Black History

Black History

Otis Redding

Otis Redding

Born in 1941, Otis Redding was the ultimate R&B singer.His sound was deeply rooted in gospel and country blues, but he tempered it with the mellower pop sound of Sam Cooke. He first became interested in singing by participating in church choirs. He sang at clubs and dances, joining a band in 1959.

He made had his first recording with that band in 1960 and at the end of the session he had the chance to cut two of his own songs. His soulful sound caught the ear of the president of Stax Records who signed him to a subsidiary label, Volt. Over the next two years he released several hits, and became an R&B star, but he never achieved overwhelming fame.

Sadly, it was only after his sudden and tragic death in a plane crash at the age of 26 in 1967, that he became the legendary star that he is now. Volt released “Dock of The Bay” after his death and it was Otis’s biggest record.

Operation PUSH

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is the result of a merger between Operation PUSH and the Rainbow Coalition. Established in 1971 by Rev. Jackson, People United to Save Humanity (later changed from “Save” to “Serve”)–PUSH, was an organization dedicated to improving the economic conditions of black communities across the United States. In the 1970’s, PUSH expanded into areas of social and political development using direct action campaigns, a weekly radio broadcast, and awards that honored prominent blacks in the U.S. and abroad. Through Operation PUSH, Rev. Jackson established a platform from which to protect black homeowners, workers and businesses.  Continue reading

Bebop Fairy Tales by Mark Ruffin

“Mark Ruffin’s Bebop Fairy Tales captures the heart and soul of the American experience during the 20th century with humor, wit and accuracy, just like the solos of the jazz musicians he uses as his artistic muse. It’s the best kind of history: poetic, noetic and hip.”
– Ben Sidran, Musician, Broadcaster, Author of “The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma”.

“The world needs Mark Ruffin’s Bebop Fairy Tales now more than ever. When he writes, The rhythm of the game allows her to interact with her husband without disturbing his enjoyment, I thought he was channeling me and how I learned to love baseball from Dexter Gordon. Baseball, Bebop, the drama of life, all together here. Yes, Bebop is the music of the future and these fairy tales teach us the truth.”
– Maxine Gordon, Author of “Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon”

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Charles Richard Drew

Illustration of Drew by Charles Alston in the collection of the National Archives

Charles Richard Drew (3 June 1904 – 1 April 1950) was an American physician, surgeon and medical researcher. He researched in the field of blood transfusions, developing improved techniques for blood storage, and applied his expert knowledge to developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II. This allowed medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces.

The research and development aspect of his blood storage work is disputed. As the most prominent African-American in the field, Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, an action which cost him his job. In 1943, Drew’s distinction in his profession was recognized when he became the first black surgeon selected to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery.

Drew’s athletic achievements helped win him a scholarship to Amherst College in Massachusetts and he graduated in 1926. An outstanding athlete at Amherst, Drew also joined Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Continue reading

J Rosamond Johnson

J Rosamond Jonhson

John Rosamond Johnson, born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1874, was the youngest of the three Johnson children. Although his first name was John, he was called Rosamond by his family and friends. Professionally, he referred to himself as J. Rosamond Johnson.

Rosamond’s special talent was music. He began piano lessons with his mother when he was 4 years old. After graduating from the Stanton Public school in 1891, he went to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he studied piano, organ, composition, and voice. He also studied music in London. Continue reading

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  • Edith Sampson
  • Roy Wilkins
  • Julian Bond
  • Mary Church Terrell
  • Homer A. Plessy
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  • Leontyne Price
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