Today in Black History July 11, 1821 Lucy Terry, creator of the oldest known work of literature by an African American, died. Terry was born around 1730 and stolen from Africa as an infant and sold into slavery in Rhode Island. On August 25, 1746, Native Americans attacked two White families in Deerfield, Massachusetts in an area called “The Bars.” Terry composed a ballad about the attack titled “Bars Fight” which earned her local acclaim. A successful free Black man purchased Terry’s freedom and married her in 1756. A persuasive orator, Terry won a case against false land claims before the Supreme Court of Vermont in the 1790s. She also delivered a three hour address to the Board of Trustees of Williams College to support the admittance of her son to the college. Although unsuccessful, the speech was remembered for its eloquence and skill. Her poem was preserved orally until it was published in 1855. July 11, 1905 29 men met in Fort Erie, Ontario, on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, to form a civil rights organization which became known as the Niagara Movement. The group was led by W. E. B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter. It was named for the mighty current of change the group wanted to effect. The group met for three days and developed a Declaration of Principles which, amongst other things, called for Blacks to be granted manhood suffrage and equal treatment of all American citizens alike. By the end of 1905 there were chapters of the Niagara Movement in 21 states and they had a total membership of 170. The movement continued to meet through 1909 but dwindled in members and significance due to opposition from Booker T. Washington and his supporters and disunity within the organization. In 1911, Du Bois recommended that the remaining members join the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. July 11, 1915 Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, businessman, politician and the first elected African American municipal judge, died. Gibbs was born April 17, 1823 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After the 1849 gold rush, he moved to San Francisco, California where he became a successful retail merchant and a leader of the San Francisco Black community. In 1855, Gibbs founded The Mirror of the Times, the first Black newspaper west of the Mississippi River. In 1858, Gibbs moved to Victoria, British Columbia to escape growing racial prejudice in California and in 1866 became the first Black person elected to the Victoria City Council. In 1870, Gibbs returned to the United States and settled in Little Rock, Arkansas and began to study the law. He passed the bar examination in 1872 and in 1873 was elected Little Rock Police Judge, a position he held until 1875. In 1877, President Rutherford Hayes appointed Gibbs registrar of the Little Rock district land office. President Benjamin Harrison appointed him receiver of public monies in 1889 and President William McKinley appointed him U. S. Consul to Madagascar in 1897. In 1903, Gibbs founded the Capital City Savings Bank which by 1905 had deposits of $100,000. Gibbs’ autobiography, “Shadow and Light: An Autobiography with Reminiscences of the Last and Present Century,” was published in 1902. July 11, 1925 Mattiwilda Dobbs, coloratura soprano and one of the first Black singers to enjoy a major international career in opera, was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Dobbs began piano lessons at seven and sang in the church choir. She earned her bachelor’s degree, first in her class, in music and Spanish from Spelman College in 1946 and her Master of Arts degree in Spanish from Columbia University Teachers College. After winning the International Music Competition in 1951, Dobbs made her professional debut. In 1953, she debuted at the La Scala Opera House, the first time a Black artist sang in that opera house. Dobbs made her American debut in 1954 and in 1956 debuted at the Metropolitan Opera House. She was the first Black singer offered a long-term contract by the Met. Dobbs refused to perform for segregated audiences therefore she was unable to perform in her home town of Atlanta until 1962. Dobbs retired from the stage in 1974 and began teaching at the University of Texas where she was the first African American on the faculty. She also taught at Howard University. She received an honorary doctorate degree from Spelman in 1979 and was elected to the board of the Metropolitan Opera in 1989. 1977 Martin Luther King Jr. was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Jimmy Carter. King was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He entered Morehouse College at 15 and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology in 1948. He then earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951 and his Ph. D. from Boston University in 1955. King led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and in 1957 helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, serving as its first president. King was the 1957 recipient of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal. On August 28, 1963, King led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end segregation and discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. King was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. On October 10, 1980, the U. S. Department of Interior designated his boyhood home and several nearby buildings the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King and January 17, 2000 Martin Luther King Day was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time. A memorial to King on the National Mall in Washington, D. C. opened October 16, 2011. “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” was published in 1998. King’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. July 11, 2010 Walter Hawkins, hall of fame gospel music singer, died. Hawkins was born May 18, 1949 in Oakland, California. He began his career as a member of his brother’s chorale, The Edwin Hawkins Singers. They produced “Oh Happy Day” (1967) which was one of the first gospel songs to cross over and become a mainstream hit. Hawkins left The Edwin Hawkins Singers in the early 1970s and founded the Love Center Choir. They produced the “Love Alive” series of recordings which sold well over a million copies from the 1970s through the 1990s. “Love Alive IV” (1990) was number one on the Billboard Gospel Album charts for 33 weeks. Hawkins produced and/or collaborated on 116 songs which were listed on the Billboard Gospel Music charts. He was nominated for nine Grammy awards and won the 1981 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational for “The Lord’s Prayer.” Hawkins was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 2005. July 11, 1875 Rap diva Kimberly Denise Jones better known as Lil Kim was born in Brooklyn, New York. She is known for her hard rapping hits including Money, Power & Respect (with the Lox.) July 11, 1981 Model Carla Campbell born in Jamaica. She is the first model from the Caribbean to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Posted on: Sat, 12 Jul 2014 04:19:59 +0000
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