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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N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Company

Officers of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1911

Officers of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1911

Since its beginning in 1898, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company has grown to become one of the nation’s most widely-known and successful business institutions. It is the only insurance company domiciled in North Carolina with a charter dated before 1900. North Carolina Mutual is the oldest and largest African American life insurance company in the United States.

The Company’s seven organizers were men who were active in business, educational, medical and civic life of the Durham community. An early financial crisis tested their resolve and the company was reorganized in 1900 with only John Merrick and Dr. Aaron M. Moore remaining. Charles C. Spaulding was named General Manager, under whose direction the company grew and achieved national prominence.  Continue reading

Hampton Institute

Mary Smith Peake

The year was 1861. The American Civil War had shortly begun and the Union Army held control of Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. In May of that year, Union Major General Benjamin Butler decreed that any escaping slaves reaching Union lines would be considered “contraband of war” and would not be returned to bondage. This resulted in waves of enslaved people rushing to the fort in search of freedom. A camp to house the newly freed slaves was built several miles outside the protective walls of Fort Monroe. It was named “The Grand Contraband Camp” and functioned as the United States’ first self-contained African American community.

In order to provide the masses of refugees some kind of education, Mary Peake, a free Negro, was asked to teach, even though an 1831 Virginia law forbid the education of slaves, free blacks and mulattos. She held her first class, which consisted of about twenty students, on September 17, 1861 under a simple oak tree. This tree would later be known as the Emancipation Oak and would become the site of the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Today, the Emancipation Oak still stands on the Hampton University campus as a lasting symbol of the promise of education for all, even in the face of adversity.

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

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