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.

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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 25

Salem Poor was a war hero. He was patriot of the American Revolutionary war.

Poor was born into slavery in the year of 1747 in Massachusetts. In 1769, he bought his freedom. He was married in 1771 to a free black woman, and had a son named Jonas.

Poor enlisted in the army in 1775. Blacks weren’t welcomed as soldiers, but black men risked their lives willingly, in hope of freedom from slavery.

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Poor became well known in a battle that took place on June 16, 1775. Poor was enlisted with Captain James Frye. Frye and his men, including Poor, marched from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Charleston, Massachusetts, and settled there at the top of the hill.

The British were aware, and there were casualties. Poor shot and killed a Lieutenant. He was credited for the killings of other soldiers as well.

More than a 1,000 black fighters lost their lives at the battle of Bunker Hill. The fighters wanted to prove their loyalty. George Washington was still against black men enlisting and volunteering.

The British offered freedom to slaves who would fight for England. Blacks were welcomed as soldiers under Washington’s command.

In 1775, Poor was recognized for his heroism by minutemen officers and a colonel, who petitioned that Poor behaved like an experienced officer, and an excellent soldier.

Poor re-enlisted several times before he was discharged in 1780. He was married three more times throughout his lifetime. He was also jailed in 1799 for a small period of time, for “breach of peace”.

Salem died in 1802.

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 23

Let’s get straight into it. Catherine Ferguson was a pioneer and an educator. She started a Sunday school in New York city.

Ferguson was born in 1779 into slavery. She was separated from her mother at the age of eight. The separation inspired her to help other children in the future.

At the age of 16, her freedom was bought by a female friend, for $200. To repay her female friend, she would serve her for 11 months, which equaled to $100. The rest of the money was raised by a merchant in New York.

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Ferguson became a cake baker. She would bake for weddings and parties. She was married at the age of 18, and birth two children, but they passed during their infancy.

During her lifetime, she cared for neglected children in her neighborhood. She would bring the children to Sunday school, which was located in the basement of a church. She would hold prayer meetings for the children, and adults.

She would take care of children, until she found them a suitable home.

Ferguson died in 1854 in her home from cholera. After her death, she was recognized for her social work, and she gained attention from the press. The Katy Ferguson home for unwed mothers was established in 1920 as a tribute to her work.

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.