Smooth. Sophisticated. Sultry. Roberta Flack was born on February 10, 1937. She graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor's in music. Ms. Flack was discovered singing and playing jazz in a Washington nightclub by pianist Les McCann, who recommended her talents to Atlantic Records. She gave us classics like "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" from her first LP, "Where Is the Love" which featured Howard classmate Donny Hathaway, and "Killing Me Softly With His Song". Press Play!
On February 7, 1926, Carter G. Woodson established the first Negro History Week, which expanded in the 1960s to Black History Month.
Commonly referred to as the "Father of Black History", Woodson attended the University of Chicago, where he received bachelor's and master's degrees, and Harvard University, where he became the second black to receive a doctorate in history.
Woodson believed that you look back in order to look forward. It was his faith that "the achievements of the Negro properly set forth will crown him as a factor in early human progress and a maker of modern civilization." He said, "No other single thing has done so much to dramatize the achievement of persons of African blood." And we thank him for it.
Carter G. Woodson died at the age of 74 on April 3, 1950.
Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913. She is most remembered for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. If only she knew the effect that would have on race relations in America for years to come!
In 1955, Ms. Parks was arrested, jailed, and fined $14, but what she did helped catapult the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, and rid the South of separation between blacks and whites.
The bus incident also brought about the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association. Led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the group organized the Montgomery bus boycott, and it was because of this that the U.S. government outlawed separation by race on public transportation.
In 1979, Ms. Parks was awarded the Springarn Medal by the NAACP, received the Congressional Gold Medal from United States President Bill Clinton in 1999, and years later was made an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated. And this was just a FEW of her accolades!
Thank you Soror Rosa, for all your efforts and contributions!
On February, 3, 1870, the 15th Amendment was passed, giving African-Americans the right to vote. Although the 15th Amendment did not address any of these stipulations, many states, North and South, required payment of poll taxes, property ownership, or literacy as a condition of voting.
What exactly does the 15th Amendmant state?
All I can think about is... YES WE CAN!
On February 2, 1815, Ernest Everett Just received the Spingarn Medal for his work in cell division and fertilization. This was the very first Spingarn Medal awarded... EVER!
Born in 1883, E.E. Just was a pioneering biologist and academic. Just graduated from my alma mater, Dartmouth College (magna cum laude might I add), then moved to Washington D.C. to teach at Howard University. He soon became head of the biology and zoology departments there, and in 1916, earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago.
Let's not forget that on November 17, 1911, Just assisted three Howard students (Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper, and Frank Coleman), in founding Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. Shout out to all my fellow Greeks!
E.E. Just died in 1941, shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
On February 1, 1902, one of the greatest all-around literary artists was born. Langston Hughes. Playwright, novelist, poet, short story writer - the man did it all! I own a HUGE anthology of Langston Hughes' poems and I'll say that he's one of the most dynamic writers I have ever come across. One of my favorites from Mr. Hughes would have to be Dream Deferred.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
And in true MissLayDee(dot)com fashion, here are some visuals. Watch footage from 1976 of the extraordinary Nina Simone performing Langston Hughes' Backlash Blues. Press Play!
This was one of the last of Langston Hughes' protest poems before his death in 1967.
I'm a slave to my Macbook.