1920-1981 -Â Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Hazel Scott mastered the piano and other instruments at an early age. In 1924 her family moved to the United States, where Scott’s talents were rewarded with a six-year scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music.
Her critically acclaimed debut at New York’s Town Hall and her trumpet and piano performance in her mother’s All Woman Orchestra paved the way for her role as saxophonist with Louis Armstrong’s All Girl Band. In 1945, Scott married Adam Clayton Powell Jr., firebrand preacher, congressman, and civil rights revolutionary.
Acutely aware of the injustice facing African American entertainers, Scott refused to perform for segregated audiences in any of her venues. Her premier nightclub acts, noteworthy Broadway shows, and successful films led in 1950 to the first nationally syndicated musical variety television program hosted by an African American woman, The Hazel Scott Show.
Quincy Jones has had several very successful careers, largely leaving jazz altogether by the early ’70s to make his money out of producing pop, R&B and even rap records. His earlier years were much more significant to improvised music. He grew up in Seattle and his first important job was playing trumpet and arranging for Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra (1951-53), sitting in a trumpet section with Clifford Brown and Art Farmer.
During the 1950s he started freelancing as an arranger, writing memorable charts for sessions led by Oscar Pettiford, Brown, Farmer, Gigi Gryce, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Cannonball Adderley and Dinah Washington among others. He toured with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band (1956), started recording as a leader for ABC-Paramount in 1956 and worked in Paris (1957-58) for the Barclay label as an arranger and producer. In 1959 Jones toured Europe with his all-star big band which was originally put together to play for Harold Arlen’s show Free and Easy.Â Continue reading
George Herriman III was born in New Orleans in 1880 to Creole parents. The family moved to Los Angeles a few years later and worked with his father as a barber and then a baker where he drove the family bread truck, but his pranksterish attitude frequently irritated his parents, and after baking a mouse into a loaf of bread his parents implored him to perform his pranks elsewhere, and relieved him of his position at the bakery.
In 1900, Herriman emigrated to New York City and in 1901, his first cartoons began to appear in Judge magazine. Shortly thereafter he landed a job at Joseph Pulitzer’s “New York World” and began creating Sunday & daily comic strips for the fledgling medium. In 1906 he left Pulitzer to do a strip for the McClure syndicate, went back to Pulitzer & finally left Pulitzer again to work for William Randolph Hearst at the “New York Journal American”. It would be here that Herriman created his most famous & popular characters, the animal residents of Coconino County, USA.Â Continue reading
Muhammed Ali was born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky. From 1956-60, Clay fought as an amateur (winning 100 of 108 matches) before becoming the light-heavyweight gold medalist in the 1960 Olympics. Financed by a group of Louisville businessmen, he turned professional and by 1963 had won his first 19 fights. In 1964 he won the world heavyweight championship with a stunning defeat of Sonny Liston. Immediately afterwards, Clay announced that he was a Black Muslim and had changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
In 1967, after defending the championship nine times within two years, Ali was stripped of his title for refusing induction into the U.S. Army based on religious grounds. His action earned him both respect and anger from different quarters, but he did not box for three and one-half years until, in 1971, he lost to Joe Frazier.
A few months later, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed his right to object to military service on religious grounds and Ali regained the title in 1974 by knocking out George Foreman in Zaire, Africa. Ali defended his title 10 times before losing to Leon Spinks in 1978. When he defeated Spinks later that same year, he became the first boxer ever to regain the championship twice.Â Continue reading
After the demise of Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, it would take 14 years for African Americans to rally behind another bank. The first bank organized and operated by African Americans was Capital Savings Bank in Washington, D.C. Just four years after it opened, its deposits had grown to over $300,000.
Capital Savings Bank provided the capital essential to the growth of black businesses, capital that white-owned banks were unwilling to lend. The community proudly deposited its money in Capital Savings Bank. The public’s confidence in Capital was rock solid in the early days, enabling the bank to exert a strong, positive economic impact on the community it served. During the Panic of 1893, the bank rode out the tide and was able to honor every obligation on demand. Capital Savings Bank helped many African-American businesses and property owners until it closed in 1902.Â Continue reading