May 21st – Today in Black History

* Today in Black History – May 21*

1833 – Oberlin College is founded in Ohio “to train teachers and other
Christian leaders for the boundless most desolate fields in the
West.”  After almost going bankrupt in 1835, Oberlin will become
one of the first colleges in the United States to admit African
Americans. Arthur and Lewis Tappan, wealthy New York merchants
and abolitionists, will insist that Oberlin admit students
regardless of their color, as a condition of their financial
support.  As a result of this decision, by 1900, nearly half of
all the African American college graduates in the United States
— 128 to be exact — will be graduated from Oberlin.

1862 – Mary Jane Patterson becomes the first African American woman to
earn an B.A degree from the four-year gentleman’s course at
Oberlin College in Ohio.

1904 – Thomas “Fats” Waller, is born in New York City.  He will become a
celebrated jazz pianist, organist, and composer.  Early in the
1920s, Waller will become the protege of the famous pianist James
P. Johnson and later will accompany such important vocalists as
Florence Mills and Bessie Smith.  His hundreds of recordings,
including some early piano rolls, encompass ragtime, boogie
woogie, dixieland, and swing, although in his hands these styles
are deftly recomposed into a unique Waller sound that will
influence most of the jazz pianists of the following generation.
His appearances on radio and in several motion pictures (notably
“Stormy Weather,” 1943) will bring Waller’s talents to a wide
audience.  A major jazz creator, he will write complete scores
for such all-African-American shows as “Keep Shufflin'” (1928)
and “Hot Chocolates” (1929) as well as many single pieces,
especially the now-classic “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Ain’t
Misbehavin’,” and “Black and Blue.” He will join the ancestors on
December 15, 1943.

1921 – Christopher Perry, who founded the Philadelphia Tribune in 1884,
joins the ancestors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of

1934 – Robert ‘Bob’ Northern is born in Kinston, North Carolina. He will
become a jazz musician, known professionally as “Brother Ah”. His
specialty will be the French horn. He will be raised in the Bronx,
New York City. He will study at the Manhattan School of Music, the
Vienna State Academy in the 1950s and is a graduate of Howard
University. He will be best known as a session musician, working
extensively in the 1950s and 1960s with Donald Byrd, John Coltrane,
Gil Evans, Sun Ra, McCoy Tyner, Roland Kirk and the Jazz Composers
Orchestra. He will also work with Don Cherry, Thelonious Monk,
Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Eric Dolphy, Charlie
Haden, and John Lewis. He will live in New York City from 1963 to
1971, and after a period of increasing interest in non-Western
music, will visit and study in Africa (Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania)
during seven consecutive summers (1972-1977). In the 1970s he will
release several albums as a bandleader. His 1974 release, “Sound
Awareness” will feature Max Roach and M’Boom. These albums will be
reissued on CD on the IKEF Records label in the 2000s. His
classical performances will include the New York Metropolitan Opera
(stage band); the Symphony of the Air; Radio City Music Hall
Orchestra; symphony orchestras in Vienna, Austria, West Germany and
Broadway Theatre orchestras in New York City. In addition to horn
playing, he will also branch into percussion and flute performance
later in his career. He will establish The World Community School
of Music, Inc. in 1992 and offer instrumental and vocal music
classes to students of all ages from “3 to 93”.  As a lecturer and
instructor he will teach at the Levine School of Music, Sewell
Music Conservatory, District of Columbia Public and private schools,
as well as lectures at Howard University, University of the District
of Columbia, University of Maryland, Smithsonian Institution and
the Kennedy Center. He will also teach at Brown University (9 years),
Dartmouth College (3 years), Talledega College, the New York City
Public Schools, and the African Learning Center in Washington, DC
and privately. He will also establish the “World Music Ensemble,”
a group which explores African, Japanese, Spanish, East Indian,
Native American and American musical traditions and “The Sounds of
Awareness Ensemble” which explores the sounds of nature and music.
The World Music Ensemble will release its first compact disc
entitled “Celebration” in 1993. As Brother Ah, he will host a weekly
jazz oriented radio program, “The Jazz Collectors,” on station WPFW
in Washington, DC. His web site is

1941 – Ronald Isley is born in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He will become a singer
and with his brothers O’Kelly, Rudolph and Vernon Isley will form
the group, The Isley Brothers.  They will leave Cincinnati in
1956 and go to New York City to pursue their musical career.
Ronald and his brothers will obtain fame and success nationally
and internationally earning numerous platinum and gold albums
which contain such classic hits as “Shout,” “Twist and Shout,”
“It’s Your Thing,” “Who’s That Lady,” “Fight the Power,” “For the
Love of You,” “Harvest For The World,” “Live It Up,” “Footsteps
in the Dark,” “Work to Do,” “Don’t Say Good Night” and many

1955 – After being introduced to Leonard Chess, by bluesman Muddy Waters,
Chuck Berry goes into a recording session for Chess Records,
performing a restyled version of his song “Ida Red”.  What comes
out of that hot session will be Ida Red’s new name and Chuck
Berry’s first hit, “Maybellene”.  “Maybellene” will top the
Rhythm & Blues charts at #1, and the pop charts at #5.

1961 – Freedom Riders are attacked in Montgomery, Alabama.  The third
city in which the CORE-sponsored group is attacked, the incident
prompts Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to send U.S. marshals
to keep the peace while Governor Patterson of Alabama declares
martial law and dispatches the National Guard to the troubled

1964 – Edler Garnet Hawkins is elected by the 176th General Assembly and
becomes the first African American moderator of the United
Presbyterian Church.  Born in the Bronx, New York on June 13, 1908,
he received his bachelor’s degree in 1935 at Bloomfield College in
Bloomfield, New Jersey and his Bachelor of Divinity degree from
Union Theological Seminary in 1938.  He built his church from
nine African American members to an integrated congregation of
more than 1,000.  He also became the first moderator of the
Presbyterian Church to visit the Roman Catholic Pope. He will
join the ancestors on December 18, 1977.

1969 – Police and National Guardsmen fire on demonstrators at North
Carolina A&T College.  One student is killed and five policemen
are injured.

1970 – The National Guard is mobilized to stop widespread demonstrations
and violence at Ohio State University. The interracial student
demonstrators demand an end to ROTC programs and greater
admissions for African-American students.

1971 – Riots in Chattanooga, Tennessee, result in one death and 400
arrests as National Guard troops are called to put down the
racially motivated disturbances.

1973 – The sensual, “Pillow Talk”, by Sylvia (Sylvia Vanderpool), earns a
gold record.  The artist first recorded with Hot Lips Page for
Columbia Records back in 1950 and was known as Little Sylvia.
She was also half of the singing duo Mickey & Sylvia, who
recorded “Love Is Strange” in 1957.  “Pillow Talk” is her only
solo major hit and will make it to number three on the pop music

1975 – Lowell W. Perry is confirmed as chairman of the Equal Opportunity
Commission (EEOC).

1985 – Marvin Gaye’s last album is released.  “Dream of a Lifetime”
features songs that critics consider too offensive such as the
controversial, pop version of “The Lord’s Prayer”.  Three of the
songs from the album are completed after Gaye’s joins the
ancestors.  Marvin Gaye will be inducted into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame in 1987.

May 20th – Today in Black History

* Today in Black History – May 20*

1743 – Francois-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture is born into
slavery in Haiti.  He will lead the revolution in his
country against French and English forces to free the
slaves.  Although he will nominally rule in the name of
France, he will in actuality become political and
military dictator of the country.  His success in freeing
the slaves in Haiti caused his name to become the biggest
influence in the slave cabins of the Americas.  His name
will be whispered in Brazil, in the Caribbean, and the
United States. He will join the ancestors on April 7, 1803.

1868 – The Republican National Convention, meeting in Chicago,
nominates U.S. Grant for the presidency.  The convention
marks the national debut of African American politicians.
P.B.S. Pinchback of Louisiana and James J. Harris were
delegates to the convention.  Harris will be named to the
committee which informed Grant of his nomination. African
Americans also serve for the first time as presidential
electors.  Robert Meacham will be a presidential elector
in Florida. The South Carolina electoral ticket will
include three African American Republican leaders, B.F.
Randolph, Stephen A. Swails, and Alonzo J. Ransier.

1951 – The New York branch of the NAACP honors Josephine Baker for
her work to combat racism.  Baker, the American chanteuse
who was acclaimed in Europe, had led a personal crusade to
force integration of clubs where she appeared in Miami and
Las Vegas. She also campaigned against segregated railroad
facilities in Chicago and buses in Oakland.

1961 – A mob attacks freedom riders in Montgomery, Alabama.
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy dispatches four hundred
U.S. marshals to Montgomery to keep order in the freedom
rider controversy.

1964 – Buster Mathis defeats Joe Frazier to qualify for the U.S.
Olympic team.

1971 – A Pentagon report states that African Americans constituted
11 per cent of U.S. soldiers in Southeast Asia.  The
report also states that 12.5 per cent of all soldiers
killed in Vietnam since 1961 were African American.

1985 – Larry Holmes retains the heavyweight boxing title of the
International Boxing Federation in Reno, Nevada — by
defeating Carl Wilson in 15 rounds. The fight marks the
first heavyweight title fight in Reno since Jack Johnson
and Jim Jeffries fought there in 1910.

2003 – Howard Sims, tap dancer, joins the ancestors at age 86.  He
was known as “Sandman” and taught Gregory Hines, Ben Vereen
and others.

May 12th in Black History

* Today in Black History – May 12 *

1896 – Juan Morel Campos joins the ancestors in Ponce, Puerto
Rico. He was a musician and composer who was one of the
first to integrate Afro-Caribbean styles and folk rhythms
into the classical European musical model. He was
considered the father of the “danza.”       

1898 – Louisiana adopts a new constitution with a “grandfather
clause” designed to eliminate African American voters.

1902 – Joe Gans (born Joseph Gaines) becomes the first native-
born African American to win a world boxing championship,
when he defeats Frank Erne in one round for the World
Lightweight Crown.  He will be elected to the Boxing Hall
of Fame in 1954.

1910 – The Second NAACP conference opens in New York City.  The
three day conference will create a permanent national
structure for the organization.

1916 – Albert L. Murray is born in Nokomis, Alabama.  He will
become an author of several works of nonfiction, among
them the influential collection of essays, “The Omni
Americans: New Perspectives on Black Experience and
American Culture.” His other works will include “South
to a Very Old Place,” “The Hero and The Blues,” “Train
Whistle Guitar,” “The Spyglass Tree,” “Stomping The
Blues,” “Good Morning Blues,” and “The Blue Devils of
Nada.” He will join the ancestors on August 18, 2013.

1926 – Paulette Poujol-Oriol is born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
She will become a well-known literary personality in
Haiti. She will be best known for her innovative creative
expression.  Her works will include “Prayers for Two
Vanished Angels” and “The Crucible.” She will join the
ancestors on March 12, 2011, after succumbing to a
heart attack.

1926 – Mervyn Malcom Dymally is born in Cedros, Trinidad. He will
become the first African American elected as lieutenant
governor of California and will be elected to Congress in
1980, where he will serve for 12 years. He will join the
ancestors on October 7, 2012.

1929 – Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma is born in Etunda, South
West Africa (now Namibia). He will become a nationalist
politician and the first president of Namibia. He will
remain in exile for thirty years from 1959 to 1989 when he
will return to Namibia and win a seat in the National
Assembly. He will vacate this seat in 1990 when he is
elected the first president of Namibia. He will serve in
this office from March 21, 1990 until March 21, 2005.

1933 – Henry Hugh Proctor joins the ancestors in Brooklyn, New
York at the age of 64. He had been the pastor of Nazarene
Congregational Church for thirteen years. Prior to coming
to New York, he had been pastor of the First Congregational
Church in Atlanta, Georgia for twenty four years, where he
had been instrumental in working with local whites in order
to reduce racial conflicts in the city.

1934 – Elechi Amadi is born in Aluu, Nigeria. He will become a
novelist whose works will illustrate the tradition and
inner feelings of traditional tribal life of his people.
He will be known for his works “The Concubine,” “Sunset
in Biafra: A Civil War Diary,” “The Great Ponds,” “The
Slave,” “Estrangement,” “Isiburu,” “Peppersoup,” “The
Road to Ibadan,” “Dancer of Johannesburg,” and “Ethics
in Nigerian Culture.” His writings will reflect his
upbringing as a member of the Igbo ethnic group in

1951 – Former U.S. Congressman Oscar Stanton DePriest joins the
ancestors at the age of 80 in Chicago, Illinois. He had
been the first African American elected to the U.S.
Congress since Reconstruction and the first-ever African
American congressman from the North.

1955 – Samuel (“Toothpick Sam”) Jones, of the Chicago Cubs,
becomes the first African American to pitch a major
league no-hitter, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1958 – At a summit meeting of national African American leaders,
President Dwight D. Eisenhower is sharply criticized for
a speech which, in effect, urges them to “be patient” in
their demands for full civil and voting rights.

1967 – H. Rap Brown replaces Stokely Carmichael as chairman of
the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

1969 – Kim Victoria Fields (later Freeman) is born in Los Angeles,
California.  She will become an actress as a child,
starring in the sit-com, “The Facts of Life” (1979-1988).  
She will continue her television career on the “Living
Single” show, which will premier in 1993.  

1970 – Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs hits his 500th home run.

1970 – A racially motivated civil disturbance occurs in Augusta,
Georgia. Six African Americans are killed.  Authorities
say five of the victims were shot by police.

1976 – Wynona Carr joins the ancestors. She had been a gospel
singer who was best known for her rendition of “The Ball
Game.” Her other recordings were “Each Day,” “Lord
Jesus,” “Dragnet for Jesus,” “Fifteen Rounds for Jesus,”
“Operator, Operator,” “Should I Ever Love Again,” and
“Our Father.”

1991 – Hampton University students stage a silent protest against
President George Bush’s commencement address to highlight
their opposition to his civil rights policies.

May 4th in Black History

* Today in Black History – May 4       *

1864 – Ulysses S. Grant crosses the Rapidan and begins his duel
with Robert E. Lee.  At the same time Ben Butler’s Army
of the James moves on Lee’s forces. An African American
division in Grant’s army did not play a prominent role
in the Wilderness Campaign, but Ben Butler gave his
African American infantrymen and his eighteen hundred
African American cavalrymen important assignments.
African American troops of the Army of the James were
the first Union Soldiers to take possession of James
River ports (at Wilson’s Wharf Landing, Fort Powhatan
and City Point).

1937 – Melvin Edwards is born in Houston, Texas.  He will become
a sculptor and will have one-man exhibits at the Santa
Barbara Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center in
Minneapolis, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in
New York City.  His work will be represented in private
collections as well as that of the Museum of Modern Art,
the Schomburg Collection of the New York Public Library,
and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.

1942 – Nickolas Ashford is born in Fairfield, South Carolina.  He
will become a songwriter who, with his partner and wife
Valerie Simpson, will write such hits as “Reach out and
Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real
Thing,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”  Becoming a
solo act in 1973, Ashford and Simpson will have a string
of successful albums including “Send It,” “Solid,” and
“Real Love.”  He and wife Valerie will perform at Nelson
Mandela’s 70th birthday celebration in London in 1988,
sing for President Clinton at the 52nd Presidential
Inauguration in 1992, perform at the White House for the
CISAC 39th World Congress, and in April of 1996 they will
be awarded ASCAP’s highest honor: The Founder’s Award, at
the Motown Cafe in New York. He will join the ancestors on
August 22, 2011.

1943 – William Tubman is elected president of Liberia.

1951 – Sigmund Esco Jackson is born in Gary, Indiana.  Better known as
“Jackie,” he will become the oldest of the pop group, “The
Jackson Five” and later “The Jacksons.”

1961 – Thirteen CORE-sponsored Freedom Riders begin a bus trip in
Washington, DC to cities throughout the south, to force
desegregation of terminals. Ten days later, the bus will be
bombed and its passengers attacked by white segregationists
near Anniston, Alabama.

1965 – Willie Mays’ 512th home run breaks Mel Ott’s 511th National
League home run record.

1969 – “No Place to Be Somebody” opens at the Public Theatre in New
York City.  Charles Gordone’s powerful play will earn its
author the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

1985 – The famed Apollo Theatre, once the showcase for the nation’s
top African American performers, reopens after a renovation
that cost $10.4 million.  The landmark building on West
125th Street in New York was the first place The Beatles
wanted to see on their initial visit to the United States.
Ed Sullivan used to frequent the Apollo in search of new
talent for his CBS show.

1990 – The South African government and the African National
Congress conclude historic talks in Cape Town with a joint
statement agreeing on a “common commitment toward the
resolution of the existing climate of violence.”

1999 – Five New York police officers go on trial for the torture
of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. One officer will later
plead guilty; a second officer will be convicted; and three
will be acquitted.

We Can’t Do While Black

I was browsing one of my favorite blogs, VSB(, really expecting to see an article on Baltimore from Panama one of the bloggers. Panama is near Baltimore. When I started reading this blog it was basically 2 bloggers and a guest blogger every blue moon. Now, the blog site has grown to include various blogger guests. But another blogger’s blog got my eye. Pleasantly, I found this article that provoked me to listen to”To Pimp A Butterfly” and share some of the things we Black folks understand to be true. Check out some “can’t do” from the list.

Living And Other Things We Can’t Do While Black


We can’t start listing the names of the people who we know have lost their lives to police brutality without wondering if we forgot any.

We can’t keep up with those names day in and day out.

We can’t listen to some song about being in love or being happy without listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” first.

We can’t let two Black public intellectuals beef without feeling the need to remind everyone that we have more important things to worry about.

We can’t laugh at jokes about the police because no joke about them is funny.

We can’t walk by police without fearing them or hating them.

We can’t live without fear for our ownselves and each other.

We can’t protest in peace because that hasn’t worked.

We can’t riot because that hasn’t worked.

We can’t go to every march.

We can’t do a damn thing, but we also can’t stop trying.

Excerpt from VSB blog by Jozen Cummings who is often referred to by many as the real-life Jozen Cummings. He’s that real. He is a features reporter at the New York Post, where he is responsible for a weekly column called Meet Market. More importantly, he is the author and creator of Until I Get Married, and he hosts a monthly trivia night in Harlem called All Good Questions Trivia at Corner Social. He lives in Harlem, graduated from Howard University, and grew up in Seaside, California.