Happy Valentines Day! Black History Birthday Roll Call February 14 th Reach…Teach…Learn…Discern…Go…Grow…
Frederick Douglass Born Valentines Day 1817 He was a Black abolitionist, orator, and writer, who escaped slavery and urged other Blacks to do likewise before and during the American Civil War. From Tuckahoe, Maryland, he was the son of a slave. He escaped slavery in 1838 by reaching New Bedford, Massachusetts. Following an antislavery convention in 1841, he became an agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. His work for the Underground Railroad did much to further the cause of the abolitionists and made his name a symbol of freedom. In 1845 Douglass went to England to escape the danger of Fugitive Slave Laws. His lectures on the question of slavery in the United States prompted many to raise funds to purchase his freedom. After returning to the United States in 1847, Douglass became the leader of the Underground Railroad in Rochester, New York. There he established the abolitionist newspaper North Star. During the presidential election of 1860 Douglass campaigned for Abraham Lincoln. Following the outbreak of the American Civil War, he helped raise two regiments of Black soldiers. After the war, Douglass fought for enactment of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. He later served in governmental positions, including U.S. minister to Haiti. Frederick Douglass died in 1895 in Washington D.C.
Gregory Hines Born Valentines Day 1946 He was an African-American tap dancer, choreographer, actor, singer, and director. From New York City he became involved in show business as a toddler. Hines was the brother of actor/dancer Maurice Hines. When he was two, his father had him in a dance act with his older brothers. Hines polished his dancing skills with master tap dancer Henry Le Tang. He was five when his father teamed Gregory with his big brother, Jake, to form the Hines Kids and later the Hines Brothers. The siblings spent much of their early careers dancing at the Apollo Theater and learned from such famed fellow performers as the Nicholas Brothers and Sandman Sims. Hines made his feature-film debut in The History of the World, Pt. I. He proved himself a versatile actor and starred in musical dramas (The Cotton Club and White Nights), straight dramas (The Preacher's Wife), comedy (Renaissance Man), sci-fi horror (Wolfen), and action films (Running Scared). In 1994, Hines directed Bleeding Hearts. Musically he released an album, simply titled Gregory Hines, in 1987. Though short-lived, he was seen on TV’s Will and Grace. In addition, he did voice work for the Blues Clues Adventure, Big Blue's Treasure Hunt and the children's series Little Bill. Hines also appeared in Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000), and Bojangles (2001), in which he portrayed the title role of legendary dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. On August 9, 2003, Gregory Hines died of cancer in Los Angeles. He was 57. The lights of Broadway were dimmed in his honor.
Moneta Sleet Born Valentines Day 1926 He was an African-American photographer. From Owensboro, KY, he began taking photographs after his parents gave an old box camera. After graduating from high school, Sleet attended Kentucky State College and later he relocated to New York City. It was there that he earned a M.A. in journalism from NYU. In 1955, Sleet joined the staff at Ebony Magazine, covering many prominent moments of the Civil Rights Movement, the Nobel Peace Prize, and other world events. Sleets’ photos have been exhibited in a number of museums and libraries. In 1969, he was the first Black to receive a Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his photo of Coretta Scott King at the funeral of her husband Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He wrote Special Moments in African American History: The photographs of Moneta Sleet, Jr. 1955-1996, which was published in 1999. Moneta Sleet died on September 30, 1996 in New York City.
Richard Allen Born Valentines Day 1760 He was a Black religious leader, founder and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Allen was born a slave in Philadelphia, PA. He grew up during the American Revolution; an era characterized by the advocacy of individual rights, the growth of denominational Christianity, and the inception of the antislavery movement. Around 1768, Allen's owner, a Philadelphia lawyer named Benjamin Chew, sold him, his three siblings, and his parents to Stokely Sturgis, a plantation owner in Delaware. With the permission of Sturgis, Allen began to attend Methodist meetings, and around 1777 he was converted to Methodism. Because Allen believed enslaved and free Black Americans could be best served through education and religious instruction, he opposed organizations that advocated the migration of Black Americans to Africa. Although the AME Church initiated missionary efforts in such countries as Haiti and Canada during the late 1820s, Allen kept the church focused on elevating Black Americans, especially those in the South. As he said, "We will never separate ourselves voluntarily from the slave population in this country; they are our brethren and we feel there is more virtue in suffering privations with them than fancied advantage for a season." The AME Church proliferated in the South after the Civil War and today has a membership of more than 1.2 million.
Charlotta Bass Born Valentines Day 1874 She was an African-American newspaper publisher, editor, and civil rights activist. Bass was born in Sumter, South Carolina, but she relocated to California for health reasons. Charlotta Bass took over control of The California Eagle in 1912 and served as its publisher until she retired in 1951. She and her husband Joseph Bass, who had served as editor of the Topeka and Montana Plain Dealer used The Eagle to push for reforms. They combated such issues as the derogatory images rampant in D.W. Griffith's film Birth of A Nation; Los Angeles' discriminatory hiring practices; the Ku Klux Klan; police brutality; and restrictive housing covenants. Bass' life was threatened on numerous occasions. She was branded a communist, and the FBI placed her under surveillance on the charge that her paper was disloyal. However, this never deterred her or The California Eagle from seeking civil and political rights for African-Americans and the disadvantaged. In 1952 she became the first African-American woman to run for national office as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Progressive Party. She died in 1969.
Oliver Harrington Born Valentines Day 1913 He was an African- American cartoonist. Ollie Harrington was from Valhalla, NY and began his interest in cartooning as a teenager when he drew caricatures of a teacher he considered a bigot. He was a graduate of Yale University and also studied at The National Academy of Design. He originated a number of comic strips including Dark Laughter. His most famous cartoon series, a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of a Harlem-born protagonist, Bootsie was created in 1936. This was while he worked as a temporary cartoonist at The Amsterdam News in New York City. Bootsie was a Black man Harrington described as “ a jolly, rather well-fed but soulful character.” The cartoon also appeared in the many other newspapers including The Pittsburgh Courier; it was the first Black comic strip to receive national recognition. Harrington, well aware of the double standard in how Black people were dealt with in the United States, rarely turned the other cheek or bit his tongue. His criticism of the apathy about legislation regarding lynching came under questioning from the FBI during the McCarthy era and eventually Harrington left the United States. He lived in Paris for some years while writing for various American periodicals. Here he was part of a group of Black American expatriates, which included authors Richard Wright and Chester Himes. In later years, Harrington's cartoons satirized various issues including the Vietnam War, Watergate, the government, and social conditions in the U.S. Harrington moved to East Berlin in 1961 where he lived until his death in 1995.
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