Today in Black History- February 10th, 2014
- On this day in 1992, Alex Haley dies. Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was an American writer. He is best known as the author of the 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family and the co-author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Roots, which traces his ancestry back to Africa and covers seven American generations as they are taken slaves to the United States. The book was adapted to television series, and woke up an interest in genealogy, particularly among African-Americans. Haley himself commented that the book was not so much history as a study of myth-making. “What Roots gets at in whatever form, is that it touches the pulse of how alike we human beings are when you get down to the bottom, beneath these man-imposed differences
- On this day in 1967, the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect. That amendment provided that in the case of a vice president’s become president, the new president would name a new vice president, subject to confirmation by a majority vote of both houses of Congress.
- On this day in 1966, Andrew Brimmer is appointed to the Federal Reserve Board. Andrew Felton Brimmer was a noted United States economist, academic, and business leader who was the first African American to have served as a governor of the Federal Reserve System and was appointed by President Johnson.
- On this day in 1964, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. After 12 days of debate and voting on 125 amendments, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by a vote of 290-130. The bill prohibited any state or local government or public facility from denying access to anyone because of race or ethnic origin. It further gave the U.S. Attorney General the power to bring school desegregation law suits. The bill allowed the federal government the power to bring school desegregation law suits and to cut off federal funds to companies or states who discriminated. It forbade labor organizations or interstate commercial companies from discriminating against workers due to race or ethnic origins. Lastly, the federal government could compile records of denial of voting rights. After passage in the House, the bill went to the Senate, which after 83 days of debate passed a similar package on June 19 by a vote of 73 to 27. President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation on July 2. Later, future Georgia governor Lester Maddox would become the first person prosecuted under the Civil Rights Act.
- On this day in 1946. Jackie Robinson married Rachel Isum. Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson was an American baseball player who became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. As the first major league team to play a black man since the 1880s, the Dodgers ended racial segregation that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues for six decades. The example of Robinson’s character and unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation, which then marked many other aspects of American life, and contributed significantly to the Civil Rights Movement.
His wife, Rachel Robinson (born Rachel Annetta Isum), is a former nurse and the widow of baseball player Jackie Robinson. She was born in Los Angeles, and attended the University of California, Los Angeles. There, she met Jackie in 1941, and they married in 1946, the year before Robinson broke into the big leagues. Their son, Jackie Robinson, Jr., was born in November 1946. The Robinsons would later have a daughter, Sharon, and another son, David.
- On this day in 1940, Roberta Flack was born in Asheville, North Carolina. Roberta Cleopatra Flack ( is an American singer, and musician who is notable for jazz, Pop, R&B, and folk music. She is best known for her classic #1 singles “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, “Killing Me Softly with His Song”, and “Feel Like Makin’ Love”; and for “Where Is the Love” and “The Closer I Get to You”, two of her many duets with the late Donny Hathaway. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” won the 1973 Grammy Record of the Year and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” won the same award at the Grammy Awards of 1974. She shares the distinction with U2 as the only artists to win the award in consecutive years.
- On this day in 1927, Leontyne Price was born in Wilberforce, Ohio.Mary Violet Leontyne Price (born February 10, 1927) is an American soprano. Born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi, she rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s, and was one of the first African Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera. One critic characterized Price’s voice as “vibrant”, “soaring” and “a Price beyond pearls”, as well as “genuinely buttery, carefully produced but firmly under control”, with phrases that “took on a seductive sinuousness.” Time magazine called her voice “Rich, supple and shining, it was in its prime capable of effortlessly soaring from a smoky mezzo to the pure soprano gold of a perfectly spun high C.”A lirico spinto (Italian for “pushed lyric”) soprano, she was considered especially well suited to the roles of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini, as well as several in operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.After her retirement from the opera stage in 1985, she continued to appear in recitals and orchestral concerts for another 12 years.Among her many honors are the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964), the Spingarn Medal (1965), the Kennedy Center Honors (1980), the National Medal of Arts (1985), numerous honorary degrees, and nineteen Grammy Awards, 13 for operatic or song recitals, five for full operas, and a special Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989, more than any other classical singer. In October 2008, she was one of the recipients of the first Opera Honors given by the National Endowment for the Arts.
- On this day in 1907, Grace Towns Hamilton was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Grace Towns Hamilton was the first African-American woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1965. As executive director of the Atlanta Urban League from 1943 to 1960, Hamilton was involved in issues of housing, health care, schools and voter registration within the black community. She was 1964 co-founder of the bi-racial Partners for Progress to help government and the private sector effect compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1973, Hamilton became a principal architect for the revision of the Atlanta City Charter. She was advisor to the United States Civil Rights Commission from 1985 to 1987.She received her undergraduate degree from hometown Atlanta University, before completing her master’s degree at Ohio State Univesity. She held teaching positions at the Atlanta School of Social Work, Clark College, and LeMoyne College in Memphis, while maintaining an active interest in the civil rights movement. She served in Georgia House of Representatives until 1984. Today, a chair in the Emory University political science department is named in her honor.
- On this day in 1868, Conservatives, aided by military forces, seized convention hall and established effective control over Reconstruction process in Florida. Republican conservatives drafted new constitution which concentrated political power in hands of governor and limited the impact of the Black vote.
- On this day in 1854, Joseph Charles Price was born. Joseph Charles Price, black educator, orator, and civil rights leader, was born in Elizabeth City to a free mother, Emily Pailin, and a slave father, Charles Dozier. When Dozier, a ship’s carpenter, was sold and sent to Baltimore, Emily married David Price, whose surname Joseph took. During the Civil War, they moved to New Bern, which quickly became a haven for free blacks when it was occupied by Federal troops. In 1863 his mother enrolled him in St. Andrew’s School, which had just been opened by James Walter Hood, the first black missionary to the South and later the bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church. Price showed such promise as a student at this and other schools that in 1871 he was offered a position as principal of a black school in Wilson. He taught there until 1873, when he resumed his own education at Shaw University in Raleigh with the intention of becoming a lawyer. But he soon changed his mind and transferred to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania to study for the ministry in the A.M.E. Zion Church. He was graduated in 1879 and spent another two years at its theological seminary. During this period, he married Jennie Smallwood, a New Bern resident he had known since childhood. They were the parents of five children.
- On this day in 1787, Georgia’s House of Assembly named William Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, Georgie Walton, William Houston, and Nathaniel Pendleton as Georgia’s commissioners to the Philadelphia constitutional convention.