The First black Masonic Lodge
The First black Masonic Lodge was founded at Prince Hall, Boston, in 1787. It was named after Prince Hall, who is recognized as the Father of Black Masonry in the United States. He made it possible for African Americans to also be recognized and enjoy all privileges of Free and Accepted Masonry.
Many rumors of the birth of Prince Hall have arisen. Few records and papers have been found of him either in Barbados where it was rumored that he was born, but no record of birth, by church or state, has been found there, and none in Boston. All 11 countries of the day were searched and churches with baptismal records were examined without a find of the name of Prince Hall. (more…)
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
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.” (more…)
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.