doubleday where an
editor saw promise in the story. It was only after Butler made some of the major revisions suggested by the
editor that Doubleday agreed to publish the book, and by 1976 Patternmaster was on bookstore shelves.
Patternmaster addressed issues of class division with a plot revolving around telepathic people known as
"Patternists" and their domination over the mute, nontelepathic masses and mutant beings called "Clayarks."
Vibe's Carol Cooper praised Butler's characterizations, stating that "her lead characters--whether telepaths or
human/alien half-breeds--remained assertive black homegirls with attitude."
Butler wrote her next novel, a sequel to Patternmaster, while Doubleday was reviewing her first. Published in
1977, Mind of My Mind followed the saga into the next generation, as did the third book in the series, Survivor
in 1978. The series sold well, but the people at Doubleday were still leery of publishing science fiction that
attempted to bring in both African-American and female audiences, groups that had notoriously stayed away
from the genre. Hence, Butler interrupted her work on the series to write a very different story.
Deleved Into History With Kindred:
Motivated by considerations of what previous generations of black people--especially women--had experienced,
Butler wrote Kindred, a novel in which a present-day black woman, Dana, travels back in time to Maryland
during the time of slavery. There she confronts a white ancestor whom she must rescue repeatedly in order to
preserve her own future. Writing Kindred helped Butler exorcise some of her feelings about generational
distrust. "If my mother hadn't put up with those humiliations, I wouldn't have eaten very well or lived very
comfortably," she reflected to Publishers Weekly. "So I wanted to write a novel that would make others feel the
history: the pain and fear that black people had to live through in order to survive."
In the March/April 1986 issue of Black Scholar, Butler discussed the trouble she had placing Kindred because
it didn't fit into any preconceived literary category. "I sent it off to a number of different publishers because it
obviously was not science fiction. There's absolutely no science in it. It was the kind of fantasy that nobody had
really thought of as fantasy because after all, it doesn't fall into the sword and sorcery or pseudo-medieval
fantasy that everyone expects with lots of magic being practiced." Eventually Doubleday published the novel in
1979, but as fiction rather than science fiction.
Kindred met considerable praise upon its arrival, and has continued to generate discussion. "Probably no
contemporary African-American novelist has so successfully exercised the imagination of her readers with
acute representations of familial and historical relations as has Octavia Butler," surmised Ashraf H. A. Rushdy
in College English, "and nowhere more so than in ... Kindred. "
Won Hugo Award:
Coming off the success of Kindred, Doubleday published Wild Seed in 1980, the fourth book in the
Patternmaster series. St. Martin's Press took over the series in 1984 and published the fifth book, Clay's Ark.
By that time, Butler's work had begun to receive more serious recognition from her peers. She won a Hugo
Award from the World Science Fiction Society in 1984, for the short story "Speech Sounds"; her short novel
Bloodchild, which explored issues of power surrounding childbirth, won the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus awards
the following year. Her novella The Evening and the Morning and the Night was nominated for a 1987 Nebula
award as well.
In the late 1980s Butler embarked on a new series of novels, the Xenogenesis Trilogy, which began in 1987
with Dawn: Xenogenesis. The series depicts the plight of human beings who must choose between certain
death or hybridization with a race of rational, compassionate space-faring creatures. Both the characters and the
reader are forced to question what it means to be human, and to what lengths human beings might go to
preserve their species.
As Eric White wrote in his analysis of the series for Science-Fiction Studies, despite the initial horror induced in
the human survivors by the alien beings--known as Oankali--who want to mate with them, "the loss of human
specificity entailed in hybridization with the irreducibly other is, in the last analysis, depicted affirmatively." The
next two books in the Xenogenesis Trilogy, Adulthood Rites and Imago, were published in 1988 and 1989,
respectively. "The Xenogenesis books," wrote Sutton in the LA Weekly, "are weighted with the horror and
rebellion of what are in effect an enslaved people: change is no cheap date."
Found New Direction:
As Butler attempted to leave behind the Xenogenesis books and move in a new direction, she experienced
what she alternately described to Lisa See of Publishers Weekly, as a "literary metamorphosis" and "literary
menopause." Taking a new direction wasn't as easy as she expected: "I knew that I wanted my next book to be
about a woman who starts a religion, but everything I wrote seemed like garbage.... I also had this deep-seated
feeling that wanting power, seeking power, was evil." She finally resorted to expressing her ideas in poetry,
which became the expressive medium of her next novel's protagonist. "I'm the kind of person who looks for a
complex way to say something," she told See. "Poetry simplifies it." This simplification helped her to conceive
Parable of the Sower.
In Parable of the Sower, half-black, half-Latina protagonist Lauren Oya Olamina escapes the walled city of the
middle class to venture into the unknown "outside," where she ends up leading an attempt to build a new
human community. Sprinkled throughout the text are quotations from Lauren's poems, called "Earthseed: The
Books of the Living." L.A. Weekly's Terri Sutton called the novel "the plainer sister to Butler's elaborate,
luminous Xenogenesis series," a tale in which change becomes, simply, God. As Butler herself put it to See,
"One of the first poems I wrote sounded like a nursery rhyme. It begins: 'God is power,'and goes on to: 'God is
malleable.' This concept gave me what I needed."
Shortly after publishing Parable of the Sower Butler received perhaps one of the most lucrative honors of her
career when she was named a recipient of a Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award. The award,
given to the brightest and most promising African Americans in their field, allows the recipient to pursue new
and ground-breaking activities without worry of financial backing. When Butler received the fellowship in 1995,
she was presented with a prize of $295,000 which would be paid out over five years. When asked what she
would do with the money by Jet magazine, Butler said that she would continue to write new and genre breaking
science fiction in order to reach a wider variety of readers interested in the genre, especially those readers of
the African-American community.
True to her word, Butler continued to write significant science fiction which commented on social issues. In a
follow-up to Parable of the Sower, Butler produced the critically acclaimed Parable of the Talents in 1998, which
traced the path of Lauren Olamina as she attempted to reconcile her world by starting a community called
Acorn. Much like Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents is more a study of the character of human beings
instead of an action or sci-fi genre novel. Butler said to Poets & Writers Magazine that she felt the need to
continue to write about the future world she had created in Parable of the Sower because "I examined a lot of
the problems in Parable of the Sower, and now I'd like to consider some of the solutions. Not propose solutions,
you understand--what I want to do is look at some of the solutions that human beings can come up with when
they're feeling uncertain and frightened."
Collected Works Published:
In 1995 Butler's early work was compiled for the first time in a book called Bloodchild: And Other Stories. The
collected work included her Hugo and Nebula award winning story "Bloodchild," as well as "The Evening of
Morning Sounds," "Near of Kin," "Speech Sounds," and "Crossover." Also included were insights from Butler
herself, including an afterword to each short story and two essays, "Positive Obsessions" and "Furor
Scribendi," which talk about the habit of writing and overcoming personal challenges, including racism and
poverty, to achieve a goal. According to Publishers Weekly, this book was one of the first instances where the
reading public was able to "clarify what excites and motivates this exceptionally talented writer."
However, Butler has always been very open about what types of themes and issues her writing deals with. "I
don't write utopian science fiction because I don't believe that imperfect humans can form a perfect society," Butler
confessed in Black Scholar. "Nobody is perfect," she insisted to Vibe. "One of the things I've discovered even
with teachers using my books is that people tend to look for 'good guys' and 'bad guys,' which always annoys the
hell out of me. I'd be bored to death writing that way. But because that's the only pattern they have, they try to fit my
work into it."
Most importantly, she tried, in her later writings, including the Parable tales, to explore issues of nation
building and community building without some of the fantastic ingredients she and other science fiction writers
had relied upon in the past. She asserted to Vibe, "Part of what I wanted to do in the new book was to begin a new
society that might actually get somewhere, even though nobody has any special abilities, no aliens intervene, and no
supernatural beings intervene. The people just have to do it themselves." Sutton seconded this in LA Weekly: "In
Butler's bible, the meek don't inherit the earth: they refuse both the earth and the idea of meekness."
Though much of Butler's work confronts the sort of bedrock difficulties of co-existence that many of her fellow
science fiction authors tend to avoid, Butler has repeatedly emphasized that she finds the genre intensely
liberating. When asked by Black Scholar what drew her to the form, she replied "The freedom of it; it's
potentially the freest genre in existence."
Selected: Hugo Award for "Speech Sounds," 1984; Nebula, Hugo, and Locus awards for Bloodchild, 1985;
Nebula Award nomination for The Evening and the Morning and the Night, 1987; MacArthur Foundation
Fellowship Award recipient, 1995.
|Robert Maynard, Publication Entrepreneur
Americans in journalism.
Quote by Robert Maynard: "Human rights rest on human dignity. The dignity of
man is an ideal worth fighting for and worth dying for."
After serving as the first black editor-in-chief of a major newspaper, The
Oakland Tribune, Maynard eventually purchased the publication to save it from
bankruptcy in 1983. That purchase made Maynard the first Black African-
American in the United States to own a metropolitan daily newspaper.
With a thirst for journalism a very young age, Maynard would skip school in
order to hang out with editors from the local black newspaper, The New York
Age. He would connect with writers like James Baldwin and Langston Hughes
During the times of limited opportunities for Black journalists, Maynard began working with a local white
newspaper. Of course, this posed a challenge for him, giving little to no results and a glass ceiling for
challenging topics. With higher education as his next step, Maynard graduated from Harvard University, which
landed him the job as national correspondent for the Washington Post. This was the first time any Black person
held this position. Maynard was now in a position to write freely on urban issues important to Black America.
President Gerald Ford and Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter. Recognizing the importance of
reaching back, Maynard founded the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, a
program for the training of minority journalists. He would continue to use his
prominent position to help fill more newspapers with minority journalists nationwide.
in the United States to own a major daily newspaper. But Maynard had a career full of
firsts, from being the first black national newspaper correspondent to being the first
black newspaper editor in chief.
The son of immigrants from Barbados, Maynard grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New
York. Interested in writing from an early age, Maynard frequently cut classes at Boys High School in Brooklyn
to hang around the editorial offices of the black weekly newspaper the New York Age. By the age of sixteen he
had dropped out of school to work full-time as a reporter for the New York Age. In 1956 he moved to
Greenwich Village, where he wrote freelance articles and met writers such as James Baldwin and Langston
Applying for jobs on White-owned newspapers brought no results, and it was 1961
before he found a job on a mainstream paper. Maynard began as a police and urban -
affairs reporter for the York (Pa.) Gazette and Daily. In 1965 Maynard applied for a
Niemann Fellowship and won, spending 1966 at Harvard University studying
economics, art, and music history. After Harvard, he returned to the York Gazette and
Daily as night city editor.
In 1967 Maynard was hired by the Washington Post as national correspondent, the first
Black to hold that position on any major newspaper. He was widely praised for his 1967
series on urban Blacks. In 1972 he was appointed as ombudsman and associate editor
In 1976 he was chosen to be one of three questioners for the final debate between Jimmy Carter and President
In 1977 Maynard left the Washington Post and moved to the University of California, Berkeley, to found the
Institute for Journalism Education, a program for the training of minority journalists. In 1979 he was hired by
the mammoth newspaper publisher Gannett as editor of its newly acquired but struggling Oakland Tribune.
When he became editor of the paper, which was renamed simply the Tribune, circulation was at 170,000. By
1982 circulation had plummeted to 110,000, and the paper lost $5 million in 1981.
In response to the declining readership, Maynard started a morning edition,
which was named Eastbay Today. Although the morning edition drew only 90,000
readers, in the fall of 1982 Maynard announced the end of the afternoon Tribune.
The afternoon paper was merged with Eastbay Today into a morning Tribune, a
move that was a prelude to Maynard's purchase of the paper in 1983 from the
Gannett Company for $22 million.
Leadership and Illness
By 1985 the paper's circulation had increased to more than 150,000, but expenses still outpaced revenues.
Maynard was forced to sell real estate holdings to meet expenses. Despite the losses the Tribune and
Maynard's leadership garnered much praise and many awards for editorial excellence. In 1992 Maynard was
diagnosed with prostate cancer and was forced to sell the Tribune. He died on 17 August 1993, an important
figure in American journalism and a pathfinder for black journalists.
Born Robert Clyve Maynard, June 17, 1937, in Brooklyn, NY; died of cancer, August 17, 1993, in Oakland,
CA; son of Barbadian immigrants Samuel C. and Robertine Isola (Greaves) Maynard; married second wife,
Nancy Hicks (a journalist), January 1, 1975; children: (first marriage) Dori; (second marriage) David, Alex.
Education: Attended Harvard University on a Nieman fellowship, 1965-66.
Reporter for black weeklies New York Age-Defender and Baltimore Afro-American;
York Gazette and Daily, York, PA, reporter, 1961-66;
Washington Post, Washington, DC, national correspondent, 1967-72, associate editor and ombudsman, 1972-
74, editorial writer, 1974-77;
Institute for Journalism Education (renamed Robert Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, 1993), co-
founder, 1977, chairman, 1977-79, faculty member through 1993;
affirmative action consultant to Gannett newspaper chain, late 1970s;
Oakland Tribune, Oakland, CA, editor in chief, 1979-83, publisher and owner 1983-92. Syndicated columnist,
Regular contributor to This Week with David Brinkley and other television news shows.
Member of board of directors, Associated Press and Pulitzer Prize committees.
The late Robert Maynard was a dynamic figure in American journalism
throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The first African American to own a major
metropolitan daily newspaper, Maynard was publisher of the struggling Oakland
Tribune from 1983 until 1992. Through that newspaper and the Institute for
Journalism Education, which he co-founded in 1976, Maynard became
instrumental in training and placing minority journalists in important positions
nationwide. San Francisco Chronicle editor Paula Marie Parker wrote: "Bob
used [his] wondrous voice, a razor-sharp intellect and his optimism to challenge
journalists of color and recalcitrant newspaper
people and letting them rise to the height of their abilities. For journalists of color, that meant honing your skills and
prodding your editors for better coverage of communities predominated by people of color." In the San Francisco
Examiner, Roger Rapoport called Maynard a "reigning symbol of hope and diversity."
Upon his death in 1993, Maynard's colleagues and competitors alike praised him as a visionary who
transformed his chosen field--newspaper journalism--on both a local and national level. Maynard never forgot
the difficulties he faced trying to find a job in the newspaper business in the early 1960s. Having finally
established himself in a field that is still dominated by white males, he went on to promote the careers of other
journalists, editors, and photographers.
During his ownership of the Oakland Tribune, that paper was distinguished by its relatively large number of
minority reporters and its aggressive coverage of minority issues. San Francisco Chronicle executive editor
William German described Maynard as "an example of what should be achieved in journalism," a man who "ran
a fine newspaper in a principled manner that was completely true to himself."
Cultural diversity in newsrooms was unheard-of when Robert Maynard was born. Whites--mostly men--ran the
major metropolitan dailies. Minority journalists worked for newspapers such as the Baltimore Afro-American,
which catered to a black readership. From the beginning, Maynard seemed an unlikely candidate for a position
as a reporter. The son of Barbadian immigrants, he was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in the tough
Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. He became fascinated with journalism at the age of eight, when he wrote an
essay about a new wave of immigration taking place in his neighborhood. But Maynard was rebellious from his
earliest years; school could not contain his energies. He dropped out of high school at sixteen with what he
called "an insatiable desire to know about America and the world," to quote the Sacramento Bee.
Even before leaving high school, though, the naturally gifted Maynard began contributing pieces to the New
York Age- Defender, one of America's oldest black newspapers. He continued to work for the Age-Defender
through the rest of his teen years from a base in Greenwich Village. Maynard often recalled that he mailed over
300 resumes to newspapers in quest of an entry-level reporting job. The application process, fraught with
frustration as it was, imbued him with a deep sense that people of color should be better represented on the
nation's newspaper staffs.
Maynard finally got a break in 1961 when he was hired as the police reporter at the York Gazette and Daily in
York, Pennsylvania. (York, with a population of 30,000, is located about 60 miles west of Philadelphia.) Elated
over landing a job in the news field, Maynard worked hard in the predominantly white community of York, and
in 1965 won a Nieman fellowship to Harvard University. The Nieman fellowship--a program of one to two years'
duration--is one of journalism's most prestigious awards.
As a Nieman fellow, Maynard became acquainted with some of the major figures in modern American
journalism. One such executive who spoke at Harvard was Ben Bradlee, editor in chief at the Washington Post.
Newsweek correspondent Ellis Cose noted that Maynard "picked a fight with Bradlee" at Harvard, probably
regarding the Post's dismal program of minority hiring. Whatever the cause of the argument, Bradlee was
impressed by Maynard's determination. When Maynard's Nieman fellowship drew to a close, he was hired at
the Washington Post. There, according to Cose, he "instantly became a star reporter."
Maynard's assignments at the Post included some of the biggest stories of the era, including the Watergate
scandal--a "cover- up" of illegal activity by then-President Richard M. Nixon and his staff in connection with the
1972 burglary of Democratic party offices by the president's campaign committee--and Nixon's subsequent
resignation, as well as other stories of national importance. As the 1970s progressed, Maynard was promoted
several times, becoming an associate editor, ombudsman, and columnist. But he had not forgotten his
commitment to increasing minority representation on newspapers. While at the Post, he taught occasional
journalism classes at Columbia University and was active in a minority recruitment program there. In 1976, he
and his second wife, Nancy Hicks, became part of a group that founded the California-based Institute for
Journalism Education, a program dedicated to preparing qualified minority candidates for high- level journalism
Maynard originally took a leave of absence from the Washington Post to help establish the Institute for
Journalism Education. By 1977 he made the split from Washington permanent and moved with his wife to
California. Neither of them foresaw the new directions their careers would take on the West Coast.
In 1979, the Gannett Corporation asked Maynard to assume the duties of editor in chief at the Oakland
Tribune. The Tribune was a historic metropolitan daily that had long been an important voice for conservative
politics and the Republican platform in California. Gannett had only recently acquired the newspaper from its
longtime owners, the Knowland family, and the paper was struggling financially. Maynard assumed the editor in
chief position and brought a whole new mission with him. He hired numerous minority reporters--including the
country's first Asian American columnist and the country's first openly gay columnist--and intensified coverage
of Oakland's minority communities.
Roger Rapoport wrote in the San Francisco Examiner that after Maynard became editor of the Tribune, "the
paper [became] a stimulating place to work, shaking off the dust of the Knowland era. [Maynard] filled the
[Tribune] Tower with talented editors and reporters recruited from all over the nation. Many defected from
larger papers like the Washington Post, and some even agreed to take a pay cut to join the Tribune. He also
delivered on his promise to turn the newsroom into a melting pot, one that more closely reflected the
community it covered."
in Oakland. Federal Communications Commission rules required that the
company sell the newspaper first, so Gannett began to solicit purchase
offers for the Tribune. Maynard made a bold move: he offered to buy the
newspaper himself. The transaction was completed in 1983, and Maynard
became the first African American to own a metropolitan daily newspaper
with a circulation in excess of 100,000. Even more important to Maynard,
though, was the fact that he had orchestrated the first management-
leveraged buyout of an American newspaper, purchasing the Tribune
entirely with loans from Gannett and local banks.
$22 million transaction looked like the deal of a lifetime. Maynard did not put a penny of his own down. The
money was all borrowed, $17 million from Gannett itself and $5 million from banks. But it soon became clear
that in taking over the Tribune, Maynard had shouldered back-breaking problems.... As the Trib racked up
dozens of awards in every major [editorial] category, culminating in a 1990 Pulitzer Prize for its photographic
coverage of the 1989 earthquake, the paper's business prospects grew dimmer.... It seemed the paper could no
longer compete in the Bay Area media market."
The 1980s were unquestionably among the hardest years in the history of print journalism. Numerous daily
newspapers closed or merged with competitors. Staffs were trimmed and budgets were cut almost everywhere
as the medium struggled to compete with television and new conglomerates like USA Today in a period of
economic decline. The Oakland Tribune was beset by falling circulation and declining advertising revenues
when Maynard bought it. The trend continued throughout his tenure of ownership, forcing the newspaper into
deep debt and leading to layoffs and givebacks from the unionized work force.
The newspaper's misfortunes were mirrored by the economy in the rest of Oakland--a devastating earthquake
in 1989 and a fire storm the following year brought urban renewal to a halt and sent residents and businesses
scurrying to other regions. Under those circumstances, Rapoport and others have maintained that it is amazing
that the Tribune survived as long as it did.
wife, who assisted him in most business decisions were able to keep
the Tribune afloat with help from the Freedom Forum in the form of
$5 million in cash, loan guarantees worth an additional $4 million,
and aid in settling the original debt to the Gannett Corporation,
which had swelled with interest to $31.5 million. The influx of funds
from the Freedom Forum only proved to be a temporary solution,
however. By 1992, faced with the paper's insolvency and his own bad
health, Maynard decided to sell the Tribune. The newspaper's name
and circulation records were purchased in 1992 for an undisclosed
amount by William Dean Singleton, owner of several suburban
dailies in the Bay Area. Most of the Tribune staff was not hired by
Singleton, but the paper did continue the multicultural editorial
Maynard told the Fresno Bee:
"Taking a paper that everybody always said was going to die the next day and reorganizing and restructuring it in
such a way that it could be sold and go on ... the fact that we don't get to continue to own it is far less important than
the fact that it will continue to exist."
San Francisco Examiner reporters Gregory Lewis and Carla Marinucci characterized the Maynard ownership of
the Tribune as "a journalistic landmark, undone by an inability to negotiate some tough economic factors, many
outside their control.... Maynard is still lauded for his bold move to save the paper in the first place--and
establish a landmark in black-owned publishing."
Ill health was a major factor in Maynard's decision to expedite the sale of the Oakland Tribune. He had been
treated for cancer in the late 1980s and faced a recurrence of it in 1992. Even his declining health did not deter
him from a full schedule, however. He continued his long association with the Institute for Journalism
Education, wrote his syndicated column regularly, and appeared on television news shows such as This Week
with David Brinkley. He died at his home in Oakland on August 17, 1993, and was given memorial services in
both California and Washington, D.C. In one eulogy, his former Washington Post associate Carl Bernstein
called Maynard "a wonderful colleague ... one of those who really believed that journalism was a higher calling."
In his last public address in May of 1993, Maynard told students at the Freedom Forum in Arlington, Virginia,
that his mission was to create new opportunities for a variety of Americans to voice their opinions and
concerns. "This country cannot be the country we want it to be if its story is told by only one group of citizens," he
concluded, as quoted in the Sacramento Bee. "Our goal is to give front-door access to the truth."
|Barack Hussein Obama II, President of the United States of America
|Stanley Ann Dunham
Mother of Barack Obama born in 1942, died in 1995.
Born Stanley Ann Dunham, she was an American anthropologist who
specialized in economic anthropology and rural development. She earned her
Ph.D from the University of Hawaii and worked with the United States Agency for International
Development, the Ford Foundation, and Women's World Banking, championing microcredit for the
world’s poor. Obama referred to his mother as the dominant figure in his
formative years. "The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics
|Front row (left to right): Auma Obama (Barack's half-sister),
Kezia Obama (Barack's stepmother),
Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama (third wife of Barack's paternal grandfather),
Zeituni Onyango (Barack's aunt)
Back row (left to right): Sayid Obama (Barack's uncle),
Barack Obama, Abongo [Roy] Obama (Barack's half-brother),
unidentified woman, Bernard Obama (Barack's half-brother), Abo Obama (Barack's half-brother).
| Obama (right) with his father in Hawaii. ca. 1971
|Larry Doby, Sports
|Donna Brazile, Political Analyst & Vice Chair of the DNC
|Erma Henderson, 1st Black City Councilwoman
|DeFord Bailey, Musician
Player of all time; his nickname was the “Harmonica Wizard.” He had Polio and
suffered with paralysis but was the first Black African American to perform at the
Grand Ole Opry. He was finally celebrated 7 years before his death.
mother died when he was a little more than a year old, and his father's sister and
her husband reared DeFord. Stricken with infantile paralysis at the age of three
years, the bedridden child was given a harmonica as a means of amusement.
Bailey overcame polio, although he had a deformed back and never grew taller
than four feet, ten inches. However, his skill with the harmonica and his musical
talent gained Bailey renown in the field of country music.
located near the railroad, where Bailey composed many of his tunes on the harmonica. He had to go under a
train trestle on the way to school, and Bailey said he would wait for the train to go over; then "I would get under
it, put my hands over my eyes, listen to the sound, and then play that sound all the way to school." Bailey
became famous for recreating the sounds of rushing locomotives. During teenage years, Bailey worked for a
white storekeeper in Thompson's Station and played the harmonica, to the delight of the customers and the
proprietor. He remained with the storekeeper for some time before joining his family in Nashville, where he
held several jobs. He continued to play the harmonica.
On December 6, 1925, DeFord won second place with his rendition of "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More" in a
French harp contest on radio station WDAD. Soon after, Bailey made his first appearance on WSM Radio, after
overcoming some racial opposition from the station's director. The young black performer was given the title
Bailey played a role in the naming of the "Grand Ole Opry." In 1926, the WSM Barn Dance followed an hour of
symphonic music, and one evening its programming concluded with a selection by a young composer from Iowa
reproducing the sound of a train. Bailey opened the country music program with his rendition of "Pan American
Blues." The difference in the musical genres caused the director, George D. "Judge" Hay, to observe, "For
the past hour we have been listening to music taken largely from grand opera; from now on we will present 'The
Grand Ole Opry.'"
Bailey toured with other stars of the Opry, including Roy Acuff, Uncle Dave Macon, Bill Monroe, and others.
During his travels throughout the South in the 1930s, he was well received by the country music public,
although racial segregation laws caused Bailey problems in hotels and restaurants. To get a hotel room, on
some occasions either he posed as a baggage boy for the white performers or pretended to be Uncle Dave
In April of 1927, Bailey teamed with the black Golden Echo Quartet to make his first recordings of "Pan
American Express" and "Hesitation" for Columbia Records in Atlanta. The Columbia recordings were never
released. Two weeks later he recorded eight titles for Brunswick label in New York. On October 2, 1928,
DeFord recorded for Victor records during a Nashville session. "Ice Water Blues/Davidson County Blues"
became so popular that the Victor label released it three times.
Bailey's popularity peaked and waned within fifteen years. During the height of his popularity, he was allowed a
twenty-five-minute performance on the three-hour Opry show. By 1941, he was off the Opry and beginning a
thirty-year career of shining shoes at his shop on Twelfth Avenue, South. Apparently, WSM dropped Bailey
because of his limited repertoire and his failure to convert to new tunes and written music. Bailey denied that
he refused to learn new tunes; he claimed that the audience and the director insisted on hearing the old tunes.
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Bailey's career was remembered. He made an appearance on
a local syndicated blues television show, "Night Train," and in 1965 he made a rare concert appearance at
Vanderbilt University. He appeared on the Opry's oldtimers show in 1974 at the Ryman Auditorium. On
December 14, 1974, Bailey celebrated his 75th birthday by appearing in the new Grand Ole Opry House and
playing several of his old tunes. He played for the homecoming show on April 3, 1982.
DeFord Bailey died at the age of 82 on July 2, 1982. On June 23, 1983, the country music industry celebrated
DeFord Bailey as the first African-American star of the Grand Ole Opry. The mayor unveiled a plaque in
Bailey's honor, and a monument was placed at his grave site in Nashville's Greenwood Cemetery. Bailey's
memorabilia was presented to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The story of Deford Bailey begins with his difficult and eventful childhood and ends at the Grand Ole Opry,
where Bailey was the first African-American performer.
A child of Tennessee, Bailey stood at 4.10” tall after he suffered from polio and infant paralysis. A motherless
child, Bailey was given a harmonica to play with - and he never put it down. Practicing by the train tracks, Bailey
would become known for duplicating the sounds of a locomotive on his harmonica. Fans called him “The
In one live radio performance, Bailey played his piece right after another musician who played opera, giving the
D.J. the idea to call the new mix of genres the Grand Ole Opry. Now touring with Opry performers, Bailey
would make his way through segregated towns, sometimes posing as a baggage handler to get a room.
In his lifetime, Deford Bailey recorded two singles with Columbia Records that were never released, and one
song that was released three times on Victor Records. But like many musicians of the time, Bailey’s dream
came to an end. After reigning in a top spot with the Grand Ole Opry, he was released for creative differences
and spent the next 30 years shining shoes at his shoe shop. Seven years before his death in 1982, he was
celebrated by the Opry in a short performance.
|Alex Burl, my Coach
School and Colorado A&M, now Colorado State University. He went
on to play in the NFL for the Chicago Cardinals.
Manual High School in 1972.
Alex Burl was the first Black athlete in CSU history to win the William & Elwood Nye Award, presented
annually to the institution's most outstanding male athlete. Burl qualified for the 1952 U.S. Olympic trials in
track at age 19. In 1954, the Chicago Cardinals selected him in the NFL draft. Burl later coached football,
cross-country, and track and field for Denver Public Schools. (His grandson, Davis Burl, is a linebacker at
Burl not only played outstanding football at CSU when it was known as Colorado A&M, but he was known more
for his ability on the track than on the football field.
Alex Burl Jr. graduated from Denver Manuel High School in 1950 and attended Colorado A&M College in the
fall of that same year. He played football on the freshman team in the fall of 1950 under coach Julius "Hans"
Wagner before making the varsity squad in 1951 under legendary CSU head football coach Bob Davis. He
played safety on defense and halfback on offense to take advantage of his sprinter speed from 1951 to 1953.
In track, Burl ran under the guidance of coach Vern McHone, who took over for Harry Hughes as track coach
as the 40-year veteran coach/athletic director prepared for retirement. It was in track that Alex Burl became
the greatest of stars at Colorado A&M earning All-American awards three times and setting national records in
sprinting. In 1952, Burl qualified for the Olympic trials in the 100-yard dash and barely missed a spot on the
roster in just his sophomore year at Colorado A&M.
Although Burl continued to excel in football, his ability in the 100-yard and 220-yard dash made him a national
sensation. In 1954, his senior year, Burl finished third in the NCAA meet in those two competitions which again
made him a favorite for the Olympics.
Cardinals, but the US Army wanted him before the NFL could have him play in
the Windy City. Burl served two years in the Army before finally spending
another brief two years with the Cardinals.
Denver West High Schools as a premier coach in both football and track.
interview for a Black History Month feature on Colorado Aggies.com about his
role at Colorado A&M in the early 1950s. When Burl was drafted by the Chicago
Cardinals, he became the first CSU athlete in the NFL. (He played in eight
games in 1956 and scored one touchdown)
athlete at CSU since the 1920s. Burl was the first black athlete to receive the
coveted award, but his story of racial diversity does not end there.
Burl grew up in Denver and admired Colorado A&M athletes Eddie Hanna and George Jones. Although they
were not the first black athletes at Colorado A&M, they did help lead the school to their first bowl game in
1949. Along with Al Dawson, the Aggie-Rams had three black football players on the field at a time when the
school's rivals in Boulder had never allowed black athletes. Burl chose Colorado A&M because the coaches
invited any player to play there and he looked to Jones as a mentor when Burl was a freshman.
In his 2008 interview, Burl mentioned that when he attended Colorado A&M people were generally nice to him
in Fort Collins and on the campus. Just 10 years earlier, John Mosley, the first modern day black athlete in
CSU history, did not receive the same welcome. Unlike Mosley, Burl was allowed to live on the campus in the
old wooden South Hall that so many athletes lived in at the time.
Burl did point out though that he did not escape the racism of the 1950s while he was at Colorado A&M.
The 1951 football season was the first year in which a black student-athlete could stay in a Utah hotel with his
team. He believed that when he went to St. Louis in 1954, he was the first black student-athlete to stay in a
white hotel; ever.
Alex Burl played varsity football from 1951 to 1953 and had some of the school's greatest players in its history
as his teammates. Burl played with Don Burroughs, the Aggie-Rams great quarterback of the early 1950s and
excellent defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams. Burl also played with two CSU All-American football
players. The first was Harvey Achziger and the second was 1955 All-American Gary Glick. In his interview for
the book Aggies to Rams, Glick spoke of what an excellent teammate Alex Burl was. Burl even named one of
his sons after teammate Gary Glick.
Alex Burl's great athletic ability earned him a spot in the CSU Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. He joined Glick and
Burroughs in the school's hall of fame and still ranks as one of the greatest track athletes in school history.
sons Gary, Farley and Gerald all played football and ran track at
Arizona State University. Gary signed a free agent contract with the
Miami Dolphins in 1976.
football team and a year later a second grandson, Davis Burl, signed
to play for the Rams. Davis, son of Gary Burl, played linebacker for
the Rams in the 2009 football season. (Cameron is no longer on the
Davis Burl played football at Grandview High School and is a native of Aurora, Colorado. He joins Larry and Ed
Graves as the only known CSU football players whose grandfather played football for the school. Davis Burl was
thrust into action in 2009 as a red-shirt freshman and will return to the team in 2010 to continue his
The Harry Nye Trophy recognizes an individual’s outstanding contributions to the ISCYRA. The trophy is
named for Harry Nye (1908-1987), who was twice Star world champion (1942 and 1949) and served as
commodore of the Star Class from 1955 to 1963. He also won the Bacardi Cup and the Cup of Cuba three times
each. A graduate of Yale University, Nye was for many years the owner of Murphy & Nye Sailmakers, Chicago,
Hall of Famer for holding the record for the most career knockouts
by any boxer, at 131.
(December 13, 1913 – December 9, 1998), was light heavyweight
world boxing champion between 1952 and 1959 (and again in 1961)
and had one of the longest professional careers in the history of his
A native of Benoit, Mississippi, raised in St. Louis, Mo., died four
days short of his 85th birthday, in his adopted home of San Diego,
He was an important community figure, and became involved in
holds the record for the most career knockouts by any boxer, at 131. He also became a successful character
actor in television and film.
|Archibald Moore, Heavyweight Fighter
|Kevin "The Spider" Young, Olympic Gold Medallist
|Lonnie Johnson, Inventor
our nation’s capitol, but we did not really know who they were. One
of our ancestors responsible for the Statue of Freedom at the top of
the Capitol building is Philip Reid.
in Rome and shipped to Maryland. The federal government had
awarded the Mills foundry a contract to switch the plaster model into
bronze in 1860.
In the midst of the bronzing, the company’s foreman went on strike for higher wages believing he was the only
person that was qualified to finish the job. Clark Mills, owner of the foundry, turned to the slave who had been
working alongside the Foreman and put him in charge of the final casting.
That slave was Philip Reid
Reid, a master craftsman and artisan, was given the responsibility of completing the bronzing job, along with a
team of laborers. He supervised the remaining casting of the statue in five sections, each weighing over a ton.
On December 2, 1863, the Statue of Freedom was hoisted to the top of the U.S. Capitol building.
The slaves on the Freedom project were compensated if they pulled a Sunday shift. In 1861, Reid earned
$41.25 for working 33 Sundays at $1.25 a day.
By the time the statue was raised to the top of the Capitol dome, Philip Reid was a free man, per the
Philip Reid was born a slave in the early 19th century at Charleston, South Carolina. He came to be a master
craftsman and artisan, playing a key role in the completion of the United States Capitol at
The Statue of Freedom, the crowning feature atop the dome of the U.S. Capitol, was hoisted into place on
December 2, 1863. Commissioned in 1855, the full-size plaster model of Freedom was completed by Thomas
Gibson Crawford in 1856 at his studio in Rome, Italy, and finally cast in bronze at the Mills Foundry in
Bladensburg, Maryland, ultimately under Philip Reid's supervision (see bronze sculpture).
Philip Reid was purchased by Joe Ferraro, owner of the foundry that was awarded the contract to cast the
plaster model in bronze. In April, 1858, the model left Rome in six crates aboard the Emily Taylor. Finally
arriving at its Maryland destination, work began in May, 1860. When completed, the five one-ton sections of
Freedom were transported by wagons from Bladensburg to Washington D.C.
Philip Reid and a team of laborers assembled the Statue of Freedom on site at the Capitol grounds in 31 days
during the Spring of 1863. On December 2, 1863, the Statue of Freedom was hoisted to the top of the Capitol
Dome amid great celebration and a 35-gun salute.
Approximately half of the artisans working on the nation's Capitol building between 1790 and 1863 were slaves,
laboring in the quarries of Virginia, excavating and hauling the stone that would be used in the building's
construction. They hauled lumber, dug trenches, and ultimately placed the cut stone on the walls of the building.
On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act abolishing involuntary servitude in the District of
Columbia. This compensated emancipation put an end to slavery within the capital city, and Philip Reid became
a free man.
|Philip Reid, Craftsman
a close friend of Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists.
hosted every few years at Medgar Evers College since 1986), was a
Medgar Evers College professor and one of the most respected authors of
August, 2004 by Keith Gilyard John Oliver Killens' large, multi-layered,
debut novel, Youngblood, was published in May 1954, the same month that
the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. As
we note the 50th anniversary of that landmark act of jurisprudence,
compelling reasons exist to remember and to celebrate Killens as one of
our most important cultural figures.
of playwright August Wilson, who is approaching the conclusion of a cycle
Similarly, most of Killens's major works connect to a particular era and set of concerns in African American
history. Unfortunately, most of his books are out of print. Great Gittin' Up Morning (1980) explores the
antebellum period through the eyes of a fictionalized Denmark Vesey and his partners in a slave rebellion that
occurred in South Carolina in 1822. (The story is geared primarily toward younger readers, but it packs a punch
comparable to Black Thunder, Arna Bontemps's excellent 1936 novel about the Gabriel Prosser insurrection.)
Killens's last published novel, Great Black Russian, imagines the life of Alexander Pushkin, who was a
contemporary of Vesey on the world scene, but the crucial action and drama in the novel unfold in the decade or
so following Vesey's death. A Man Ain't Nothin' but a Man, spun around the legend of John Henry, examines
the struggle of African Americans--and the working class overall--in the 19th century, post Emancipation era.
Youngblood (1954) is a book about struggle on lira Crow terrain toward black self-determination and economic
justice over the first third of the 20th century. And Then We Heard the Thunder (1963) is easily the best
treatment we have in fiction of the African American military experience during World War II. 'Sippi (1967)
dramatically chronicles developments from the onset of the modern Civil Rights Movement to the dawn of the
Black Power Era. The Cotillion; or One Good Bull Is Half the Herd ((1971) depicts cultural politics in the post-
Malcolm period before 1970. In addition to his novels, Killens wrote numerous short stories, plays and scripts;
he was the first African American to receive solo screenplay credit for a Hollywood movie, the 1959 Odds
Killens articulated African American heroism, particularly within a family or community context, and offered a
set of values he felt was liberating. Black nationalism is always a feature of his work; the community-oriented
activism and armed self defense in some of his portrayals make this clear. But ever present is transformation.
Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and Margaret Walker were literary influences he always acknowledged. His
students included novelists Tina McElroy Ansa, Bebe Moore Campbell, Arthur Flowers, Nikki Giovanni,
Elizabeth Nunez and Terry McMillan. All re call a soft-spoken man who was generous with his time, praise and
humor. He always talked about the need for artists to be politically engaged and responsible--both in their craft
and their broader lives. His own life was a fine example.
In 1950, Killens became the founding chairman of the Harlem Writers Guild, a still-active workshop whose
members have authored hundreds of books and sponsored numerous activities to promote African American
literature. A couple of years later, he and close friend John Henrik Clarke assisted Malcolm X with the
founding of the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
Although Killens remained involved with various political efforts into the 1980s—the FBI kept a file on him for
five decades—he devoted an increasing amount of time to his work as an educator and cultural organizer. He
held appointments at the New School for Social Research, Fisk University, Columbia University, Howard
University, Bronx Community College and Medgar Evers College in his home borough of Brooklyn. He
generally insisted on running a writing workshop for the community in addition to his responsibilities to the
students enrolled on campus.
Despite the great demand upon his time, Killens, naturally gregarious, loved to draw artists and intellectuals
around him for discussions about literature and politics. In conjunction with his teaching appointments, he
directed a series of writers' conferences between 1965 and 1986 that serve as milestones in African American
literary history. That tradition continues with the biennial National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers
College in Brooklyn, which this year presented a tribute and symposium to Killens.
Killens was unwavering in his love for Black people. We should continue to return that love with our
Killens, John O. (1916–1987), novelist, university professor, essayist, screenwriter, and editor. John O. Killens
was born 14 January 1916 in Macon, Georgia, the son of Charles Myles, Sr., and WillieLee (Coleman) Killens.
He married Grace Ward Jones and was the father of two children: Jon Charles and Barbara Ellen Rivera.
Killens's childhood and life experiences destined him to become a vital voice in African American literature. As
a child he listened attentively to his great-grandmother tell outlandish and outrageous tales. He also read
extensively. Killens's educational experiences included attending Edward Waters College, Morris-Brown
College, Atlanta University, Howard University, Robert Law School, Columbia University, and New York
University. After struggling with law school at night and working during the day, Killens emerged as a writer.
His first draft of Youngblood was shared over a storefront in Harlem with seven other young African Americans
who had dreams of becoming writers. They later formed the Harlem Writers Guild, which came to be known and
respected by the African American literary world. Killens died of cancer 27 October 1987 in Brooklyn, New
York. His contributions to the African American literary tradition began with his integrational approach and
became a voice of blackness later with characters like Yoruba and Lumumba in The Cotillion. Killens's concern
with racism, classism, assimilation, and hypocrisy is evident in the body of literature he produced.
As in many protest novels of the time, Killens attacks the institution of racism, oppressive economics, and
other injustices in Youngblood. The novel was published in 1954, a time when the social and civil unrest of a
country dominated print media. Although laws were being passed to end segregation, the South refused to
accept this change, and Killens captures this struggle in the southern black family who is fighting for survival
during these turbulent times. For those readers who possess some romantic view of the South, Youngblood
exposes the cruel realities of African Americans who tried to remain tied to their southern roots and not flee to
the North for better days. The novel, set in Crossroads, Georgia, explores the lives of four characters who
collectively fight against the oppressive educational, social, and economic injustices of a Jim Crow existence.
Killens's voice rang loud and clear on the civil ills of America as demonstrated in his novel, ‘Sippi (1967), which
addresses the struggles African Americans experienced during the 1960s. William H. Wiggins, Jr., in the
Dictionary of Literary Biography states that the title originates from a “civil rights protest joke” in which a
black man informs his white landlord that he will no longer include mister or miss when addressing others,
including the state of Mississippi: “It's just plain Sippi from now on!” In the novel, Killens's realistic approach
to many intimidating acts, such as bombings and shootings, divided critics. His response to this polarized group
was that he wrote the book because he had to tell the story, not because he thought someone would respond as
he had to his great-grandmother's stories.
In The Cotillion, or One Good Bull Is Half the Herd (1971), Killens moves away from his social protest novel and
steps into a community of African Americans to explore its dark sides. This satirical novel attacks the classism
and assimilation that dominated many African American communities. Killens's Lumumba represents that
breed of African Americans who attempt to redefine themselves by separating themselves from their
Eurocentric standards. In contrast to Lumumba's ideology, there exists a community of women who symbolize
the vise-grip Eurocentrism has on the African American. Although most criticism of The Cotillion dealt with the
theme of Afrocentricity versus Eurocentricity, the text also has a strong commentary on African American
Killens's name will forever ring simultaneously with the bells of freedom. Most of his works, including his
nonfiction pieces, are commentaries on social protest and blacks embracing their blackness. His significance to
the literary tradition remains two-fold, to provide a silenced community with a voice and to produce a history
from which a definition of self can evolve.
|John Oliver Killens, Black Arts
American who fought and won a landmark
court battle that allowed African-Americans
to be airline pilots.
first Black pilot hired by a major U.S. airline
was more personal than political. He was
qualified for the job, and he saw no reason
why he should be turned down. Mr. Green
said, “I want to live a life of equality.”
pilot hired by a major passenger airline in
the United States. He was born in El
Dorado, Arkansas. Following a unanimous
from 1965 to 1978.
Air Force Career
Captain Green left the United States Air Force after nine years' service in 1957, having logged 3,071 hours in
multi-engine bombers and cargo planes. His last posting was flying the SA-16 Albatross with the 36th Air
Rescue Squadron at Johnson Air Base in Tokyo, Japan.
He joined Continental in 1965, flying Vickers Viscounts out of Denver, and flew with Continental until 1978,
becoming a Captain in 1966. Green's victory paved the way for minority pilots to be hired by commercial
Green's lengthy court battle with Continental Airlines, which had refused to hire him, upheld Colorado's
nondiscrimination laws but likely kept him from becoming the nation's first black commercial airline pilot. The
first black pilot was David Harris, who flew for American Airlines. But Green was the one who took the airlines
to court and after a six-year battle, which "exhausted his life savings," he won in the U.S. Supreme Court, said
Flint Whitlock, author of a biography of Green, "Turbulence Before Takeoff: The Life and Times of Aviation
Pioneer Marlon DeWitt Green."
As a result of his victory, Green began his Continental career in 1965 and flew for 14 years. Whitlock
described Green as "a personable but non-emotional, by-the-book kind of guy. I think he always felt that people
(in the airlines) were waiting for him to screw up."
Before the Supreme Court ruling, there was no "written agreement" about not hiring minorities, Whitlock said,
"just a gentleman's agreement." The airlines contended that "bigoted white customers would refuse to fly with
a black pilot and said that they wouldn't be able to find hotel rooms for black pilots who had flights to the
southern U.S.," Whitlock said.
Green "got doors slammed in his face all over the place," his ex-wife, Eleanor Green, told The Denver Post in a
2005 interview. So he took his case to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission. The commission ruled in
his favor, but Colorado courts overturned them. After six years of appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court finally found
in Green's favor in 1963.
"He was humbled by the ruling and shed a tear," said his brother James Green of Renton, Wash. "Marlon just
couldn't understand why he as a human being wasn't allowed to pursue whatever he wanted to. It was so hurtful to
him." But Green was willing to fight because "he always thought he could get over or through or around"
stumbling blocks, Whitlock said.
Green was fascinated by planes as a child, James Green said. "As a kid he'd fly paper airplanes and once had a
cardboard instrument panel. No one else in the family could touch it."
Marlon DeWitt Green was born June 6, 1929, in El Dorado, Ark., and graduated from Xavier Preparatory High
School in New Orleans. He at first thought he wanted to be a Catholic priest and enrolled at Epiphany Apostolic
College in Newburgh, N.Y.
He was expelled "for vague reasons," Whitlock said. So he joined the Air Force in the early 1948, when it was
segregated, and was accepted into flight school. He flew until 1957, when the airline companies announced they
would end the ban on hiring minorities as pilots.
Green also faced discrimination in the Air Force, Whitlock said. Marlon Green and Eleanor Green, who is
white, weren't allowed to live on an Air Force base because of Louisiana law, so the Air Force transferred him
to Ohio, Whitlock said.
On leaving the Air Force, Green applied to at least ten U.S. airlines for a pilot's position. He was turned down
by all due to his color.
Finally, Green applied to Denver's Continental Air Lines, leaving blank the place in the form marked "racial
identity" and deliberately failing to send along the two requested photographs. He was summoned for flight
tests. He was the most experienced of the five applicants on flight test, but was not offered the job.
Green filed a complaint under a Colorado anti-discrimination law and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination
Commission ruled in his favor. This decision was then challenged by Continental. While the case was in
process, Green worked as a pilot ferrying VIPs for the Michigan highway department until he resigned in
protest over inadequate bad-weather navigation equipment on state planes. He then went to work cleaning milk
cans in a dairy.
The Denver District Court and subsequently the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against Green, ruling that the
state had "no business trying to impose its laws on carriers in interstate commerce". Green took his case to
the United States Supreme Court, and in April 1963 SCOTUS unanimously overturned the Colorado decision,
ruling: "We hold that the Colorado statute as applied here to prevent discrimination in hiring . . . does not
impose a constitutionally prohibited burden upon interstate commerce."
|Marlon Green, Airline Pilot
first Black African American to have a General Motors franchise and
later, a leading independent Cadillac dealer.
Top car salesman went door-to-door, petitioned for 15 years before
getting his wish.
Motors franchise, more than fifteen years after he began petitioning
Johnson drove change.
The St. Louis native, who started selling cars door to door, then went on to become General Motors' first
African-American franchise owner, helped elect Chicago's first Black mayor and the first African-American
"My dad sold cars door-to-door, out of a briefcase," recalled his son, Donald Johnson of Chicago.
Mr. Johnson was born Feb. 23, 1920, the son of a physician and a homemaker.
He received a B.S. degree in business administration at Lincoln University in 1940 and an M.S. degree in
hospital administration from the University of Chicago in 1960.
He was a hospital administrator in St. Louis in 1954 when he began to sell cars part-time.
Although the owner would not allow aBlack man on the Oldsmobile premises and insisted he only sell to
Blacks, Mr. Johnson was the dealership's top salesman. "He fell in love with it," friend Hermene Hartman said.
Mr. Johnson initially didn't get that love returned from GM.
He would move to another dealership but wanted his own and had to petition the company for 15 years before
getting a franchise. He scored in 1967, helped by civil unrest in the U.S. It was a faltering Oldsmobile operation
at 74th and Halsted that he turned around inside of a year.
"He surrounded himself with good people," his son said, noting that even competitors would offer Mr. Johnson
guidance. "They thought enough of him and his personality and the kind of guy that he was to help him in his
So successful was he that GM handed him a Cadillac dealership in 1971, the auto-maker looking to trade on his
"He wanted to keep it South Shore Cadillac. General Motors at the time said, 'Your name is golden,' " Donald
Johnson said. "He wasn't that kind of guy. He thought keeping it South Shore Cadillac would be the way to go."
But Al Johnson Cadillac grew and Mr. Johnson became an independent dealer the following year.
First big Obama Senate donor:
He moved the business to Tinley Park, helping spur a dealership row along a suburban stretch.
When it came to his job as business consultant with the City of Chicago, Mr. Johnson didn't exactly drive a hard
He worked for Harold Washington's administration for $1 a year.
He founded a coalition that drafted Washington to run for mayor, and then was a major campaign contributor.
"They saw an opportunity where we could bring government to the people," Donald Johnson said.
"He was able to convince other entrepreneurs to put money behind these candidates and other issues," said Cliff
Kelley, a WVON talk radio host.
Mr. Johnson also was the first large donor to Barack Obama's U.S. Senate campaign, contributing $50,000.
"He liked the charismatic approach that Barack had, the humility that Barack had; his character. My dad was real
big on character," Donald Johnson said.
"He was a behind-the-scenes political person," Hartman said, adding that he was an important player in the John
H. Stroger campaigns.
He was a founder of Rainbow-PUSH's predecessor.
He married Marion E. Johnson, his third wife, in 1953.
"He was outgoing and related very well to the people and to his community," she said.
Mr. Johnson was chairman emeritus of the University of Illinois Center for Urban Business, College for
Business Administration; a board member of LaRabida Children's Hospital, a member of the Executives' Club
of Chicago, and the General Motors Black Dealers Advisory Board.
Entrepreneur and philanthropist, Albert W. Johnson of Chicago was the first African American to have a
General Motors franchise and later became a leading independent Cadillac dealer. He has received numerous
recognition awards, including the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame and Man of the Millennium from the
University of Illinois School of Business.
Johnson was born February 23, 1920, in St. Louis, the son of a physician. He received his B.S. degree in
business administration from Lincoln University in 1940 and his M.S. degree in hospital administration from the
University of Chicago in 1960. He became an assistant administrator of a St. Louis teaching hospital in 1945 and
sold automobiles part time. He became known as "the man who sold cars from a briefcase," since African
Americans could not be hired to sell inside a dealership.
His persistence in realizing his dream of being a car dealer paid off in 1967. He became the first African
American given a General Motors franchise, more than fifteen years after he began petitioning General Motors.
He obtained a Cadillac franchise in 1971 and the next year became an independent dealer. He sold his
companies in 1994 and has devoted his time to civic involvement. Not only was Johnson a founder of the PUSH
Foundation and a life member of the NAACP, he has made significant contributions to hospitals, schools,
recreational facilities and charitable organizations across the nation.
Johnson has received an honorary doctorate of law from Mary Holmes College and an Honor of
Entrepreneurial Excellence from Howard University School of Business Administration. Among his many other
affiliations include chairman emeritus of the University of Illinois Center for Urban Business, College for
Business Administration; board member of LaRabida Children's Hospital; member of the Executives Club of
Chicago, Ingalls Memorial Hospital, the Better Business Bureau, Chicago Tourism Council, Bellwood Bank,
and the General Motors Black Dealer Advisory Board.
|Al "Cadillac" Johnson, Entrepreneur & Philanthropist
|Molly Williams, Female Firefighter
|Hiram Rhoades Revels, Republican Congressman
|Augustus Nathaniel Lushington, Veterinarian
|| Home | Life Without Black People | Our Bill of Sale | Black History Month | Black History Facts | Contact Us | Site
America in 1914.
would belong to a group of children that the government referred to as the
Creek Freedman minors - not legally considered African American.
died in prison. Like most children of Indian Territory, she was kept in the care
of a white guardian who was responsible for her money and education. But her
life changed in 1914, as a result of an earlier land treaty from the government.
Back in 1887, the government awarded the Creek minors children 160 acres of
land, which passed to Rector after her parents' deaths. Though her land was
thought to be useless, oil was discovered in its depths in 1914, when she was
just 10 years old.
The headlines would read: “Oil Made Pickaninny Rich – Oklahoma Girl With $15,000 A Month Gets Many
Proposals – Four White Men in Germany Want to Marry the Negro Child That They Might Share Her Fortune.”
Then an issue of the Salt Lake Telegram reported how she and her siblings still lived in poverty. Still, young
Rector kept her fortune to herself and used it to fund her education to Tuskegee University. Little is known
about her life thereafter, except that she purchased a mansion on Twelfth Street in Kansas City, Missouri and
entertained the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Joe Louis and Jack Johnson at lavish parties.
|Sarah Rector, Wealthy Former Slave
Isadore Banks, one of the wealthiest Black landowners in the town of Marion.
Isadore Banks was an amazing Black African American World War I veteran who was finally honored in April
2010 in a long overdue ceremony in Arkansas.
With his bare hands, Isadore Banks helped to not only bring electricity to his entire town in the 1920’s, but he
would unselfishly buy school supplies for Black schools. The strategic businessman started his own cotton gin
business that prevented Black farmers to be infiltrated by white farmers.
Banks was considered a giant at 6’1” and nearly 300 pounds. He was a quiet man who rarely laced up his shoes
partly because his feet were so big. He had a reputation with the ladies as a playboy, with speculation of being
married to more than one woman at the same time. (His heirs include children and grandchildren from those
At 22, Banks left his hometown of Marion to join the Army. As a young Black man in the segregated South, he
had been denied the rights and privileges of his white peers. Yet when his nation called, Banks responded.
His first day in the service was June 15, 1918, in the final months of World War I. Records show his first
payment was $71.30. It appears Banks was sent to Camp Pike, a massive complex near Little Rock where tens
of thousands of soldiers with the 87th Division trained for battle. (Blacks were kept separate from the white
It's not clear from Banks' military records whether he deployed overseas. He received an honorable discharge
on August 2, 1919.
After the war, Banks returned home and put his experience to work. In 1925, he was one of five men who
brought electricity to this tiny Delta town. Working for a utility company out of Memphis, they dug holes with
shovels and lifted the large wooden poles by hand. They strung up the wires and, within four months, Marion
had power. Banks and his co-workers then brought power to nearby communities.
Along the way, Banks began buying land. He farmed cotton and helped form a Black-owned cotton gin business
in the 1940s to prevent white farmers from undermining the profits of black farmers. He also started a trucking
At one time, he owned as many as 1,000 acres in Crittenden County, according to newspaper accounts. Land
deeds show Banks had at least 640 acres in 1947.
By 1954, word was out that people were after him. There were three theories why, stories repeated by
locals to this day:
Banks had beaten up a white man who had courted his oldest daughter, Muriel.
White men had made several offers on his land, but Banks refused to sell.
Banks was involved with a white woman who rented her land to him, and whites were upset.
At one point, Banks fled to the home of John Gammon Jr., a close friend and head of the Negro Division of the
Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation. There, in the country outside Marion, he hid in Gammon's attic.
"The outer world was grim. Racism was the prevailing social code of most whites in the area and most Black
families cautioned their children and tutored them well in the law which would preserve their species," the late
Gammon says in a family oral history.
A mob of whites showed up at the home with dogs, locals say. They failed to find Banks.
Burned 'like a hog'
On June 4, 1954, Banks disappeared. Newspaper accounts said his wife, Alice Banks, told authorities he went
to get money from the bank to pay his workers.
His body was not discovered for days. He was 59, a month away from celebrating his 60th birthday.
"Chain Arkansas Farmer To Tree, Set Him Afire," read the headline of The Chicago Defender, an African-
American newspaper, on June 26, 1954.
"Rumors here state that Banks may have been killed by whites who were anxious to get hold of his property,"
the newspaper said. "
Another theory says that Banks had been involved with several girls, and had incurred the anger of a white man
who was interested in one of them.
A reward of $1,000 was offered by local Blacks for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
His body was found about 50 feet from his parked truck. An empty gasoline container sat next to his charred
remains. Locals say three Black men may have lured Banks to a group of whites.
At 97, Herman Hayes speaks in a voice like molasses, slow and deliberate. He has difficulty hearing. But he
remembers the day Banks was found. How could anyone forget it? Hayes went to the site shortly after the
killing. The ground was scorched near the tree. Banks' killers had used tree limbs as kindling for his corpse.
His Remington shotgun was still inside his truck. "They burned him like a hog," Hayes said.
The body was wrapped in cloth from head to knees. Only his shoes, Hayes said, were identifiable. "It was
beyond human what they did."
Justice being what it was for Black people back then, he said, "There was nothing you could do. ... People were
just afraid. They didn't know what else was going to happen."
Jim Banks, now 67, was 11 when his father was killed. He remembers his uncle came to the house with the
news. "My mother collapsed," he said. "I can't articulate how I felt and what I went through in those days. It was
not just me; it was a community thing. Everybody was just upset and fearful. It was a very frightening situation, as
well as a very sad situation."
Fearing reprisals, Jim Banks and his mother, Willie Lee Banks, soon split town for Illinois. His mother had
always told him that she and his father had married in Las Vegas. He never questioned her. Records from the
time show Isadore Banks was married to a different woman, Alice. Jim Banks doesn't know if his father was
married to Alice and his mother at the same time. He was afraid to visit the site of his father's death for years.
He finally got the nerve to go there in the 1990s. Looking at the tree, "I tried to vision what happened and the
pain he endured."
Lack Of Justice
Julian Fogleman, now 89 and still practicing law, was the city attorney for Marion at the time of Isadore Banks'
killing. His brother John, who was the assistant prosecuting attorney, is dead. "There was some community
discussion about who might've done it, but I never heard any suggestion of any name," Julian Fogleman said. A
coroner's inquiry to develop facts should've been launched into the killing, but "I can't tell you if they did or they
didn't" he said.
Though Julian Fogleman followed his brother as deputy prosecutor in the 1950s, he said he never pursued
Banks' case. How does he feel that a killer was never brought to justice?
"I don't know what I think," said Fogleman, his voice growing agitated. "It hasn't happened, but 'why' I don't
know." He added, "I just don't know."
In 1963, another killing grabbed headlines in Marion. A white woman said she saw Andrew Lee Anderson, a
17-year-old African-American, try to rape her 8-year-old daughter. As word spread of the alleged attack,
Anderson was chased by a mob of white men, including six sheriff's deputies. He was shot in the back of his leg
in a soybean field. He was unarmed. A coroner's jury of 19 white men took just 20 minutes to rule the case
"We don't think the decision was wrong and don't plan to go any further with it," Julian Fogleman, then the
assistant prosecutor, told the Arkansas Gazette.
Arkansas historians consider Crittenden County the most racist in the state. One, Michael Dougan, summed up
the county's history on race relations in a single word: "Awful."
The killings of Isadore Banks and Andrew Lee Anderson are among the 108 priority cases identified by the
Civil Rights Cold Case Initiative. Launched by the FBI in 2006, the investigations are a final push to try to
solve racially motivated crimes from the 1950s and 1960s. The Justice Department last month said it has
closed eight cases and is in the process of closing 18 others, pending notification of family members. Three
cold cases were referred to state prosecution in the last four years.
Banks' killing is still being investigated. "The FBI is taking this case very seriously," said FBI spokesman Chris
But on October 19, 1992, the FBI destroyed the case file. It likely included records, interviews, photographs
and any correspondence between the field office and FBI headquarters.
"It was destroyed according to standard Records Retention and Disposition," Allen said. "This policy is not set by
the FBI, but by the National Archives and Records Administration."
That's another outrage, say Banks' family members.
The Bugler's Call
The celebration honoring Isadore Banks was the first time his daughter Dorothy Williams had ever returned to
Marion. It brought back a flood of emotions. She was 5 when her father was killed. Her mother was one of his
Fearing trouble, Isadore Banks had packed his daughter, her siblings and their mother into a truck and sent
them to St. Louis. "I'll contact you when things calm," he said.
They never heard from him again. About a month later, an aunt sent a photograph of her father's charred
"I never will forget what they did to my daddy -- never as long as I shall live," she said.
The celebration honoring Isadore Banks brought her family together with Jim Banks for the first time in an
awkward reunion of sorts. Jim (Isadore Bank’s son) kept his distance. "To be truthful, I hate to have to relive all
those memories," he said of his father's death.
Yet, everyone united behind the man who was killed five decades earlier.
"Until we know who the culprits were who took dad's life and until we know what happened to our land, it can never
be a complete closure," Jim Banks said.
Army Sgt. Jamin Crawford placed his bugle to his lips. The wind carried the sound of taps through the
cemetery. "This is really special for me," said the African American bugler, “to give the guy the respect he was
The military ceremony didn't bring justice but it did bring pride.
Isadore Banks, a man who represents the injustice of an era, will forever be known by a new moniker: private
in the U.S. Army, veteran of the Great War.
Latching on to the last few months of WWI, he enlisted in the Army and was honorably discharged from Camp
Pike in Arkansas in 1919.
Being rich and Black in the most racist county of Arkansas proved to be an invitation for hate crimes.
In June 1954 - only one year before Rosa Parks was arrested for sitting in the front of the bus - Banks was
chained to a tree, doused in gasoline and set on fire. He was burned beyond recognition. He was one month
from his 60th birthday.
His killing had a profound effect. Many Blacks left and never came back. For those who remained, the message
was clear: If you were black and acquired wealth, you knew your place.
The motivation was said to be his money or possible involvement with white women.
Banks' murder is one of the oldest unsolved mysteries in the judicial system. The fear and pain caused by the
incident caused many Blacks to flee the area. However, folks would visit from miles around to pray at the
scene of the crime.
Amazingly, no one was ever charged with Banks’ murder, but many of the Crittendon County Blacks claim to
know who was responsible. There was also question as to who gained ownership of his nearly 1,000 acres of
land. In 1992, according to procedure, the FBI case file for Banks was destroyed.
The questions linger
Banks was buried in Marion Memorial Cemetery, where a special military ceremony releasing white doves was
held yesterday in his honor. His children and grandchildren wanted to give their relative a formal goodbye.
According to CNN’s Wayne Drash, “A sixth dove, representing Banks, was released by a granddaughter. The
dove soared in the air and joined the flock. All six flew off into the clouds, in the direction of where Banks died on
that hot summer day.”
|Isadore Banks, Landowner
|The original photograph of
Mr. Isadore Banks is not available.
Pictured is the Black African American men taken prisoner during the Elaine Massacre
by U.S. Army troops sent from Camp Pike; 1919.
(Courtesy of the Arkansas History Commission)
|Dorothy Williams - Isadore Bank’s daughter
Stevenage, Hertfordshire is a British Formula One racing driver,
currently racing for the McLaren Mercedes team, and is the
youngest ever Formula One World Champion.
Once he graduated to a go-cart, Hamilton would race in adult level
competitions and win.
When he was only 10 years old, he met champion Formula One driver Ron Dennis and told him that he would
race for him one day on the same team - McLaren-Mercedes and 12 years later, Hamilton achieved his goal.
Hamilton was raised partly by his single mother, then lived with his father and cared for his stepbrother, who
was born with cerebral palsy. His father removed himself from his stable job in computers and worked two
additional jobs to support his son's desire to drive professionally.
Starting out strong, Hamilton began breaking records with Formula One. In 2007, he became the youngest
driver to lead the Grand Prix World Championship and became one of the highest paid drivers. Like any
champion driver, he suffered crashes and injuries along the way - like in 2007, during the European Grand Prix,
when a bad wheel nut sent him to the local medical center with oxygen and an I.V. Nevertheless, once he
recovered, he was back on the track.
British driver Lewis Hamilton, 25, is a racing phenomenon and the world's youngest Formula One racecar
Hamilton once told the press that his heroes are Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and his dad. His
father and stepbrother try to attend every race.
|Lewis Hamilton, Racecar Driver
Leader of the Western States Black Research and Education Center
(WSBREC), the largest privately held collection of African American historical
materials in the world. The collection represents the core holdings of the Mayme
A. Clayton Library Museum and Cultural Center (MCL) located in Culver City,
California. The museum is expected to have a low-key opening in late 2010 as
resources, collected more than 30,000 rare and out-of-print books. The
collection is considered one of the most important for African-American
materials and consists of 3.5 million items on the topic of African-American
culture, according to UCLA Magazine. Her collecting grew from her work as a
librarian, first at the University of Southern California and later at the University
of California, Los Angeles, where she began to build a Black African American
collection. "Ms. Clayton, an avid golfer, traveled for her sport, trolling for rare
Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, from 1773. First published by an American of
African descent, the book was acquired for $600 from a New York dealer in 1973. In 2002 it was appraised at
$30,000," according to the New York Times.
Other items in her collection include movie posters (one featuring Stepin Fetchit), newspaper clippings
regarding actress Dorothy Dandridge, and a letter handwritten by educator Booker T. Washington.
Mayme Agnew was born in Van Buren, Arkansas on August 4, 1923. Her father, Jerry Agnew, Sr. owned and
operated a general store, the only black-owned business in Van Buren. Dr. Clayton’s mother, Mary Knight
Agnew was a homemaker and renowned Southern cook, whose dinner gatherings drew friends from far and
near. She had two siblings, Jerry, Jr. and Sarah Elizabeth (a well-known Southern California educator). Jerry
and Mary consciously chose to expose their children to African Americans of accomplishment. During a 1936
visit to Arkansas by Mary MacLeod Bethune, Dr. Clayton’s parents drove a significant distance to be sure that
their children could hear her speak. Dr. Bethune remained a lifelong inspiration for Dr. Clayton," according to
the MCL website.
She first attended Lincoln University of Missouri before transferring to University of California, Berkeley,
where she received a B.A.
She moved to New York City in her 20s, met Andrew Lee Clayton, and they married in 1946, and then moved
to California to a bungalow in West Adams, California.
She began her career at USC in 1952, until she became a law librarian for UCLA in 1957. In 1969 she helped
establish the university’s African-American Studies Center Library, and began to buy out-of-print works by
authors from the Harlem Renaissance.
She earned an MLS from Goddard College in Vermont, and was awarded a PhD in Humanities from La Sierra
University in 1985.
The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Cultural Center in Los Angeles houses the rare books, photographs, films
|Mayme Clayton, Librarian, and the Founder, President & Spiritual Leader of WSBREC
Berry, there was Fredi Washington.
to pass. In fact, she feels herself to be entirely identified with the Negro group” –
Earl Conrad, “The Chicago Defender.” Quote taken from the book “Brown
Sugar” by Donald Bogle. It reads, “Fair skinned actress Fredi Washington turned
down numerous opportunities to pass for white and become a big movie star.”
spoke perfect English. She was also a career girl on the move.
were sent to an orphanage after the death of their mother. Once the girls left the
orphanage, Isabel returned to the south and Fredi went to New York to live with
a grandmother. She heard of the auditions for the Black play “Shuffle Along.”
After “Shuffle Along” ended, she appeared in another play, “Black Boy” starring Paul Robeson. With good
reviews, she was soon one of Broadway’s most talked about actresses.
Outside the theater, she was constantly pursued by men. At the “Cotton Club” a white multi-millionaire
industrialist pursued her “openly” on a constant basis. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, that had never before been
engaged openly. Fredi rejected his advances, he would go sit off in a corner and stare at her for the remainder
of the evening.
Otto Khan told Fredi, “You look French, I will pay for your dramatic education if you change your name to a
French one.” Fredi replied, “But I want to be what I am, nothing else.” Around this time, Fredi’s sister Isabel
joined her in New York.
Soon, Isabel started dating Black congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. She, Adam, Fredi and Bojangles
would spend time on Powell’s boat. Isabel would eventually marry Powell.
In the late twenties, Fredi appeared in such plays as “Sweet Chariot,” “Run,” “Little Chillun” and short
musical films with Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington.
During the 1930’s, she emerged as one of Black America’s most exciting dramatic actresses. She had strong
roles in such movies as “Emperor Jones,” “One Mile From Heaven” and the original “Imitation Of Life.”
“Imitation Of Life” would be her biggest triumph. Fredi starred as Peola, the light-skinned Black girl who
passes for white in the original version. The film also starred Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers. The
movie became a runaway hit and a box-office success in 1934. This would be Washington’s greatest success
but it almost did her in. In real life, African-Americans assumed Washington really did want to pass for white.
As she sat in a beauty parlor, she overheard a woman claiming that the high-yella Fredi, in real life, was just the
way she appeared in “The Imitation Of Life.” When Fredi confronted her, she shut-up.
One evening, after leaving a theater that had shown the film, Fredi overheard Black patrons saying, “I bet that
Fredi Washington is just like that too.”
The movie would be remade in 1959, starring Lana Turner. Actress Susan Kohner was cast in the role Fredi
originated. The tragic side to Washington’s dilemma was that she never had the opportunities for strong new
roles that might have wiped away the Peola myth.
Washington would retire from showbiz and dedicate her time to Civil Rights; she also headed the “Negro
Source: “Brown Sugar” by Donald Bogle
|Frederika "Fredi" Washington, Actress
|Marshall "Major" Taylor, American Cyclist
home of a wealthy white family that employed his father as a coachman. The
family gave Marshall a bicycle on his birthday and this simple act of kindness
would change his life.
became so good that he was hired to perform bicycle stunts at various functions.
And while riding around town, he always wore a soldier’s uniform, which earned
him the nickname "Major."
moved to Worcester, Mass., with his employer and racing manager Louis
“Birdie” Munger who planned to open a bike shop.
In 1896, Major started racing on the pro circuit and in his first year, he broke two world records of
accomplishment for paced and un-paced 1-mile rides in Indianapolis. However, his feats offended white
sensibilities and he was banned from Indy’s Capital City track and was not allowed to race in Southern states.
The racism would become so intense in some cities, whites would storm the track and try to pull Major off of
his bike when he competed. Major also had ice water thrown at him during races and nails scattered in front of
his wheels and he was often boxed in by other riders, preventing the sprints to the front of the pack. Later that
year, Major finished eighth in a six-day endurance race at Madison Square Garden in New York.
By 1898, Major held seven world records. The following year he won the world 1-mile championship.
In 1900, Major competed in the national championship series and became American sprint champion.
In 1901, Major competed in Europe, which he had long resisted because his Baptist beliefs precluded racing on
Sundays. He went on to beat every European champion and his career was greatly celebrated in France.
During this time, Major was being referred to as the ‘Colored Cyclone.”
In 1902, Major married Daisy V. Morris, she would give birth to a daughter, named Sydney.
In 1907, Major makes a brief comeback after a two-year hiatus.
In 1910, Major retires from racing at age 32, saying he is tired of the racism, however, he managed to sock
away $30,000 in earnings. Over the next two years, Major invested in unsuccessful stock ventures, which left
By 1930, Major was impoverished and estranged from his wife; living at the YMCA. In his spare time, he
would try to sell copies of his self-published 1928 autobiography, “The Fastest Bicycle Rider In The World.”
In his autobiography, he reports actually being tackled on the racetrack by a white rider, who choked him into
unconsciousness but only received a $50 fine as punishment.
In 1932, at 53 years old, Major Taylor died in the charity ward of Cook County Hospital in Chicago and was
buried in an unmarked grave.
In 1948, a group of former pro-bike racers, with money donated by Schwinn Bicycle Co. (owner Frank Schwinn,)
had Taylor’s remains exhumed and reburied in a more prominent part of Mount Glenwood Cemetery in Illinois.
The movie “Tracks of glory” is the true story and life of Marshall "Major" Taylor
|Mary Ellen Pleasant, Civil Rights Activist & Entrepreneur
as the first Black to file a racial discrimination lawsuit in this Country.
Octavia Street is simply remarkable and surprisingly that a Black African
American woman in the 1800's lived in such elegant surroundings.
19, 1814. Pleasant said her rescuer from slavery sent her to New Orleans
at the age of 9. While in New Orleans, Pleasant learned to cook,
experimenting with different seasonings and spices, her dishes became
became a tailor’s assistant. Shortly afterwards, she married James W.
Smith, a wealthy mulatto contractor/merchant. The couple relocated to
Virginia. They soon became immersed in helping slaves to freedom and
guided them to the under-ground railroad. James’ white father had left
died in 1847 and left Mary with land and a fortune of $45,000 in bonds, which she exchanged for gold. By 1848,
Mary was a wealthy Black woman.
She was briefly married to a man named James Pleasant before she decided to relocate to San Francisco (by
boat) on April 7, 1852. Every millionaire in San Francisco congregated on the docks and attempted to bid for
her culinary services because her cooking skills had become legendary. However, Pleasant walked right past
them without uttering a word, instead, investing in a business empire: restaurants, real estate, mining ventures
and boarding houses. Mary also owned a plush facility at 920 Washington Street, which soon became the most
popular place to board and dine in San Francisco.
Mary eventually bought a $100,000 mansion (estimated at $1 million by today’s standard) on Octavia Street
where she entertained the San Francisco elite. She had special built rooms in the home where she could listen
to investors discussing stocks. The next morning, Mary would go and invest in this particular stock. She used
money from these investments to help white abolitionist John Brown end slavery forever. She bought land,
which enabled Brown to house escaped slaves. Brown was eventually hanged and Mary barely escaped with
In 1848, Mary was appalled at how San Francisco trolley car operators discriminated against Blacks, so she
filed the first racial discrimination lawsuit in this country. This case set a precedent. African-Americans
referred to her as “The Black City Hall,” because she was the first powerful person to fight for the civil rights
Mary would recruit a secret business partner, a Scotsman, named Thomas Bell, an official of the ‘Bank Of
California.’ Under his guidance, Mary Ellen Pleasant amassed a fortune estimated at $30 million dollars.
She became the first Black millionaire in U.S. history.
People could not understand or fathom a woman, and a Black woman at that, got what she wanted, not by using
sex but by using her power despite being illiterate.
Mary Ellen Pleasant became the most ‘powerful’ woman, Black or White, in San Francisco and she was the
most talked about woman in 1880’s San Francisco. She walked like a duchess, tall, thin, straight, imperious,
with a graceful, gliding walk. She was driven through the streets of San Francisco in her own specially
constructed carriage, attended by a driver and footman. Eventually, White people became resentful of Mary
Pleasant and tried to scandalize her name in every imaginable way, some accused her of being a voodoo
priestess and a madam. They also accused her of every crime in the book, including murder. During this time,
Mary became low-key and mysterious but her humanitarian efforts were not thwarted. She found homes for
unwanted babies, stormed into dives, and physically rescued attractive young arrivals. Over time, Mary made
bad investments and her fortune dwindled but she was still rich.
Mary Ellen Pleasant died in the home of friends in San Francisco, in 1904. She was 90 years old and left
$300,000 to those who cared for her in her declining years. She’s buried in Napa’s ‘Tulocay Cemetery.’
Sources: Lerone Bennett, Jr. and Susheel Bibbs
New York. In her biography, she stated that on the day she was
born, her father was in the midst of a card game trying to get money
to pay the hospital costs. Her parents divorced while she was still a
toddler. Her mother left later, in order to find work as an actress and
Lena was left in the care of her grandparents.
around the state, which meant that Lena was enrolled in numerous
schools (for a time she also attended schools in Florida, Georgia and
Ohio). Later she returned to Brooklyn. She quit school when she
was 14 and got her first stage job at 16, dancing and later singing at
the famed Cotton Club in Harlem - a renowned theater, which Black
performers played before White audiences.
It was immortalized in The Cotton Club (1984)). She was in good hands at the club, especially when people such
as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington took her under their wings and helped her over the rough spots. Before
long, her talent resulted in her playing before packed houses. If she had never made a movie, her music career
would have been enough to ensure her legendary status in the entertainment industry, but films were icing on
the cake. After she made an appearance on Broadway, Hollywood came calling. At 21 years of age Lena made
her first film, The Duke Is Tops (1938). It would be four more years before she appeared in another, Panama
Hattie (1942), playing a singer in a nightclub. By now Lena had signed with MGM but, unfortunately for her, the
pictures were shot so that her scenes could be cut out when they were shown in the South, since most theaters
in the South refused to show films that portrayed Blacks in anything other than subservient roles to whites, and
most movie studios did not want to take a chance on losing that particular source of revenue. Lena did not want
to appear in those kinds of stereotyped roles (and who could blame her?).
Rogers in the all-Black musical Stormy Weather (1943), which did
extremely well at the box-office.
1943 she appeared in Cabin in the Sky (1943), regarded by many as one of
the finest performances of her career. She played Georgia Brown opposite
Ethel Waters and Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson in the all-Black production.
Rumors were rampant that she and Waters just did not get along well,
although there was never any mention of the source of the alleged friction.
That was not the only feud on that picture, however. Other cast members
sniped at one another and it was a wonder the film was made at all.
Regardless of the hostilities, the movie was released to very good reviews
from the ever tough critics. It went a long way in showing the depth of the
talent that existed among Black performers in Hollywood, especially Lena.
Lena's musical career flourished, but her movie career stagnated. Minor roles in films such as Boogie-Woogie
Dream (1944), Words and Music (1948) and Mantan Messes Up (1946) did little to advance her film career,
due mainly to the ingrained racist attitudes of the time (aven at the height of Lena's musical career, she was
often denied rooms at the very hotels in which she performed, because they would not let Blacks stay there).
After Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956), Lena left films to concentrate on music and the stage. She returned in
1969, as Claire Quintana in Death of a Gunfighter (1969). Nine years later she returned to the screen again in
the all-Black musical The Wiz (1978), where she played Glinda the Good Witch. Although that was her last big-
screen appearance, she stayed busy in television, appearing in "A Century of Women" (1994) and "That's
Entertainment! III" (1994).
cut easily from the film. This was because MGM feared audiences of the
day - especially in the South - would not accept a beautiful Black woman in
romantic, non-menial roles. Many in the business believed that this was
the main reason she lost out on playing the mulatto "Julie" in MGM's
remake of Show Boat (1951). Ironically, the role was played by one of
Lena's close off-screen friends, Ava Gardner, who practiced for it by
singing to Horne's recordings of the songs, and Lena had already appeared
in the "Show Boat" segment of "Till the Clouds Roll By" (1946), in which
she appeared as "Julie" singing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" (which was,
as all her MGM appearances, shot in such a way that it could be easily
edited out of the film). Another irony is that she had been invited by
Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II themselves to play "Julie" in the
1946 Broadway revival of "Show Boat", but had had to refuse because
MGM would not release her from her contract.
Had it not been for the prevailing racial attitudes during the time when Lena was just starting her career, it is
fair to say that it would have been much bigger, and come much sooner, than it was. Even taking those factors
into account, Lena Horne is still one of the most respected, talented and beautiful performers of all time
|Lena Horne, Actress, Dancer, Singer & Civil Rights Activist
|The owner and originator of all information are gathered from various sources and most artists of each photograph are unknown.
All credit belongs to the original author and/or artist.