Autherine Lucy Foster

Autherine Lucy Foster

Autherine Lucy Foster

Autherine Juanita Lucy was the first black student to attend the University of Alabama, in 1956. She was born on October 5, 1929 in Shiloh, Alabama and graduated from Linden Academy in 1947. She went on to attend Selma University in Selma, and the all-black Miles College in Fairfield – where she graduated with a BA in English in 1952.

Later in 1952, at the encouragement of and along with a Miles classmate, Pollie Ann Myers, she decided to attend the University of Alabama as a graduate student but, knowing that admission would be difficult due to the University’s admission policies, she and Myers approached the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for help. Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley, and Arthur Shores were assigned to be their attorneys. While they started preparing her case, she worked as a secretary. Court action began in July 1953.  Continue reading

Father Patrick Francis Healy

Father Patrick Francis Healy

Father Patrick Francis Healy

Patrick Francis Healy (February 27, 1830 – January 10, 1910) was the 29th President of Georgetown University known for expanding the school following the American Civil War. He was accepted as and identified as Irish-American. Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed during Healy’s tenure and is named after him.

In the 1960s the history of Healy’s mixed-race ancestry became more widely known, and he was recognized as the first American of African ancestry to earn a PhD; the first to become a Jesuit priest; and the first to be president of a predominantly white college.

Henry Blair

Henry Blair Seed planter

Henry Blair Seed planter

10-14-1834 marks one of the first patents filed by a Black person in America.

Henry Blair of Montgomery County, MD, received his first patent on October 14, 1834, for his invention of the corn seed planter, which allowed farmers to plant their corn much faster and with much less labor. The machine also helped with weed control. He later received another patent in 1836 for the invention of the cotton planter. The cotton planter was very similar to the seed planter in the way that it was put together.

Blair was not an educated man; he could not read or write. At the time that he filed his patent applications he had to sign them with an “x� because he was unable to write his name. Blair is the only person in the United States Patent Office records to be identified as a “colored man.� No other inventor is identified by his or her race. Henry Blair died in 1860.

Sonny Boy Williamson II

Sonny Boy Williamson II

Sonny Boy Williamson II

Alex Miller (December 5, 1912 – May 25, 1965), known professionally as Sonny Boy Williamson, was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter, from Mississippi. He is acknowledged as one of the most charismatic and influential blues musicians, with considerable prowess on the harmonica and creative songwriting skills. He recorded successfully in the 1950s and 1960s, and had a direct influence on later blues and rock performers.

His head stone found in or near Tutwiler, Mississippi, lists his name as Aleck Miller, his birth date as March 11, 1908 and his date of death as June 23, 1965.

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sonny Boy Williamson

Born John Lee Williamson in Jackson, Tennessee. One of the founding members of the post-War Chicago blues scene, Sonny Boy Williamson did more to popularize the harmonica than any of his contemporaries. His musical and geographical migration from the deep South up the Mississippi to Chicago exemplifies his rise in popularity. Williamson never realized his full potential as a musician, as he was tragically murdered at the peak of his career.

He taught himself to play harmonica as a teenager and by his late teens was touring the Depression-era South, playing with the likes of Big Joe Williams and Robert Nighthawk. With his masterful harp (harmonica) playing and country-blues sound, Williamson fused a new band format with the harmonica as lead instrument. Continue reading

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  • Alexander Miles
  • E. Franklin Frazier
  • John W Cromwell
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