Back to Content

















Althea Gibson

b.1927
"I always wanted to be somebody"

Gibson was born near Sumter, South Carolina, August 25, 1927. She was raised in Harlem, New York and started playing tennis as a kid.

Playing tennis made Gibson a 'first' in many of her accomplishments. Three of those firsts were; In 1956 she won the French Open making her the first Black tennis player to win a major tennis title. Secondly, In 1957 she became the first Black woman to win at Wimbledon. Again in 1957 she became the first Black athelete to win a US national tennis championship.

Althea Gibson dominated women's tennis in the late 1950's. She was the first Black to win Wimbledon. Gibson turned professional in 1958, but women's tennis at that time offered few tournaments and prizes.

After winning the US professional women's title in tennis in 1960, she became a professional golfer, with moderate success. In 1971 she was elected to the National Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame and in 1975 she became the athletic director for the state of New Jersey.

In the last few years Althea's health hasn't been good. Her condition is said to be terminal. Gibson would never ask for help. A group of her friends have organized a foundation to help her called, "Friends of Althea Gibson." For more information follow the link.



Billie Holiday

1915-1959
Lady Sing The Blues

Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Harris in Philadelphia, PA on April 7, 1915. With her mother Sadie, Billie grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and later they moved to New York. Billie's mother was just 13 years old when Billie was born. It was in New York that Billie began to sing as a teenager. At 18 years old she was a beautiful young woman and had a natural ear for music and when she sang, you could hear and feel all the emotions that sang..

Billie "Lady Day" Holiday was one of the most famous jazz singers of the 20th century. She lived many of the lyrics she sang—her father abandoned the family when Billie was young, and her mother was distant and unloving. Billie was left with family members who mistreated her.

Holiday's life was a very complicated one, she had been abused as a child. It was also said that she could barely read or write, but her artistic ability allowed her to overcome part of her illiteracy.

Billie travelled the south and became disgussed with 'Jim Crow Laws'. She started to sing about lynching, the song, "Strange Fruit" became her signature song. It was Holiday's contibution as a civil rights activist.( Holiday was travelling with Artie Shaw's band touring the south when she saw a Black man hanging from a tree.)

Holiday was not formally trained as a vocalist, however, she sang with all the greats of her time. Unfortunately, she was drawn to abusive men and drugs, which led to her early death in 1959. Her haunting, emotional voice lives on in her songs and the hearts of many of her fans.



Charles Drew

1904-1950
Doctor and Researcher

Drew was born in Washington, DC, June 3 1904. He attended Amherst College where he was an all-American football player. When the US entered the war in 1941, Drew was elected director of the bood for the national research Council, collecting blood for the US Army and Navy. He set the ground work for the Red Cross collecting and banking procedures.

Charles Drew was the first Negro to earn a doctorate in medicine from Columbia University. He went on to become the leading authority on the preservation of blood for transfusion. He developed the first "blood banks" for the storage of large quantities of blood. He organized and directed the blood-plasma programs of the US Army, and worked to stop the exclusion of Black blood from plasma banks. He later became a surgeon and professor of medicine.

Drew headed Howard University's department of surgery and chief surgeon at Freedman's Hospital. In 1944 he was prmoted yo hospital chief of staff and medical director, aposition he held until 1948. In 1950 hewas killed in a car accident on his way to a medical conference.



Charlie Parker

1920-1955
Yardbird

Charles Christopher Parker, Jr., was born on August 29, 1920 in Kansas City, KS.

Bird's life was as difficult one. He started to use drugs and use alcohol. Parker's drug use was something he tried to control, but was never able to. At 15 year old, Bird dropped out of high school and married Rebecca Ruffin. In 1938 his first child was born.

During the next few years Parker studied music from a lot of the older musicians. He worked very hard, it was in 1939 that he found his niche and helped a new sound to evolve in the world of jazz.

An alto saxophone player, he was one of most powerful forces behind the "New Age of Jazz." Bird, as he was affectionately known, was one of the most sought-after musicians of his time. The clubs and coffee houses filled with people who wanted to hear this new "bebop" sound.

The Bird legend lives on today. Young jazz musicians still talk about "Bird". Bird's musical genius lives on.



Clayton Moore

1914-1999
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear!

A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi Yo Silver!" The Lone Ranger. "Hi Yo Silver, Away!" with his faithful companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains, led the fight for law and order in the early west. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again.

Cowboys were the heroes of many baby boomers. On saturday mornings the TV was the babysitter for a generation. Kids everywhere loved cowboys and cartoons. One of the most well known cowboys was "The Lone Ranger" with his faithful companion, Tonto. Clayton Moore was "The Lone Ranger", not just an actor, he was a hero. To millions of baby boomers he was it and no one will ever be able to change their minds about their hero.

Clayton Moore was born September 14, 1914 in Chicago, IL. Jack Carlton Moore. As a kid he was known to his friends as Jack and later in Hollywood he was called Clay by his friends. Moore was the youngest of three boys. He was born into a middle class family and had many fond memories of growing with his brothers.

Moore knew he wanted to be a cowboy from the time he was a young boy. However, his road to becoming a matinee idol had many turns. He did some modeling for awhile in New York with one of his brothers, he even worked in a trapeze act during the 1934 World's Fair in Chicago.

In New York he found his way into acting. Once he caught the bug, he soon headed to Hollywood. In his early days in Hollywood he found work as a extra and sometimes even a stuntman. In 1949, he received the role of the Lone Ranger and played the Lone Ranger until the 1950's. He appeared in 169 episodes of the Lone Ranger and two movie features .

It 1956 the Lone Ranger changed over to a new technology--color

. Color TV made the Lone Ranger even more exciting. Moore's fans were very loyal to him. In 1978 a new movie was being made and Moore was not asked to appear in the movie, he was told he couldn't even wear the 'mask' anymore. Moore had continued to appear as the Lone Ranger, signing autographs and talking with a new generation of kids.

Moore was well loved by all. When Moore was invited to the White house, then president Richard Nixon, posed for a picture wearing his guns. Jay Silverheels played Tonto. Moore and Silverheels were great friends on and off screen.


Dinah Washington

1924-1963
Queen Of The Blues

Dinah Washington was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and raised in Chicago. Washington grew up very poor and could never get over that mentality As a child she sang in church and also played the piano. Singing in church is where she learned about music.

At the age of 15 she won an amateur contest at Chicago's Regal Theater. Washington saw where she could make money singing in night clubs. Later she made her recording debut with Lionel Hampton's band. By the age of 22 she was a star.

Washington's personal life was full of ups and downs. She felt that she was unattractive and unloved. She was married seven times and had a number of lovers. During all of this she had two sons. She never wanted them to know what poor felt like, so she gave them everything she could. They were spoiled, like all mothers who want the best for their childern.

Washington was one of the most influential singers of the early 40's and 50's. She made her phrasing and tonal variations of gospel an inescapable part of popular music. Her original style paved the way for others. More often then not, the blues that she sang was close to her actual life.

In 1996, Dinah Washington was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame.



Dolores Huerta

b.1930

Latino Facts Twelve percent of the agricultural force is made up of Latinos.

Born in northern New Mexico in 1930, Huerta grew up in an activist family. Her father was a union organizer and state Assemblyman and her mother worked in the community. After moving to Stockton, California, Huerta attended college and became a teacher, but subsequently left after seeing children of farmworkers come to school hungry and barefoot. She felt that she had to do more than teach.

In 1955, Huerta helped found the Community Service Organization to help improve the lives of the poor. It was here that she met César Chávez. Together they left the CSO and formed the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers Union (UFW).

Huerta negotiated the first UFW labor contract with the Schenly Wine Company in 1966, thus becoming the first laborers and Anglos businessmen. Organizing some of the largest boycotts in the history of the nation, Huerta, Chávez and the UFW garnered national attention.

In 1968, Huerta organized voter registration and stumped for Robert F. Kennedy's presidential election. With her help Latinos voted as never before and helped Kennedy win the California Democratic Presidential Primary.

In 1975 Huerta led a boycott of grapes, lettuce and Gallo wines which eventually led to the California legislature to grant farmworkers the right to collectively organize and bargain with the passage of the Agricultural Relations Act. Throughout her organizing efforts, protests and arrests, Huerta still found time to be a single mother to 11 children and instill in them and others around her with the desire and determination to care for her fellow human beings and work for their betterment.



Dorothy Dandridge

1922-1965
A Hollywood Star

Dorothy was born in Ohio in 1922. She started out touring with her sisters, performing for small audiences, but her mother had bigger dreams. She brought Dorothy and her sisters to Los Angeles. With talent and luck Dorothy made her way to the silver screen.

One of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, she was able to secure roles that were unheard of at that time for a Colored actress. One of her most famous performances was that of "Carmen Jones" in 1954, where she starred along with Harry Belafonte. In Otto Preminger's production of "Porgy and Bess" she was also hit.

One of the first Colored movie stars to grace the cover of Life Magazine, this actress and singer rose from poverty to fame. Even so, racism seemed to always cloud her happiness.



Edward R. Murrow

1908-1965
"Journalists don't have thick skins, they have no skins."

Edward R. Murrow's voice was a familiar one on radio during WWII. He reported the news from London as bombs rained down. From war-torn Europe he let Americans know how close to home the war was becoming. With his commanding voice and a cigarette in hand he came into our living rooms and informed us about the cutting edge news of the day.

Murrow was a pioneer in the new medium of television and he made it look easy. With style and wit he took to the air on CBS. He had a style that is still copied today by young journalists.

During the McCarthy era he took on Senator Joseph McCarthy and won. "No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices", this is what Murrow was quoted as saying about McCarthy. With television he created standards that still hold today. On his show "Person to Person", he took us to the home of Marilyn Monroe and many other celebrities. Television was new and Murrow knew how to work it.

During the 50's Murrow was a television favorite. It mattered little what type of news show he was on, a great majority of viewers tuned in. Murrow is a TV icon to an entire generation of 'baby-boomer. He was just one of many news anchors and correspondents pioneers that helped paved a way for this new medium of TV.

Edward R. Murrow was born Egbert Roscoe Murrow in Greensboro, N.C. on April 25, 1908. He later changed his first name in college. Married to Janet H. Brewster, they had one son, Casey.



Emmett Till

1941-1955
America's Justice

Emmett Till's brutal murder in 1955 became a lightning rod for civil rights activists around the country. While visiting relatives in Mississippi, 14-year old Emmett acted on a dare from his Southern cousins and spoke to a White woman in a grocery store.

A few days later, two White men kidnapped him from his uncle's house, beat him, shot him in the head, and dumped his body in a river. The murderers were acquitted, although they later confessed to the crime.

Emmett's grief-struck mother recovered his body and held an open-casket funeral to show the world what they had done to her son. The story was covered extensively by both the Black and White media.



Eugene "Bull" Connor

1897-1973
"Negroes and Whites will not segregate together as long as I am Commissioner."

If the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960's had a defining conflict, it was epitomized by the clash of two strong personalities, each convinced that he was in the right of things and the other man represented the forces of darkness.

These two men, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Eugene "Bull" Connor, met in person in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, in protest marches that resulted in some of the most indelible images of the 1960s. Who can forget the fire hoses and police dogs, the bark being stripped from trees from the water pressure of the hoses? With his actions taken against the Freedom Riders and integrationists, Bull Connor became a international symbol for hard-line segregation and a synonym for prejudice and hated.

Despite a thirty-year career in Alabama public office in which he did a great deal of good for the state and the city of Birmingham, Bull Connor is forever etched in our minds as the caricature of a Southern redneck, fire hose in one hand and police dog leash in the other.

Born Theophilus Eugene Connor in Selma, Alabama in 1897, son of a railroad dispatcher, Connor had a nomadic childhood as his family followed his father's job transfers from state to state. A high school dropout, Connor learned the art of railroad telegraphy from his father and became a often-transferred railroad employee himself upon his marriage to Beara Levens in 1920.

A chance encounter at a "baseball matinee," a way for fans to follow games without being able to attend the game by attending a storefront broadcast studio and hearing an announcer re-create the game from telegraphed reports, brought Connor a new career. Subbing for the regular announcer for the baseball game led Connor to employment in Birmingham, Alabama in his own baseball matinee, as well as work for the BIRMINGHAM NEWS and local radio stations.

Asked to fill in for the regular radio announcer for a Birmingham Barons game, Connor became the radio voice of the Barons, winning popularity for his foghorn voice and his line of chatter, or "shooting the bull," which won him his life-long nickname.

Running for election to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1934 as a Jefferson County representative, Connor won his seat in the legislature without support from political machines. Connor's three-year term was highlighted by winning a fight for a civil service bill to replace the so-called "spoils" system of job appointments. After a good showing as Representative, Connor decided to stand for associate commissioner on the Birmingham City Council in 1937 and ran under the theme of "the people's candidate." Winning a position on the three-man commission handily, Connor was chosen to be Public Safety Commissioner, and made many changes in City Hall traditions to heal factionalism and fight crime.

Although considered a political progressive, Connor's opposition to integration showed early in his political career, and he took a hard line in enforcing the many segregation laws in force in Birmingham. He grabbed national headlines in 1938 by appearing at the meetings of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare and attempting to enforce segregated seating, a move which angered participants and caused First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, in attendance, to sit in the aisle between the black and white sections and refuse to move. Connor continued to win re-election to the Birmingham City Commission throughout the 1940's and went on to suffer a nasty scandal in 1951 in which he was convicted of extramarital intercourse upon being discovered in a hotel room with his secretary, a conviction which Connor contended was a frame-up and which was overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court. A Citizen's Committee made an unfavorable report on Connor's Police Department management, and this coupled with impeachment proceedings, declared a mistrial twice, caused Connor to decide not to run for re-election in 1953. Retiring to run a family gas station for three years, Connor again stood for election to the Birmingham City Commission in 1956, as Commissioner of Public Improvement, but lost in the run-off, probably due to his lack of knowledge of streets and sanitation and the voter's inability to see him as other than Police Commissioner. Running again for Public Safety Commission in 1957, Connor won by an extremely narrow margin of 103 votes. Connor continued his hard-line anti-integration stand in his new term in office, believing that civil rights activists were nothing more than "outside agitators" and meant only harm to the city. For the remainder of the decade of the 50's, the turmoil that brought Birmingham the nickname of "Bombingham" for the many "unsolved" bomb attacks against civil rights activists and other blacks, would be fueled by Connor's failure to support any real prosecution of suspects. He continued to grab headlines in conflicts with civil rights activists over lunch-counter sit-ins, bus desegregation and school integration. He attributed his landslide re-election in 1961 to his stance, feeling that his enforcement of segregation statutes had kept Birmingham free of major race riots and violence. Two weeks later, that would begin to change. Mother's Day, 1961 was the scene of mob violence in Anniston, Alabama as well as Birmingham as rioters attacked buses bearing the Freedom Riders, a group of activists engaged in protests against segregation of Southern bus systems. A group of nearly 60 white men attacked Freedom Riders at Birmingham's Trailways station, leaving nine passengers with injuries which required hospital treatment. Lack of police presence, which Connor blamed on the many officers off for the holiday, caused even the Birmingham News to question Connor's handling of the incident. A question of whether Connor knew of the planned attack and deliberately withheld police support for the Freedom Riders has never been fully resolved in court. Another incident occurred a few days later in which Freedom Riders were removed from the bus and escorted out of town by Connor and police officers. Connor was named in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Robert Kennedy for violation of the civil liberties of the Freedom Riders in the wake of the incidents, but was discharged from consideration after two days of testimony. In further fallout from the incidents, Connor's white voter support began to erode in the shock resulting from the attacks. Fearful that economic development of Birmingham was being irreparably harmed by the media coverage of the racial turmoil, some white civic leaders began a drive to change Birmingham's form of city government from three-man commission to mayor and council, in hopes of breaking what they saw as Connor's stranglehold of control of the city. Bull Connor's era of segregation at any cost was about to come to an end, but worse incidents and international publicity were still to come. In a special election called on November 6, 1962 Birmingham voters rejected the politics of the past by a two-thousand vote margin. Connor ran for Mayor of Birmingham in 1963, losing to Albert Boutwell by 8000 votes. Connor remained in office, however, due to laws dealing with changes of government and incumbent terms. When Boutwell took office in April, 1963, the Commission refused to give up their office pending legal resolution of the court case over the change of civic government. At this time, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was in the Birmingham City Jail following his arrest at a civil rights demonstration in Birmingham. Following criticism of his actions by liberal white ministers, who felt the demonstrations should have been postponed to allow the new government a change to make changes, King wrote a response that became famous as his "Letter from the Birmingham Jail." Connor's handling of King's arrest and further incidents in May, including the notorious use of fire hoses and police dogs against demonstrators, and other incidents of violence and rioting garnered national television coverage and indelibly marked Connor as the epitome of Southern racism. But, even as television reporters converged on Birmingham, Connor's long tenure as Commission was coming to a close. A court decision in late May of 1963 ruled that Birmingham's change of city government was legal and Connor was ordered to vacate his office. Bull Connor ran for and was elected Alabama's Public Service Commission President in 1964. Although suffering a crippling stroke in 1966 which left him wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life, Connor ran for reelection to the PSC in 1968, winning handily, but lost by a large margin in 1972, in part due to the growing number of black Alabama registered voters. Retiring home to Birmingham, Bull Connor, arch segregationist, suffered a second stroke in February 1973, lingering in intensive care for twelve days before passing away on March 10, 1973 at the age of seventy-five. John Kennedy once said that Bull Connor did as much for the cause of civil rights as Abraham Lincoln. Certainly the television images from Birmingham during the 1960s and the man who was responsible for them helped Dr. King and other activists publicize their cause more than a thousand speeches could have done.


Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

b.1926
"History will absolve me!"

Fidel Castro, communist revolutionary and dictator of Cuba, was born on the Las Manacas sugar plantation, a 26,000-acre estate. Growing up as a wealthy plantation owner's son, he noticed the differences between the haves and the have nots. He wore shoes to school, for example, while most of the other students went barefoot.

In opposition to the dictatorship of Batista, Fidel Castro organized a revolutionary army to take over power and better the lot of his country. Castro became Dictator of Cuba and is still holding on to that office for over the last 40 years.

Cuba supported Black Americans during the civil rights movement. During the 1960's young Black Americans went to Cuba to cut sugar cane and learn about socialism. At this time Cuba is economically depressed, and Castro remains Cuba's Dictator.



James A. Baldwin

1924-1987
It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless

James Baldwin was born in Harlem on August 2, 1924.He was named James Arthur Jones at birth. Baldwin never knew his real father, his mother married David Baldwin, a Baptist preacher from New Orleans and together they would have six children.

Baldwin started some writng in junior high school. In 1938 he had a religious experience and for three years he preached at the Fireside Pentecostal Assembly. After high school he worked at a number of jobs. It was in Greenwich Village that he met Richard Wright who helped him with his writing career

From the mid-forties unitl the time of his death he was a writer. In 1953 he wrote his first book, "Go Tell It On The Mountain" about his experiences as a young preacher. The book was well received. It was about this time that Baldwin moved to Paris, where he would call home.

Baldwin became part of the civil rights movement in the the late 1950's, and wrote "Nobody Knows My Name," addressing race relations in the US. During the 1950’s and 60’s, his voice was very important literary circles.



Jay Silverheels

1919-1980
Native American Actor

Harold J. Smith was born on the Six Nations Indian Reservation in Brantford, Ontario, Canada May 26, 1919. Jay was a full bloodied Mohawk, son of a Chief. He was one of seven children. He as a outstanding athlete, he was a wrestler, Golden Glove Boxer and he was a member of Canada's National Lacrosse team. (He did not officially change his name until 1971).

In 1938 he came to the US to play in a tournament. He was spotted by comedian Joe E. Brown and with Brown's help he joined the Actor's Guild. He soon found work as an extra. He worked in over 30 movies, but it would be his role as Tonto that would make him a baby-boomer icon. With the Lone Ranger, he became one of America's favorite son's. As the faithful companion of the Lone Ranger, they fought for truth and justice in the American west.

On radio Silverheels had played as a servant to the Lone Ranger, however when he appeared as Tonto on televison, he was treated as a equal. In real life, Clayton Moore (Lone Ranger) and Silverheels became great friends and their friendship extended beyond the studio.

Silverheels had a lot of concerns about how Hollywood portrayed native Americans. He formed the Indian Actor's Workshop and encouraged talented performers to study their craft.


John Wayne

1907-1979
All American Patriot

John Wayne for years represented on film what it was to be a man's man. Born Marion Michael Morrison in Winterset, Iowa May 26, 1907. Wayne's family moved to southern California when he was six years old. In school he was an A student, president of his senior class and a lettered athletic. Wayne received a full scholorship at USC to play football. It was his coach Howard Jones that got him a summer job as an assistant prop man on a set of John Ford. Wayne struck up a friendship with Ford and they became lifelong friends and the rest is Hollywood history.

Wayne was reknown for his western movies. With his deep love of country he went to portray numerous western heroes as well as many other roles over the course of his career. He stood 6'4", with a commanding voice to match, and on screen he was larger than life. He was the hero and the guy that always got the girl.

Boys at play would often imitate the 'Duke' as he was affectionately known. Always imitated, there are few baby boomers who have never seen a John Wayne movie. Wayne's love of country and patriotism was refected throughout his life.

During his life he received many awards. In 1998 he was honored with an Army RAH-66 Helicopter, to be named "The Duke". For 25 years he was an American icon on the big screen. People have summed up in many words who John Wayne was, however Elizabeth Taylor said it best when she said "He gave the whole world the image of what an American should be."


Jonas Salk

1914-1995
Conquering an Epidemic

Jonas Salk was Born in New York City, his parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants who wanted a better life for their children and encouraged them to work hard and get an education. Salk was the first member of his family to go to college. He first studied law and later changed it to medical science. While at New York University he was invited to spend a year doing infuenza research. Salk recieved his M.D. from New York University College of Medicine in 1939. He went on to a career in virus research, particularly the deadly polio virus.

Jonas Salk introduced the first successful polio vaccine, which reduced the incidence of polio by 95 percent between 1955 and 1961. Later in life, Jonas Salk contributed his talents to the study of the AIDS virus.



Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige

1906?-1982
Don't Look Back

Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige was born in Mobile, Alabama. He was the seventh child of twelve, and his family was poor. Instead of going to school, Paige would go fishing or looking for bottles to sell to help his family. At the age of 12 he got into trouble and was sent to reform school. This was where he started to play baseball. He was already known for how he could knock a bird out of the air with a rock.

His professional career started around 1926. It wasn't long before he became an attraction. Paige developed into one of baseball's most colorful players. He could fill a stadium with his pitching style and comical antics which turned him into a folk hero.

When Brooklyn Dodger's owner Branch Rickey set out to break the color barrier, his choices were narrowed to three players: Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, or Jackie Robinson. Although devastated by having Jackie Robinson chosen over him, Paige was eventually selected by the Cleveland Indians and became the first black pitcher in the majors in 1948.

Paige retired from baseball at about 59 years old, although no one really ever knew his actual age. He played baseball from 1926 to 1950. On August 9, 1971, Paige was the first player from the Negro Leagues elected to Coopertown's National Baseball Hall Of Fame.



Marian Anderson

1897-1993
My Lord What A Morning…

Anderson was born in Philidelphia, PA in 1897. She was the eldest of three children born to John and Anna Anderson. The family was poor and the family situation worsened when her father died when she was twelve. As a young child it was evident that Anderson had talent, she joined her church choir at six years old and taught herself to play piano. At Union Baptist Church she was known as the 'baby alto'.

With the help of many people, she was trained as a classical singer. It was said that a voice like hers came along only every one hundred years, she was one of the finest contraltos of her time . Marian Anderson made her debut in 1955 at the Metropolitan opera. She was the first Negro to perform with this company, breaking an important musical color barrier. Anderson was called "the voice of American Soul".

Anderson was active in civil rights and participated in the "March On Washington". She sang at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. Later, President Lyndon Johnson awarded her the American Medal of Honor for her courage.



Martin L. King, Jr.

1929-1968
"Free At Last"

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was brought up in a tightly-knit family. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother taught music. King excelled in school. At 15 years old, he graduated high school and attended Morehouse College. While at Morehouse he decided that he wanted to become a minister.

King as a young minister became active in the civil rights movement. He became known as a great speaker and pivotal figure in civil rights activism. King chose non-violence as his weapon of choice to fight racism. In 1964 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Sadly, in 1968 he was assassinated while assisting in a workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee.



Mary Bethune

1875-1955
Educator and Public Servant

Mary McLeod Bethune was born on July 10, 1875 in Mayesville, South Carolina. She was the fifteenth child of former slaves. Recognizing the need for a well-rounded education for Blacks, Mary Bethune was instrumental in founding the Daytona Literary and Industrial School For Training Negro Girls, which later became Bethune-Cookman College.

Bethune had an impact on women’s issues in her role as special assistant to the secretary of war, establishing the Women’s Army Corps in 1945. Bethune was important in establishing the role of Black women in the effort to participate fully and equally in "the building of an ideal country." She was active in the National Association of Colored Women and founded the National Council of Negro Women.



Matthew Henson

1866-1955
On Top of the World

Matthew Henson was born in Charles County, Maryland. Orphaned in his youth, Henson went to sea at the age of 12 as a cabin boy. He later met the explorer Robert E. Peary, who employed him on several expeditions. In 1909, Peary, Henson, and four Eskimos became the first men to reach the North Pole.

Henson's account of the journey, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, appeared in 1912. The following year, by order of President William Howard Taft, Henson was appointed a clerk in the US Customs House in New York City, a post he held until his retirement in 1936. Henson received the Congressional medal awarded all members of the Peary expedition in 1944.



Rafer Johnson

b.1934
One of the Greatest All-Around Track Athletes in History"

One of six children, Rafer grew up in Kingsburg, California. In school he excelled in sports and academics. After high school he attended UCLA.

In the 1960 Olympics, Rafer Johnson led the US squad into the stadium in Rome. Johnson won the gold medal for his amazing performance in the decathlon. After retiring from sports after the 1960 Olympics, Johnson went on to movie acting, sports casting and public service. He was elected to the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.



Ralph J. Bunche

1904-1971
Education in a sense, is where I began

Bunche was born in Detroit, MI, August 7, 1904.

1904-71, U.S. diplomat; b. Detroit. He was (1945) the first African American to be a division head in the U.S. Dept. of State.

With an education from UCLA and Harvard, Ralph Bunche went on to do worldwide research in colonial administration and race relations. During World War II he worked for the US War Department, Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency), and the State Department .

He was a key member of the United Nations and won the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his negotiation of an Arab-Israeli truce in Palestine in 1949, the first American Negro to receive the honor. Bunche was also awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award in 1963 by then President John F. Kennedy.



Rosa Parks

b. 1913
The Woman Who Changed A Nation

Parks was born in Tuskegee, Al., Febrary 3, 1913.

By refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a White man, Rosa Parks sparked the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama that ignited the civil rights movement. Parks was arrested for violating segregation laws.

Immediately meetings were held and it was decided that the people of Montgomery would strike. They would not use public transportation. They walked and organized car pools. For over a year this stike lasted until the courts decided that segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional.

Parks was an active member of the NAACP from 1943 to 1956, and continues to be active in other programs. Parks is often referred to as the "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement."



Roy Campanella

1921-1993
I never want to quit playing ball

Campy was born November 19, 1921 in Philadelphia, PA. He would grow up in Germantown and Nicetown neighborhoods. He quit school at 16 years old to play simi-pro baseball with the Baltimore Elite.

The son of an Italian immigrant father and an Negro mother, Roy Campanella rose up from the Negro Leagues to become a star catcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The first Negro catcher in Major League Baseball history and the first negro superstar. Campy won the National League's Most Valuable Player award three times.

A car crash cut his career short and left him a quadriplegic; but he went on to coach catchers for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Campanella played only nine years, yet, he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969, he was the second negro to receive that honor.



Sammy Davis, Jr.

1925-1990
He Did It All

Sammy Davis, Jr. was born into show business. His mother was a chorus girl and his father a lead dancer. Sammy was raised primarily by his grandmother and father. With his father and Will Mastin he was featured as the star of their act, "The Will Mastin Trio". They started out as a flash dancing team and added more to the act so that Sammy could use all his talents. People took notice of this young man with all his energy and talent. The Will Mastin Trio became headliners in Las Vegas and other places featuring young Sammy Davis, Jr.

Sammy was destined for stardom. During his rise he faced many challenges. There were too many times and places he could perform, but he could not stay in the hotels. Black people couldn't even go to the places he performed. Black performers would have to find lodgings in the Black areas of town and even in private homes. There were cities he worked that he had to have a permit to even be out in the white areas of town after certain hours.

Sammy Davis, Jr., along with some of his closest friends helped open doors that allowed Black people to enter the hotels and other venues in places like Las Vagas.

Sammy became part of a group of equally talented young men--the "Rat Pack"--which included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and a few others. The group of young men became legendary. They workd and played togather. The were the some of the most exciting playboys of the time. They all became lifelong friends.

Sammy donated a lot of time and money to charity. This superstar was the last of the great Black showmen of his time. Sammy was loved by many generations and will be well remembered for many years to come.



Senator Joseph McCarthy

1908-1957
"I Have Here In My Hand A List"

Joseph R. McCarthy came from a family Irish immagrants. They were farmers. Young Joseph also wanted to be a famer. Joe finished school at age 14 and went on to raise chickens on property given to him by his father. Joe became very ill and his chicken farm failed.

Joe returned to school and completed high school and then went on to college where he received a degree in law in 1935. Joe ran for a judgeship and won. He proceeded all the way to becoming a senator of Wisconsin.

In the late 40's and early 50's the Cold War and Communism were the great topics of the day. Joe exploited these two issues and that even helped him in his race to the senate. Along with J. Edgar Hoover, Joe became a top investigator in uncovering Communists in the US.

McCarthyism was to be later defined as a kind of 'Political Murder, Inc'. He single handedly ruined many lives. McCarthy created such a scare in Hollywood alone that people were afraid of associations they had been a part of for years.



Sugar Ray Robinson

1921-1989
Greatest Fighter Pound For Pound

Born in Detroit, Michigan as Walker Smith, this soft-spoken gladiator was a six-time world boxing champion, and is considered by many to have been the best fighter in history. Robinson started his professional career in 1940, his first pro fight was with Joe Echeverria, that fight ended in the second round.

Sugar Ray Robinson continued to fight until late 1965. He finally retired when he was 44 years old. In 201 professional bouts, he had 109 knockouts and suffered only 19 defeats, most of them when he was past 40.

Robinson's outstanding ability and flamboyant personality made him a hero of boxing fans throughout the world. He retired from boxing more than once. During one of his retirements he entertained audiences around the US, dancing. Dancing couldn't pay the bills and it was back into the ring. He also appeared on television and in motion pictures, and formed a youth foundation in 1969. When Robinson died it was stated that he had been the best fighter pound for pound.



| overview | people | events | home |

Copyright 1997-2000, Iacta LLC - All Rights Reserved
Go to Net4TV - EMAIL