Archive for May 2011

Ronald McNair

May 31st, 2011 | By
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1950-1986  Ronald McNair was a physicist specializing in advanced laser technology, and an astronaut who flew on the fourth Space Shuttle mission in 1984. During his second flight two years later, he was one of seven astronauts tragically killed when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated. A Passion for Science McNair was born on October 21,
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Roy Wilkins

May 31st, 2011 | By
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1901-1981  Roy Wilkins rose through the ranks of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to become one of history’s most articulate and impassioned advocates for achieving equal rights through the legislative process. Under his leadership, the NAACP was instrumental in enacting the key civil rights legislation of the era. Grandson of Slaves
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Ethel Waters

May 30th, 2011 | By
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1896-1977  Ethel Waters overcame an early life of difficulty to become one of the best-known entertainers of her time. Her unique singing style broke through racial barriers and was embraced by a broad audience, black and white alike. In stage and film, she used her natural acting talent to transcend musical and “Mammy” roles and
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Jan Ernst Matzeliger

May 29th, 2011 | By
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1852 – 1889  Jan Matzeliger invented a shoe manufacturing machine that was, at the time, considered impossible. He enabled the creation of the modern shoe industry and billions of dollars of economic value, and affordable shoes for ordinary people everywhere. Early Aptitude Matzeliger was born in Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana (now called Suriname) in South America
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Billie Holiday

May 28th, 2011 | By
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1915 – 1959 Billie Holiday, affectionately known as “Lady Day,” lent a life of suffering to her art, and created a unique vocal style. Many of her songs embody her pain in a way that touches a chord in the audience. Her heartfelt rendition of the anti-racism song “Strange Fruit” serves as an enduring part
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Malcolm X

May 27th, 2011 | By
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1925-1965  Malcolm X was one of the most honored and respected African American leaders during the turbulent 1960s, and a source of inspiration for generations of Blacks since. His evolution from antagonism toward non-Blacks to a vision of brotherhood had as its theme self-respect and self-reliance for all Africans everywhere, a timeless message that remains
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Sojourner Truth

May 26th, 2011 | By
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1797? – 1883  Sojourner Truth was a tireless activist proselytizing on behalf of African Americans’ and women’s rights. Through an inspiring combination of religious passion and civil rights oratory, informed by her years of mistreatment as a slave and empowered by effective legal activism, she was a singular force in the early abolitionist period and
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Joe Louis

May 24th, 2011 | By
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1914-1981  Joe Louis Barrow fought his way to the pinnacle of prize-fighting, earning world records that stand to this day. In so doing, he became a symbol of unity in a country otherwise divided, and a model of achievement for all African Americans. Early Success Louis was born in 1914 in Chambers County, Alabama, the
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Duke Ellington

May 23rd, 2011 | By
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1899 – 1974 Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington is recognized as one of the greatest jazz composers and performers who ever lived. He combined an exceptional talent for instrumental voicings, improvisation, and jazz arrangements to create a unique big-band sound that expanded the range of the musical form and excited audiences around the world. His recordings
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Doris Miller

May 22nd, 2011 | By
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1919-1943  During a short-lived but distinguished Navy career, Doris “Dorie” Miller, with limited training and on his own volition, fought at Pearl Harbor against attacking Japanese planes with anti-aircraft guns to defend his ship and his country. Farm to Sea Miller was born in 1919 in Waco, Texas, the third of four sons of sharecroppers
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