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 24

Lucy Parsons was a labor organizer who fought for the rights of the poor, women, and equality for people of color.

Parsons was born in Texas around 1853. Her ancestry consisted of African American, Native American, and Mexican. It is possible that she was born of slave parents. She would only claim that she was Mexican, and a Native American.


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Around 1870, she met her soon to be husband, Albert Parsons. Since Albert was white, their marriage probably wasn’t legal. The couple was forced to leave Texas due to their political involvement. They moved to Chicago in 1873.

Parsons began to write for “The Socialist” in 1878. She would write about the homeless, women, and unemployed veterans. Throughout Chicago she became a powerful writer, and inspirational speaker.

She contributed to the founding of the International Working People’s Association(IWPA) in 1883. The IWPA organized a labor strike in 1886 to support the eight hour work day. Nearly 80,000 workers were involved, and the movement caused violence to erupt five days later.


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Several of the organizers were jailed, including Albert. They were all hanged.

Parsons continued to raise awareness after her husband’s death. She condemned lynching, and continued to advocate for people of color. She also joined the Communist Party in 1939.

Parsons continued to work hard for change until her death. She died in a house fire in Chicago on March 7, 1942.

Black History Month: Day 17

Today I want people to know the story of Lena Baker. She was wrongfully convicted of murder of her white employer. She was found guilty and executed.

Lena Baker was born on June 8, 1900 in Georgia. She, and her siblings were sharecroppers. By 1940, Baker was a mother of three, and worked as maid. A few years later she began working for Ernest Knight.

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Black History Month: Day 16

Today I’m turning the spotlight on Carter G. Woodson. He is known as the “Father of Black History Month”. He’s also one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard.

Woodson was born on December 19, 1875 in New Canton, Virginia. He was born to a poor slave family. Around 15 years of age, Woodson worked as a miner, a sharecropper, and attended high school.

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Welcome to day 10 of Black History month. Today I would like to turn your attention to someone who made contributions to establishing free public education for blacks. Matthew Gaines was a community leader and a minister.

Gaines was born on August 4, 1840 in Pineville, Louisiana. He was born a slave. He learned to read by candlelight. Books were sneaked to him by a young white boy.

Twice, Gaines attempted to escape slavery, but he was caught both times, and sent back to slavery. He worked as a blacksmith, and a sheepherder.


He settled in Burton, Washington county after the emancipation, and that is when he became a leader of the black community. He was elected as a senator during the reconstruction. He represented the 16th district in the Texas legislature.

He sponsored a bill that would work towards educational improvement for the black movement, and exempting organizations from taxation. On June 12, 1871, the bill became a law.

Gaines was concerned about blacks’ protection from mobs when exercising the 15th amendment. He also felt that a difference could be made with blacks at the polls. That is how the Militia Bill came about, and it was successful, but Gaines was not able to gain support to elect a black Texan to the House of Representatives.

He was elected to a six year term in the senate, but served only four years because he was convicted on the charge of bigamy in 1873. That conviction caused his seat to be challenged. The charge was overturned, and he was re-elected.

Gaines stayed active in politics, and expressed his political views at gatherings, conventions, and from his pulpit.

Gaines died on June 11, 1900 in Giddings Texas.


Today I would like to turn your attention to Barbara C. Jordan. She was the first African American elected from the deep south, and the first congresswoman from that area since 1883.

Jordan was born on February 21, 1936, in Houston Texas. She graduated from Phyllis Wheatley high school in 1952. In 1956, she earned her B.A from Texas Southern University, and her law degree in 1959 from Boston University. In 1960, she began to practice law.


She worked on the John F. Kennedy campaign in 1960 as well, and that’s when her political work came about. She organized a “get out and vote” campaign as well. She ran for the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and 1964, but lost both times.

In 1966, she ran for Texas Senate, and won. She won over the other senators, showing them that she was worthy of the position. She helped with the passing of bills, establishing minimum wage for the state, and the Texas Fair Employment Practices Commission.


She was the first black woman to preside over a legislative body. She also became the first black chief executive in 1972. In 1974, she gave a 15 minute opening statement of the impeachment hearing for Richard Nixon.

In 1976, she delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, which made her the first African American to do so.

Although Jordan battled multiple sclerosis, she continued to work hard for equal rights and opportunites. Jordan never married, and kept her personal life private. She died on January 17, 1996 in Texas from pneumonia.

Read more about Barbara C. Joran at


Welcome to day seven of Black History Month everyone! Today I would like to turn your attention to Doctor Charles Drew. Drew was the most prominent African American in the medical field.

Drew was the first African American to develop ways of processing, and storing blood plasma in blood banks.

Charles R. Drew was born on June 3, 1904, to a middle class family in Washington D.C. He was athletic growing up. He won several medals for swimming in elementary school. Later on, he gained interest in football and basketball.


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In 1922, Drew graduated from high school, and attended Amherst college on a sports scholarship. He earned his bachelors in 1926. He wanted to pursue his medical career, but couldn’t afford to. He then became a biology teacher, and a coach for Morgan college.

In 1928, Drew attended McGill University in Canada. He was a top student, and was a memeber of the Alpha Omega Alpha. He completed internships at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and the Montreal General Hospital.

In 1938, Drew studied at Columbia University, and trained at the Presbyterian Hospital, in New York. That is when Drew discovered a method for processing, and storing blood. He also discovered that plasma lasts much longer than whole blood, making it possible to be stored for long periods of time.

Drew created two of the first blood banks. In 1941, he returned to Howard, and served as a professor. He became chief surgeon at Freedman’s Hospital, and became the first African American examiner for the American Board of Surgery.


Drew died on April 1, 1950 due to a car accident. He left behind a wife, and four children, and a legacy that will always be remembered.

Read more about Charles Drew at