Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller

Fats Waller

Fats Waller

Born May 21, 1904, in New York City, Fats Waller became a professional pianist at 15, working in cabarets and theatres, and soon became deeply influenced by James P. Johnson, the founder of the stride school of jazz piano. Waller’s innovations to the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano.

By the late 1920s he was also an established songwriter whose work often appeared in Broadway revues. From 1934 on he made hundreds of recordings with his own small band. His best-known compositions, “Ain’t Misbehavin'” and “Honeysuckle Rose”, were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame posthumously, in 1984 and 1999.  Continue reading

Lonnie Johnson

Lonnie George Johnson

Lonnie George Johnson

Johnson holds over 20 patents and created the popular toy, the Super Soaker water gun that has grossed over a million dollars in retail sales and was the top selling toy in the United States in 1991 and 1992. Johnson holds a B.S in Mechanical Engineering and a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Tuskegee University.

In 1989 Johnson formed his own engineering firm and licensed the Super Soaker water gun to Larami Corporation. Two years later the Super Soaker generated over $200 million in retail sales and became the best selling toy in America.  Continue reading

Peabody Education Fund

Peabody Education Fund

Peabody Education Fund

Founded of necessity due to damage caused largely by the American Civil War, the Peabody Education Fund was established by George Peabody in 1867 for the purpose of promoting “intellectual, moral, and industrial education in the most destitute portion of the Southern States.” The gift of foundation consisted of securities to the value of $2,100,000, of which $1,100,000 were in Mississippi State bonds, afterward repudiated. In 1869 an additional $1,000,000 was given by Mr. Peabody, with $384,000 of Florida funds, also repudiated later. The main purpose of the fund was to aid elementary education by strengthening existing schools. Because it was restricted from founding new schools, it did not benefit freedmen in the South, as there were no established schools for blacks.

“The fund introduced a new type of benefaction in that it was left without restriction in the hands of the trustees to administer. Power to close the trust after thirty years was provided on condition that two-thirds of the fund be distributed to educational institutions in the Southern states.” Continue reading

Jane Cooke Wright

Jane Cooke Wright

Jane Cooke Wright

Jane Cooke Wright was born in New York City in 1919. Her father, Corinne Cooke Wright is well known for his cancer research, and being a civil rights leader and cancer researcher.

Jane graduated from Smith College in 1942. She graduated from New York Medical School in 1945. She interned and did her residency at Bellevue Hospital and Harlem Hospital respectfully from 1945 to 1947.

Wright worked with her father at the Harlem Cancer Research Foundation from 1947 to 1952. She researched cancer chemotherapy here. Jane was named director of Harlem Hospital Cancer Research Foundation in 1952. She became an instructor and director of cancer research at the New York Medical School. Wright was named associate dean of the school and became the first black physician to do so. Currently she is a professor emeritus at the school.

Juliette Derricotte

Juliette Derricotte

Juliette Derricotte

1897-1931. Juliette Dercotte was an African-American educator and political activist whose death after receiving racist treatment after a fatal car accident sparked outrage in the African-American community.

Raised in Athens, GA., Ms. Derricotte was educated in the public schools and at Talladega College. She was the first woman trustee of the College (appointed 1918). Ms. Derricotte was a renowned speaker, traveling across the U.S. in support of black colleges and education.

She was a delegate at the convention of the World’s Student Christian Federation in 1924 and 1928, where she represented all American college students. She served the YWCA as the National Student Secretary, resigning in 1929 to become Dean Of Women at Fisk University.

She was born the fifth of nine children of Isaac Derricotte and Laura Derricotte, a cobbler and a seamstress. As a child, she was hopeful of attending the local Institute and was crushed when her mother told her she would be unable to due to her color. This event helped shape her perception of the world and her desire to change people’s racial prejudices.  Continue reading

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