Black History Month: Day 28

Well it is the last day of Black History Month, but that doesn’t mean the Black History research has to stop.

Dinah Washington was the “Queen of the Blues”. She was born Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as Ruth Lee Jones. Her family was musically talented, but they were poor.

In 1928, Washington and her family moved to Chicago. She began to play piano, and sing in church. As she grew older, she became attracted to Chicago’s nightlife music. She would perform secretly at different local clubs.

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Ruth toured with a quartet called Colored Ladies Quartet in 1940. She struggled financially for three years, and decided to move back to Chicago.

Manager of the Garrick Lounge, Joe Sheridan, convinced Washington to change her name from Ruth Jones to Dinah Washington, because it sounded better for promotional business.

Washington and Sheridan began to perform together. She performed with Lionel Hampton’s orchestra, and with Mercury Records, the label company where she recorded for 16 years.

She released 45 Billboard hits. Some of her songs included: “What a Difference a Day Makes”, “This Bitter Earth”, and “You Got What it Takes”.

Washington used her fame to help launch the careers of others, and make contributions to the civil rights movement.

Washington died in 1963 due to an accidental overdose of pills.

Black History Month: Day 27

Horace Mann Bond was an educator who had a passion for teaching. He served as the first president of Fort Valley State college from 1939 to 1945.

Bond was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1904. He was born to a family who were highly educated. He was three years of age when he began to read. He began his education early, entering high school at the age of nine. He was a college freshman at the age of 14.

Bond began teaching at Langston University in Oklahoma after completing college. He married Julia Washington in 1930. They had three children.

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Bond earned his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1936. He moved to Pennsylvania in 1945, and became the first black president of Lincoln University. He traveled to Africa in 1949 to establish relationships with people.

He helped with the founding of the American Society of African Culture. In 1957 he became a professor at Atlanta University. He stood  for equal education opportunities for black youth.

He was the author of Education for Freedom: A History of Lincoln University, The Education of the Negro in the American Social Order, and The Education of the Negro in Alabama.

Bond died in the year of 1972, at the age of 68.

Black History Month: Day 26

Sidney Bechet was an African American jazz musician. He played along the side of Josephine Baker, and recorded popular tunes such as, “Loveless Love”, and “Dear old Southland”.

Bechet was born in New Orleans, in May of 1897. His ancestry consisted of Creole. His father was a shoemaker. He came from a musical background. Most of his household consisted of musicians.

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Bechet loved the clarinet. One was passed down to him from his older brother. He would consistently practice and play musical genres such as waltzes, and whatever else was popular among the middle class of New Orleans.

One day he was drawn to jazz music. He loved the rhythms and harmonies. He would skip school to sit in local jazz bands. Musician, Bunk Johnson, was drawn to young Bechet’s talent, and invited him to join to his band.

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At 19 years old, Bechet left home to play Jazz with piano player, Clarence Williams, in Chicago. He was invited to join the Southern Syncopated Orchestra in London, England in 1919.

Bechet gained his fame in London. He also desired to learn another instrument. The soprano saxophone is what made him more popular.

In 1945, he moved back to the United States. He formed a band, taught music to young students, and opened a dry cleaning business. Bechet moved back to Paris after his retirement. He died in 1959.

Black History Month: Day 22

Charles Henry Turner was the first African American psychologist. He was also a biologist, an educator, and a zoologist.

Turner was born in Cincinatti, Ohio on February 3, 1867. His father owned a large collection of books, and Turner began to read, and became interested in insects.

He attended Woodward High School, and he then earned his B.S at the University of Cincinatti in 1891. He earned his Masters in biology the following year. Afterwards, he decided to get married and have three children.

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Turner was the first scientist to prove that insects can hear and distinguish different pitches. He also discovered that honeybees can see color, and that roaches can learn by trial and error.

Turner decided to move to St. Louis to teach at Sumner High School until 1922. He published more than 70 research papers during his career.

Turner moved to Chicago to live with his son in 1922. He died on February 14, 1923.

A school for disabled African American children was opened and named after him in St. Louis, two years after his death.

Black History Fact of the Day

Alain Locke was a writer, philosopher, and educator. He was the first black Rhodes Scholar.

Locke was born on September 13, 1885 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Philadelphia Central High in 1902. He graduated from Harvard University in 1907, with degrees in both philosophy and literature.

He was chosen as the first African American Rhodes scholar. He was denied admissions to different colleges due to his race. He was accepted into Hertford College in 1907.

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He promoted African American artists, musicians, and writers. He also encouraged them to find inspiration when producing work.

In March of 1925, Locked was the guest editor of the periodical survey graphic, titled “Harlem, Mecca of the New Negro”. It was special on the Harlem Renaissance, which helped educate whites on its culture.

Locke’s writing focused on the identity of the African American. He published the New Negro in 1925, and it instantly became a classic.

He has been named the Father of the Renaissance, due to his part in the development of the movement.

Locke died on June 9, 1954, in New York. He suffered a heart attack.

Black History Month: Day 19

Norbert Rillieux was an inventor and a chemical engineer. He invented the multiple effect evaporator under vacuum. He contributed to the production of better quality sugar by discovering that latent heat would improve results and lower prices.

Rillieux was born on March 17, 1806 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was born a free man. His mother was a slave, but his father was a rich, white engineer for a cotton industry. Rillieux was educated in Paris, France.

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He became an instructor of mechanics at the age of 24. He returned home to his father’s cotton industry in 1834.

Sugar was dominant throughout Louisiana, but the labor was dangerous and inefficient.

The steam operated single pan vacuum was introduced in the 1830s. Rillieux then decided to add on another pan, and a third one to improve the efficiency.

Theodore Packwood hired Rillieux to improve his plantation refinery. Rillieux then patented the triple evaporation pan system in 1843. The success of his pan system improved sugar refining, and the quality.

Around the 1850s, Rillieux, planned to improve the sewer system, and drain swamp lands in Louisiana to prevent further outbreak of yellow fever. His former employer, Edmund Forstall, was against Rillieux’s plan.

Rillieux became even more disgusted with racism in the south, and decided to move back to France. He spent the rest of his life there inventing.

He died on October 8, 1904.

Know Your Black History

Welcome to day 18 of Black History Month. Last night I started thinking about who else I wanted to dig up information on, and I came across a picture of a young black boy in jailhouse clothing.

George Stinney Jr. was the youngest person executed in the United States. Stinney was born on October 21, 1929 in Pinewood, South Carolina.

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On March 23, 1944, Stinney was arrested for the murder of two young white girls. Sources say, the girls disappeared while riding on their bikes looking for flowers. They passed by the Stinney’s property, and asked George if they knew where maypops could be found.

The girls did not return, and a search was done. Their bodies were found the next morning and were filled with severe wounds to the head.

Let’s keep in mind, Stinney was a young 90lb boy  who was then arrested later, and interrogated. The arresting officers claimed that Stinney confessed to murdering them. According to the “confession”, Stinney wanted to have sex with one of the girls. Both girls fought him off, and he picked up an iron weapon and murdered them.

Let us also keep in mind, that there was no written confession.

It took no more than 10 minutes for an all white jury to convict Stinney of murder. He was executed on June 16, 1944 at the South Carolina State Penitentiary.