Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Black History Month:Lonnie G. Johnson

Lonnie G. Johnson 

Invented the world-famous watergun, the Supersoaker.

Fast Fact: Johnson's company just came out with a new Nerf ball toy gun.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Black History Month:Otis Boykin

Otis Boykin 


Invented the electronic control devices for guided missiles, IBM computers, and the pacemaker.

Fast Fact: Boykin invented 28 different electronic devices.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Black History Month: Garrett Morgan

Image Credits: AP/Wide World, Corbis.

Garrett Morgan 

Invented the gas mask.
Fast Fact: Morgan also invented the first traffic signal.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Black History Month: George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver 

Developed peanut butter and 400 plant products!
Fast Fact: Carver was born a slave

. He didn't go to college until he was 30.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Black History Month: Granville T. Woods

Granville T. Woods 

Invented a train-to-station communication system.
Fast Fact: Woods left school at age 10 to work and support his family. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Black History Month: Elijah McCoy

Image Credit: New York Public Library.

Elijah McCoy 

Invented an oil-dripping cup for trains.

Fast Fact: Other inventors tried to copy McCoy's oil-dripping cup. But none of the other cups worked as well as his, so customers started asking for "the real McCoy." That's where the expression comes from.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Black History Month: Jan Ernst Matzeliger

Jan Ernst Matzeliger 

Invented a shoemaking machine that increased shoemaking speed by 900%!
Fast Fact: In 1992, the U.S. made a postage stamp in honor of Matzeliger.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Black History Month: Lewis Latimer

Lewis Latimer 


Invented an important part of the light bulb — the carbon filament.

Fast Fact: Latimer worked in the laboratories of both Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Black History Month: Dr. Mae C. Jemison

Dr. Mae C. Jemison

First Black Female astronaut in NASA history (August, 1992). After earning her M.D. at Cornell University in 1981, Dr. Jemison went on to research various vaccines in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC). She continued, and quite literally elevated, her medical research on the shuttle Endeavour by conducting experiments in materials processing and life sciences in space.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Black History Month: Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson 

  • Director (at age 32), Pediatric Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
  • Separated Siamese twins joined at the cranium in 1987. A 70-member surgical team, led by Dr. Carson, operated for 22 hours.
  • Graduate of Yale University; MD, University of Michigan School of Medicine
  • Gifted Hands (1990) is the autobiography of Ben Carson, described as an unmotivated child from the Detroit ghetto

Sunday Thought and Inspiration

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Black History Month: Dr. James Francis Shober

Dr. James Francis Shober (1853-1889)
First known Negro physician with a medical degree to practice in North Carolina. He was born in Winston Salem, August 23, 1853; graduate of Lincoln University, Oxford, Pa., 1875; M.D. from Howard University School of Medicine, 1878. Married Anna Maria Taylor, 1881; Practiced medicine in Wilmington, NC until his death, January 6, 1889.

Sunday Thought and Inspiration

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Black History Month: Mary Eliza Mahoney

Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926)

First Black professional nurse in the United States (1879). Mary's parents moved from North Carolina to Boston, where she was born on April 16, 1845. In Boston, Negro children were not permitted to attend schools with Whites until 1855, and even in New England, domestic service was the only way for a Negro woman to make a living. Interested in a nursing career from the age of eighteen, Mary was a "nurse" for several prominent white families prior to entering formal nurse training. On March 23, 1878, she was the "first coloured girl admitted" (Medical and Nursing Record Book, 1878) to the nurse training program at the New England Hospital for Women and Children; she graduated sixteen months later at the age of thirty-four. (Note: Mahoney's biographer, Helen Miller, was associate professor of nursing research at North Carolina Central University.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Black History Month: Dr. George Cleveland Hall

Dr. George Cleveland Hall (1864-1930)
  • Pioneer in surgery and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board at Provident Hospital; Appointed Chief of Staff at Hospital in 1926
  • Leading Negro physician in Chicago, 1900-1930
  • Instrumental in the establishment of infirmaries throughout the south
  • Organized the first postgraduate course at Provident Hospital
  • Founded Cook County Physicians' Association of Chicago
  • Spirited fighter for Negro rights
  • Vice President of National Urban League and instrumental in getting it started in Chicago
  • Active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • Helped to find interest in financial support of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History
    Revised 7/15/02

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Black History Month: Charles Richard Drew

Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950)
Charles Drew was a pioneer researcher in blood plasma for transfusion and in the development of blood banks. He was the first Director, American Red Cross Blood Bank, Professor, Howard University, and Chief Surgeon, Freedmen's Hospital. The U.S. Postal Service issued a Commemorative Stamp with his portrait in 1981. Drew received his M.D. and Master of Surgery (C.M.) degree from McGill University in 1933. On April 1, 1950, Drew died after an auto accident in rural Alamance County, North Carolina.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Black History Month: William Augustus Hinton

Dr. William Augustus Hinton (1883-1959)
First Negro physician to publish a textbook - Syphilis and Its Treatment, 1936. Known internationally for his development of a flocculation method for the detection of syphilis called the "Hinton Test." Dr. Hinton is also the first Negro to hold a professorship at Harvard University. He was born in Chicago December 15, 1883, attended the University of Kansas from 1900-1902 then transferred to Harvard, graduating Harvard Medical School in 1912. From 1921-1946 he taught bacteriology and immunology at Harvard before being promoted to clinical professor in 1949.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wishing You

Black History Month: Dr. Daniel Hale Williams

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1856-1931)
Dr. Williams performed the first successful open heart surgery in 1893 and founded Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses (the first black-owned hospital in America) in 1891. From 1893-1898, he was Surgeon-in-Chief, Freedmen's Hospital, Washington, DC. He also founded the National Medical Association in 1895 (Negroes were denied membership in the American Medical Association) and was a charter member of the American College of Surgeons (first and only Negro member for many years) in 1913.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Black History Month: Carver, Dr. George Washington

Carver, Dr. George Washington  
b. Diamond, Missouri, 1861 
d. Alabama, 1943

Legendary educator, scientest, inventor, agriculturalist, humanitarian and widely regarded as one of America's all time greatest men.

Born the slave of Moses Carver, Diamond, Missouri, in 1861, the youngster could hardly have dreamed what an impression he was to make upon the world. A band of pro-slavery men carried off both mother and son to Arkansas, but Carver hired a "bushwhacker" who found and returned George, more dead than alive.

Carver was a frail and sickly child. He yearned for an education, but there were no schools for blacks in that area. When his curiosity about plants and his zeal for an education became untenable, Carver started out on his own. His life reads like an odyssey. Picking up an elementary education wherever he could, Carver finally, by working as a domestic for a Kansas family, secured a high school education.

After many disappointments, Carver enrolled in Simpson College in Iowa, having been refused entry elsewhere because of his color. Although interested in art he finally attended Ames College, now Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1891. Here he met young Henry Wallace later the Secretary of Agriculture under Franklin D. Roosevelt, with whom he became a life-long friend.
After Carver earned his master's degree in science in 1898, Booker T. Washington invited him to come to Tuskegee Institute. Loath as he was to leave Ames he accepted. There in a cramped "laboratory", lacking the essential tools for research he made his phenomenal discoveries which were to revolutionize Southern agriculture and to prove of lasting benefit to the world. Washington appointed him Head of the Agricultural Department as well as Director and Consultant Chemist of the experimental station.

Carver's contributions were many. He developed new and more resistant strains of cotton, thus increasing the South's cotton yield. Rags, paper and other trash he converted into fertilizer. To revitalize worn out soil he persuaded farmers to raise peas, soybeans and cow peas. Healso developed hundreds of products from sweet potatoes and peanuts.
Carver became world famous but so humble was he that he rejected the offers which came to him to leave Tuskegee. Not only Henry A. Wallace, but Presidents Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt, scientists like Thomas Edison, and inventors like Henry Ford became his admirers and friends. In 1931, Joseph Stalin invited him to Russia to overlook the cotton plantations of the Soviet Union. Carver sent some of his ablest students, but he felt obligated to fulfill his commitment to Washington, though the latter was long since deceased.

Too frugal to spend his meager earnings, at his death in 1943, he left his savings of $33,000 to the Carver Laboratory at Tuskegee. In honor of his many contributions the United States, in 1952 built a monument near Diamond, the Old Carver home and made it a national memorial.

There are Carver schools all over the country. George Washington Carver, however, is the only black American to whom a national monument has ever been erected. Along with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Carver was elected to the Hall of Fame of Great Americans at New York University in 1973.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Black History Month: Armstrong, Louis

Armstrong, Louis  
b. Aug. 4, 1901? New Orleans, Louisian
d. July 1970

Beloved musician, singer, songwriter, bandleader and entertainer

Trumpeter/singer Louis Armstrong was the seminal artist of jazz history -- the first to combine trumpet virtuosity and an original musical vision with an entertainer's sense of presence and persona. The result would make him the most influential instrumentalist of his generation, and bring him the respect and adulation of musicians of all eras to come, as well as a vast audience beyond jazz that has never stopped growing. Case in point: The Guinness Book Of World Records lists Armstrong as the oldest performer ever to chart a No. 1 hit record, an accomplishment achieved in 1964 when his record of Hello Dolly unexpectedly displaced the Beatles from the top position. And 17 years after his death, Armstrong's record of "It's a Wonderful World" generated a new young audience when it was featured in the 1987 film Good Morning, Vietnam.
Most recent research gives Armstrong's birth as Aug. 4, 1901. He grew up in New Orleans and received his first music instruction in 1913 at a children's home. By 1915 he was sitting in with local bands. He came north to Chicago to join King Oliver in 1922 and made his first records with Oliver the following April ("Chimes Blues"). Though Chicago would be his base for the next 12 years, he went to New York for the first time in September 1924 to join Fletcher Henderson's band and record extensively with various blues singers, including Bessie Smith, as well as with Clarence Williams and Sidney Bechet.

In November 1925 he was back in Chicago, where he began recording under his own name and building the core work upon which his reputation as a major innovator (as opposed to a popular entertainer) would forever rest. These included the legendary Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions and the early years of big band records from 1929 to 1934. During this period his trumpet style exploded from powerful New Orleans ensemble lead into a solo voice whose majesty seemed to soar with a voracious and ravenous splendor.
In 1929 Armstrong began recording popular songs, with various dance orchestras providing appropriate introductions and backgrounds to his vocals and trumpet solos. Unlike the work of the later swing bands, these orchestras constantly kept Armstrong at the center of every performance. In masterpieces such as "Stardust," "Sweethearts On Parade," "Lazy River" and many others, he helped lay the basis for the joining of jazz and popular music in the '30s, and set the parameters in which such players as Red Allen, Harry James, Roy Eldridge, Taft Jordan, Bunny Berigan, Dizzy Gillespie and others would work for the next 10 to 15 years.

By the mid-1930s, as the swing era began and Armstrong took to performing a more settled repertoire, the period of innovation in his career came to an end. His key solos took on a relatively unchanging form, and a long recording association with Decca Records began. There would be updated arrangements of early pieces, many of them outstanding, but no new musical breakthroughs. The personality elements of Armstrong's performance now came forward in radio, recordings with other Decca artists, and cameo film roles in Pennies From Heaven, Dr. Rhythm, Going Places, Cabin In The Sky, and many more.
In 1947 Armstrong officially dropped the big band and resumed performing traditional jazz with an all-star group that included Earl Hines, Sid Catlett, Jack Teagarden and Barney Bigard. Armstrong's playing loosened up somewhat, though he never strayed far from established routines. He toured and recorded with various versions of the All-Stars for the rest of his career.

In 1955 he made his first concert tour of Europe since the early '30s. Another tour followed taking him to Africa, which was filmed by the CBS "See It Now" unit and became both a television profile and feature film documentary (Satchmo The Great). The international tours in the political context of the Cold War earned him the title "Ambassador Satch."

In the mid-1950s he recorded his last unmitigated jazz masterpiece work, Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy, for Columbia. There were also some astonishing reworkings of his early classics in A Musical Autobiography for Decca, and several session with Ella Fitzgerald for Verve that became major sellers. He continued a full touring schedule until 1968, when his health finally yielded to a weakened heart.

Armstrong died in July 1970, a wealthy and much beloved man, though his music was considered by some to be old-fashioned, and his performing style dated and politically incorrect.

In 1953, Armstrong became the first musician elected by Readers to the new Down Beat Hall of Fame.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Black History Movie Friday: Roots

Roots is a 1977 American television miniseries based on Alex Haley's novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Roots received 36 Emmy Awardnominations, winning nine. It also won a Golden Globeand a Peabody Award.[1] It received unprecedentedNielsen ratings with the finale still standing as the third-highest rated U.S. television program ever.[2] It was shot on a budget of $6 million.[3][4]
The series introduced LeVar Burton in the role ofKunta Kinte, Haley's maternal fourth great-grandfather. A sequel, Roots: The Next Generations, was broadcast in 1979, and a second sequel, Roots: The Gift, was produced as a Christmas movie which starred LeVar Burton and Louis Gossett, Jr.
Following the success of the original novel and the miniseries, Haley was sued by author Harold Courlander, who asserted that Roots was plagiarized from his own novel The African, published nine years prior to Roots in 1967. The resulting trial ended with an out-of-court settlement and Haley's admission that some passages within Roots had been copied from Courlander's work.[5] Separately, researchers refuted Haley's claims that, as the basis for Roots, he had successfully traced his own ancestry back through slavery to a specific individual and village in Africa.[6][7]

GenreHistorical novel-based
period piece
Produced byStan Margulies
Written byAlex Haley
StarringOlivia Cole
Ben Vereen
LeVar Burton
John Amos
Louis Gossett, Jr.
Leslie Uggams
Georg Stanford Brown
Music byGerald Fried
Quincy Jones (ep. 1)
BudgetUS$6 million
CountryUnited States
Original channelABC
Original runJanuary 23, 1977 – January 30, 1977
Running time570 minutes (90 minutes each)
No. of episodes8 (re-edited for VHS and DVD to 6)
Followed byRoots: The Next Generations

Black History Month: Ali, Muhammad

Ali, Muhammad
b. January 17, 1942, Louisville, Kentucky

Professional boxer
Three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, known for his lyrical charm and boasts as much as for his powerful fists, has moved far beyond the boxing ring in both influence and purpose. Ali won an Olympic gold medal and later tossed it into a river because he was disgusted by racism in America. As a young man he was recruited by Malcolm X to join the Nation of Islam. He refused to serve in Vietnam - a professional fighter willing to serve time in jail for his pacifist ideals. He has contributed to countless, diverse charities and causes. And his later years have found him interested in world politics as he has battled to keep Parkinson's disease at bay.

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., on January 17, 1942, and was raised in a clapboard house at 3302 Grand Avenue in middle-class Louisville, Kentucky. He began boxing at the age of 12. A white Louisville patrolman named Joe Martin, who had an early television show called "Tomorrow's Champions," started Ali working out in Louisville's Columbia Gym, but it was a black trainer named Fred Stoner who taught Ali the science of boxing. Stoner taught him to move with the grace of a dancer, and impressed upon him the subtle skills necessary to move beyond good and into the realm of great.
After winning an Olympic gold medal at 18, Ali signed the most lucrative contract - a 50-50 split - negotiated by a beginning professional in the history of boxing, with a 12-member group of millionaires called the Louisville Sponsoring Group. Later, he worked his way into contention for the coveted heavyweight title shot by boasting and creating media interest at a time when, by his own admission, he was only ranked number nine on the list of contenders. Even from the beginning, it was clear that Ali was his own man - quick, strong-willed, original, and witty. In 1961 he told Sports Illustrated's Gilbert Rogin, "Boxing is dying because everybody's so quiet.... What boxing needs is more ... Clays." Ali knew that his rhymes and press-grabbing claims would infuse more interest and more money into the sport of boxing, and he was his own best public relations man. In February of 1964 he told readers of Sports Illustrated, "If I were like a lot of ... heavyweight boxers ... you wouldn't be reading this story right now. If you wonder what the difference between them and me is, I'll break the news: you never heard of them. I'm not saying they're not good boxers. Most of them ... can fight almost as good as I can. I'm just saying you never heard of them. And the reason for that is because they cannot throw the jive. Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody."

The following month Ali - then still Cassius Clay - fought Sonny Liston in a match of classic contenders for the heavyweight championship of the world. The Miami fight almost single-handedly restored intelligence and balance to boxing. Cassius Clay had been chanting the war cry "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" for weeks; he beat Liston in a display of beautiful, controlled boxing. Liston could hit with deadly power, but Ali utilized his skills and courage with forethought and aplomb. He won the fight to become heavyweight champion of the world. At the tender age of 22 Ali knew that he was something above and beyond a great boxer: He had marketing sense, political finesse, and a feeling of noble purpose.

Throughout his career and life, Ali has always professed to want to help other black Americans - and he has, time and time again. When he returned from Italy, having just won an Olympic gold medal, he was so proud of his trophy that he wore it day and night and showed it to everyone, whether they wanted to see it or not. In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ali's first wife remembered him saying, "I was young, black Cassius Marcellus Clay, who had won a gold medal for his country. I went to downtown Louisville to a five-and-dime store that had a soda fountain. I sat down at the counter to order a burger and soda pop. The waitress looked at me.... 'Sorry, we don't serve coloreds,' she said. I was furious. I went all the way to Italy to represent my country, won a gold medal, and now I come back to America and can't even get served at a five-and-dime store. I went to a bridge, tore the medal off my neck and threw it into the river. That gold medal didn't mean a thing to me if my black brothers and sisters were treated wrong in a country I was supposed to represent."
While in Miami, at the age of 21, Ali was inspired by human rights activist Malcolm X to become a member of the Muslim faith. The following year Malcolm X said of Ali, as was quoted by Houston Horn in Sports Illustrated, "[He] will mean more to his people than any athlete before him. He is more than [first black major-league baseball player] Jackie Robinson was, because Robinson is the white man's hero. But Cassius is the black man's hero. Do you know why? Because the white press wanted him to lose [his heavyweight championship bout] ... because he is a Muslim. You notice nobody cares about the religion of other athletes. But their prejudice against Clay blinded them to his ability." Twelve years later, on Face The Nation, Ali said "We don't have Black Muslims, that's a press word. We have white brothers, we have brown, red, and yellow, all colors can be Muslims.... I'm looking for peace one day with all people." Cassius Clay, Jr., was given the name Muhammad Ali by Muslim patriarch Elijah Muhammad; it was not just a name, but a title meaning "beloved of Allah," deity of the Muslim faith.

Ali retained his world heavyweight champion title in June of 1965 by again knocking out Sonny Liston, this time with a stunning right-hand punch to the side of the head. The knock-out blow was thrown with the astounding speed that separated Ali from other heavyweights; it had sufficient force to lift Liston's left foot - upon which most of his weight was resting - clear off the canvas.

As a Muslim and thus, a conscientious objector, Muhammad Ali refused to even consider going to Vietnam in 1966; a tremendous public outcry erupted against him. According to Jack Olsen in Sports Illustrated, "The governor of Illinois found Clay 'disgusting,' and the governor of Maine said Clay 'should be held in utter contempt by every patriotic American.' An American Legion post in Miami asked people to 'join in condemnation of this unpatriotic, loudmouthed, bombastic individual.' The Chicago Tribune waged a choleric campaign against holding the next Clay fight in Chicago.... The noise became a din, the drumbeats of a holy war. TV and radio commentators, little old ladies ... bookmakers, and parish priests, armchair strategists at the Pentagon and politicians all over the place joined in a crescendo of get-Cassius clamor."

Although Ali had not been charged or arrested for violating the Selective Service Act - much less convicted - the New York State Athletic Commission and World Boxing Association suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his heavyweight title in May of 1967, minutes after he officially announced that he would not submit to induction. Ali said to Sports Illustrated contributor Edwin Shrake, "I'm giving up my title, my wealth, maybe my future. Many great men have been tested for their religious beliefs. If I pass this test, I'll come out stronger than ever." Eventually Ali was sentenced to five years in prison, released on appeal, and his conviction overturned three years later.

In November of 1970 Ali fought Jerry Quarry in Atlanta. His victory was a symbol of release and freedom to the 5,000 people watching the fight; Ali had personally survived his vilification by much of the American public, but more, he had reclaimed his professional reputation and prominence. Four months later Ali had the world as his audience when he went up against Joe Frazier in Manila. There he fell from invincibility; suddenly Frazier reigned as heavyweight champ. "Man, I hit him with punches that'd bring down the walls of a city," Frazier said to Mark Kram in Sports Illustrated. Ali responded, "It was like death. Closest thing to dyin' that I know of." On September 10, 1973, Frazier won a rematch with Ken Norton and continued to reign as heavyweight champion. Returning with a vengeance, however, Ali fought Frazier again in 1974, won the match, and replaced his competitor as the world heavweight champion. Ali fought Frazier once again in October of 1975, won that match, and secured his title. Taking time to reflect on the tumult of his fifteen-year boxing career, Ali co-wrote his autobiography - characteristically titled The Greatest - My Own Story - in 1975.

In 1982 Dr. Dennis Cope, director of the Medical Ambulatory Care Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, began treating Ali for Parkinson's syndrome; Cope and colleague Dr. Stanley Fahn later theorized in the Chicago Tribune that Ali was suffering, more precisely, from Pugilistic Parkinsonism, brought on by repetitive trauma to the head - and that only an autopsy could confirm their suspicions. After losing a 1980 title bout to Larry Holmes, Ali had exhibited sluggishness and was misdiagnosed as having a thyroid condition; he was given a thyroid hormone. When Dr. Cope made the connection between Ali's decreasing motor skills and Parkinson's disease, he prescribed Sinemet (L-dopa). Ali was shortly restored to his previous level of energy and awareness; as long as he took his medication regularly, he was able to keep the disease in check. In 1988 Ali told New York Times Magazine contributor Peter Tauber: "I've got Parkinson's syndrome. I'm in no pain.... If I was in perfect health - if I had won my last two fights - if I had no problem, people would be afraid of me. Now they feel sorry for me. They thought I was Superman. Now they can say 'He's human, like us. He has problems."'

In 1984 another of Ali's medical confidantes, Dr. Martin D. Ecker, ventured in the Boston Globe that Ali should have quit boxing long before he finally did - for the second and final time - in 1981 after losing to Trevor Berbick. His bout with Berbick was his 61st and final fight. By then Ali had been showing signs of neurological damage for over a year. Ali's former doctor, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, told the fighter to quit in 1977 when he first saw signs of Ali's reflexes slowing down. Seven years later, Pacheco, a consultant and boxing commentator for NBC-TV, explained to Betsy Lehman in the Boston Globe why he feels Ali didn't quit boxing in 1977: "The most virulent infection in the human race is the standing ovation. Once you've seen that, you can't get off the stage. Once you feel that recognition ... the roar of 50,000 people, you just don't want to give it up." When Ali initially surrendered his title in 1979, he was paid $250,000 to quit, but he eventually returned to his sport, perhaps as Pacheco suggested, because the recognition had become habit-forming.
Toward the end of Ali's boxing career, and afterward, his ambitions took a decided turn toward statesmanship. In 1980 he cast his lot with the Democratic Party, supporting then-Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. In August of that year, while in intense training for the Holmes fight, he found time to work the floor of the Democratic National Convention in New York City. He also functioned as something of a diplomat in February of 1985 when he attempted to secure the release of four kidnapped Americans in Lebanon; unfortunately, he and his three advisers were not successful.

During his career in the ring Ali made more than $50 million, two-thirds of which went to managerial expenses and taxes. He said to New York Times Magazine contributor Tauber in 1988, "I never talk about boxing. It just served its purpose. I was only about 11 or 12 years old when I said 'I'm gonna get famous so I can help my people.'" Indicating his continuing desire to help people, in 1990 Ali visited Our Children's Foundation, Inc., on Manhattan's 125th Street. According to Bill Gallo in the New York Daily News, he addressed the children there, saying, "The sun has a purpose. The moon has a purpose. The snow has a purpose. Cows have a purpose. You were born for a purpose. You have to find your purpose. Go to school. Learn to read and write.... What is your purpose, your occupation? Find your purpose.... What do you have to find?" "Purpose!," they shouted gleefully in unison. True to form, one of Ali's favored inscriptions when signing autographs is "Love is the net where hearts are caught like fish."

Although Parkinson's syndrome has slowed Ali down, he still remains active - raising money for the Muhammad Ali Foundation and frequently appearing at sports tributes and fund-raisers. Muhammad's wife Lonnie believes "Muhammad knows he has this illness for a reason. It's not by chance. Parkinson's disease has made him a more spiritual person. Muhammad believes God gave it to him to bring him to another level, to create another destiny," she stated in People.

During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, 3.5 billion people watched on television as three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali slowly ascended the stadium steps with trembling hands to ignite the Olympic Flame. Everyone was deeply touched; however, no one was more moved than Ali himself. "He kept turning it [the torch] in his hands and looking at it. He knows now that people won't slight his message because of his impairment," said his wife Lonnie in People.

Muhammad has been blessed to meet with important dignitaries, including with President Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, and Pope John Paul II. His travels are his main source of income - charging as much as $200,000 for appearances. He usually travels 275 days out of the year. Although he enjoys his missionary work and public appearances, Ali's greatest pleasure is when he is at home in Berrien Springs, Michigan with his family - wife Yolanda and their adopted son Asaad Amin.

In Berrien Springs, he lives a modest life in a house at the end of the road on an old farm. He has a pool and a pond and a security gate with an intercom. According to Kim Forburger, Ali's assistant, "He's the only man I know where the kids come to the gate and say 'Can Muhammad come out and play?'"
When asked if he has any regrets, Ali responds, "My children, I never got to raise them because I was always boxing and because of divorce," he said in People. When asked, Is he sorry he ever got into the ring?, he responded, "If I wasn't a boxer, I wouldn't be famous. If I wasn't famous, I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing now."

B. Kimberly Taylor Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 16.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a leading member of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was ordered by a bus driver to give up her seat to a white passenger. When she refused, she was arrested and taken to jail. Local leaders of the NAACP, especially Edgar D. Nixon, recognized that the arrest of the popular and highly respected Parks was the event that could rally local blacks to a bus protest.

The Montgomery bus boycott lasted for more than a year, demonstrating a new spirit of protest among Southern blacks. King's serious demeanor and consistent appeal to Christian brotherhood and American idealism made a positive impression on whites outside the South. Incidents of violence against black protesters, including the bombing of King's home, focused media attention on Montgomery. In February 1956 an attorney for the MIA filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking an injunction against Montgomery's segregated seating practices. The federal court ruled in favor of the MIA, ordering the city's buses to be desegregated, but the city government appealed the ruling to the United States Supreme Court. By the time the Supreme Court upheld the lower court decision in November 1956, King was a national figure.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Black History Month: MURDER OF EMMETT TILL

Emmett Till was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. When he was 14, he was sent to Mississippi to spend the summer with his uncle. Because of his Northern upbringing, Till was not accustomed to the racial taboos of the segregated South; he bragged to his Southern black friends that in Chicago he even had a white girlfriend. These unbelieving friends dared him to enter a store and ask a white woman for a date. Inside, Till hugged Carol Bryant's waist and squeezed her hand, then whistled at her as his friends rushed him away.

On August 28, 1955, Carol Bryant's husband, Roy, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, abducted Till from his uncle's home. Three days later, his naked, beaten, decomposed body was found in the Tallahatchie River; he had been shot in the head. The two white men were tried one month later by an all-white jury, and despite the fact that they admitted abducting Till, they were acquitted because the body was too mangled to be positively identified.

Till's murder became a rallying point for the Civil Rights Movement. Photographs of his open casket were reprinted across the country, and protests were organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and such leaders as W. E. B. Du Bois. The public outrage over the injustice of the trial helped ensure that Congress included a provision for federal investigations of civil rights violations in the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


On July 2, 1965, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act went into effect. This provision prohibited job discrimination in private business. In an executive order issued in 1965, President Johnson used the expression "affirmative action." Such affirmative action, Johnson wrote, was to be taken to ensure that applicants and employees "are treated without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." The president's speech further elaborated the idea behind affirmative action: "You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and ... bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, 'You are free to compete with all the others' and justly believe that you have been completely fair."

On August 6, 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This piece of legislation eased the registering of black voters in many Southern counties by eliminating voter examinations. Armed with the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1965, African Americans, and in fact all Americans, were equipped to pursue full civil rights for all citizens.

Monday, February 6, 2012


On August 28, 1963, King delivered the keynote address to an audience of more than 200,000 civil rights supporters. His "I Have a Dream" speech expressed the hopes of the Civil Rights Movement in oratory as moving as any in American history: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' ... I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

The speech and the march built on the Birmingham demonstrations to create the political momentum that resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited segregation in public accommodations, as well as discrimination in education and employment. As a result of King's effectiveness as a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement and his highly visible moral stance he was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize for peace.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Thought and Inspiration

Black History Month: THE 1963 MARCH ON WASHINGTON

The 1963 March on Washington attracted an estimated 250,000 people for a peaceful demonstration to promote Civil Rights and economic equality for African Americans. Participants walked down Constitution and Independence avenues, then - 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed - gathered before the Lincoln Monument for speeches, songs, and prayer. Televised live to an audience of millions, the march provided dramatic moments, most memorably the Rev Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Far larger than previous demonstrations for any cause, the march had an obvious impact, both on the passage of civil rights legislation and on nationwide public opinion. It proved the power of mass appeal and inspired imitators in the antiwar, feminist, and environmental movements. But the March on Washington in 1963 was more complex than the iconic images most Americans remember it for. As the high point of the Civil Rights Movement, the march - and the integrationist, nonviolent, liberal form of protest it stood for - was followed by more radical, militant, and race-conscious approaches.

It was A. Philip Randolph who first conceived of a march on Washington. In 1941 his threat to assemble 100,000 African Americans in the capital helped convince President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign an executive order banning discrimination in the defense industries and creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee. More than 20 years later, Randolph revived his idea. His primary interest, as always, was jobs - African Americans were disproportionately unemployed and underpaid. In a December 1962 meeting, Randolph and Rustin began planning the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Black History Month: SELMA MARCHES

On March 7, 1965, as 600 marc
hers tried to cross the Pettus Bridge on their way from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery, more than 80 km (50 mi) away. The goal of the march was to draw national attention to the struggle for black voting rights in the state. Police beat and tear-gassed the marchers just outside of Selma, and televised scenes of the violence, on a day that came to be known as Bloody Sunday, resulted in an outpouring of support to continue the march. SCLC petitioned for and received a federal court order barring police from interfering with a renewed march to Montgomery. Two weeks after Bloody Sunday, more than 3000 people, including a core of 300 marchers who would make the entire trip, set out toward Montgomery. They arrived in Montgomery five days later, where King addressed a rally of more than 20,000 people in front of the capitol building.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Black History Movie Friday: Alex Haley's Queen

Alex Haley's Queen is a miniseries adaptation of the 1993 Alex Haley/David Stevens novel Queen: The Story of an American Family, directed by John Erman and starring Halle Berry in the title role. The film tells the life story of a young slave girl named Queen, and illustrates the problems faced by bi-racial slaves in America. Throughout her life Queen struggles to fit into the two cultures of her heritage, and is at times shunned by both.
The story is based on the life of Haley's paternal grandmother Queen.
This is a very good family movie to watch!

Distributed byWarner Bros.
Directed byJohn Erman
Produced byDavid L. Wolper
Written byAlex Haley (novel)
David Stevens (Teleplay)
StarringHalle Berry
Danny Glover
Tucker Stone
Jasmine Guy
Tim Daly
Martin Sheen
Paul Winfield
Music byChristopher Dedrick
Editing byJames Galloway
Paul LaMastra
Country United States
Original channelCBS
Original runFebruary 14, 1993 (US) – February 18, 1993
No. of episodes3
Preceded byRoots: The Gift


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