Community Broadcasters, The Almighty Gospel Radio Network, and JAMZ 107.5 invite you to join us in celebration of Black History Month!
Throughout the month of February, we will be showcasing various vignettes about influential African Americans both past and present. You'll hear these vignettes across our Almighty Gospel Network and JAMZ but you can also peruse them below! And of course a big thank you to our Title Sponsors at MPD ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE!
Jesse Louis Jackson, an African American political leader, clergyman, and civil-rights activist, was born in 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina. Raised in poverty; he attended the Chicago Theological Seminary and was ordained a Baptist minister in 1968. Active in the civil-rights movement, he became a close associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. He served as executive director of Operation Breadbasket, a program of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that addressed the economic problems of African Americans in northern cities. In 1971 he founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), an organization to combat racism. Since 1986 he has been president of the National Rainbow Coalition, an independent political organization aimed at uniting disparate groups—racial minorities, the poor, peace activists, and environmentalists. In 1984 and 1988, Jackson, an effective public speaker, campaigned for the Democratic nomination for president, becoming the first African American to contend seriously for that office. He was elected in 1990 as a nonvoting member of the Senate from the District of Columbia and has campaigned for its statehood.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., an American clergyman and civil-rights leader, was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. In 1955 he led the black boycott of segregated city bus lines and in 1956 gained a major victory and prestige as a civil-rights leader when Montgomery buses began to operate on a desegregated basis.
King organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which gave him a base to pursue further civil-rights activities, first in the South and later nationwide. His nonviolent campaigns had mixed success, but the protest he led in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963 brought him worldwide attention. He spearheaded the Aug., 1963, March on Washington, which brought together more than 200,000 people. The protests he led helped to assure the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the year he became the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In the mid-1960s King’s interests widened from civil rights to include criticism of the Vietnam War and a deeper concern over poverty. While in Memphis Tennessee in support of striking sanitation workers in 1968, King was shot and killed as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver, an American agricultural chemist, was born a slave in Diamond, Missouri around 1864. Later, as a free man, Carver earned his college degree. In 1896 he joined the staff of Tuskegee Institute as director of the department of agricultural research, retaining that post until his death in 1943. His work won him international repute. Carver's efforts to improve the economy of the South included the teaching of soil improvement and of diversification of crops. He discovered hundreds of uses for the peanut, the sweet potato, and the soybean and thus stimulated the culture of these crops. He devised many products from cotton waste and extracted blue, purple, and red pigments from local clay. From 1935 he was a collaborator of the Bureau of Plant Industry. Carver contributed his life savings to a foundation for research at Tuskegee. In 1953 his birthplace was made a national monument.
Benjamin Banneker, a mathematician, astronomer, and surveyor, has been called the first African American intellectual. Self-taught, after studying the inner workings of a friend's watch, he made one of wood that accurately kept time for more than 40 years. Banneker taught himself astronomy well enough to correctly predict a solar eclipse in 1789. From 1791 to 1802 he published the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia Almanac and Ephemeris, which contained tide tables, future eclipses, and medicinal formulas. It is believed to be the first scientific book published by an African American. Also a surveyor and mathematician, Banneker was appointed by President George Washington to the District of Columbia Commission, which was responsible for the survey work that established the city's original boundaries. When committee chairman Pierre Charles L'Enfant suddenly resigned and left, taking the plans with him, Banneker reproduced the plans from memory, saving valuable time. A staunch opponent of slavery, Banneker sent a copy of his first almanac to then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to counter Jefferson's belief in the intellectual inferiority of blacks.
RONALD E. MCNAIR (PH.D.)
Dr. Ronald McNair, a NASA Astronaut was born October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina He was a 5th degree black belt Karate instructor and a performing jazz saxophonist. He also enjoyed running, boxing, football, playing cards, and cooking. Dr. McNair graduated from Carver High School, Lake City, South Carolina, in 1967; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from North Carolina A&T State University in 1971 and a doctor of philosophy in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. He was also presented an honorary doctorate of Laws from North Carolina A&T State University in 1978, an honorary doctorate of Science from Morris College in 1980, and an honorary doctorate of science from the University of South Carolina in 1984. Dr. McNair was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. He first flew as a mission specialist on February 3, 1984. This mission marked the first flight of the Manned Maneuvering Unit and the first use of the Canadian arm, operated by McNair. With the completion of the flight, he logged a total of 191 hours in space. Dr. McNair died on January 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, also taking the lives of the entire crew onboard.
Mary McLeod Bethune
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, an American educator, was born in 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina. She graduated from Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, in 1895. The 17th child of former slaves, she taught in a series of southern mission schools before settling in Florida to found the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls in 1904. From 1904 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1947, she served as president of the institute, which, after merging with Cookman Institute in 1923, became Bethune-Cookman College. A leader in the American black community, she founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935 and was director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration from 1936-1944. In addition, she served as special adviser on minority affairs to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. At the 1945 conference that organized the United Nations, she was a consultant on interracial understanding.
Eartha Kitt, a singer, dancer, and actress, was born in 1927 in North South Carolina. Kitt is best known for the holiday hit "Santa Baby." She started her entertainment career in the early 1950s as a dancer with the Katherine Dunham troupe. She joined the troupe on its European tour and remained in Paris, achieving fame as a nightclub singer. She starred in Broadway's New Faces of 1952, as well as in the film version of the production. She also played Catwoman in the Batman television series. In 2003 she performed in the Broadway production of Nine. Kitt is the voice of Yzma in Disney's The Emperor's New Groove, Kronk's New Groove, and the TV cartoon spinoff, The Emperor's New School, earning five Emmy Awards in the process, the last shortly before her death in 2008. Kitt was active in numerous social causes in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966, she established the Kittsville Youth Foundation, a chartered and non-profit organization for underprivileged youth.
Sidney Poitier, an American actor, was born in Miami in 1927, raised in the Bahamas, returned to the United States at 15. The first African-American actor to achieve leading man status in Hollywood films, Poitier combines attractiveness and poise with an innate projection of dignity and self-assurance. Many of his plays and films have directly addressed issues of race, including his Broadway triumph, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun in 1959, which became a film 1961, and such films as the pioneering No Way Out in 1950, his movie debut; the internationally acclaimed Cry, the Beloved Country after Alan Paton's novel; The Defiant Ones, the film that established Poitier's reputation; Lilies of the Field, for which he won an Academy Award in 1963; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, which treated the subject of interracial marriage, and In the Heat of the Night. He turned to directing in 1971; among his films are Buck and the Preacher, A Patch of Blue, and Stir Crazy. In 1991 he portrayed Thurgood Marshall in the Emmy-winning television film Separate but Equal.
Oprah Gail Winfrey, an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi in 1954. Winfrey is best known for her multi-award-winning talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011. Her book-of-the-month feature on the show regularly raised books from obscurity to national bestsellers. She owns a production company, Harpo, and is one of the highest-paid celebrities in the world. She appeared in the films The Color Purple in 1985 and 2013’s The Butler, and was producer and actress in the television movie The Women of Brewster Place (1989) as well as the film of Toni Morrison's Beloved (1998), and has produced a number of television movies. In April 2000 she launched O magazine, which became one of the most successful new magazines in publishing history. January 1, 2011, Winfrey and Discovery Communications launched OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. In 2003, the Forbes magazine list of American billionaires included Winfrey—the first African-American woman to reach billionaire status.
Michael Joseph Jackson, an American performer, was born in Gary, Indiana in 1958. Jackson was an extremely successful pop singer, superb dancer, and talented composer who often conveyed an androgynous image. Offstage, he became known for various alleged eccentricities, for his sharp business acumen, and for a physical appearance that changed radically over the years. As a child in the 1960s and 70s he was the dominant voice and youngest member of the Jackson Five, a pop group that included five brothers and scored its first big hit in 1969. A decade later, with his solo albums Off the Wall in 1979, and the even more successful Thriller in 1982, which sold over 30 million copies, Michael Jackson became one of the world's leading musical stars. He created a unique style that mingled rhythm and blues with pop and became widely known as the "King of Pop." Jackson also did much to usher in the era of pop celebrity, becoming famous for his packed concerts, his glittering military-style outfits, his sequined white glove, and his "moonwalk" dance steps. His recording success continued with the albums Bad in 1987 and Dangerous in (1991, both of which sold over 20 million copies. Public reactions to his next two studio albums were mixed, mired with legal woes for the singer for child molestation charges, for which he was eventually acquitted. Subsequently, he largely disappeared from public view, but was in rehearsal for a comeback tour when he died in 2009.
John Coltrane, an American jazz musician, was born in Hamlet, North Carolina in 1926. He began playing tenor saxophone as an adolescent. Coltrane worked with numerous big bands before emerging in the mid-1950s as a major stylist while playing as a sideman with Miles Davis. Originally influenced by Lester Young, Coltrane displayed in his playing a dazzling technical brilliance combined with ardent emotion and eventually a kind of mysticism. His style, which was at once sonorous and spare, was influenced by the rhythms and tonal structure of African and Asian music. Coltrane made a number of influential recordings, among them the modal-jazz classics My Favorite Things (1961) and A Love Supreme (1964), and the later exemplars of free jazz, Ascension and Interstellar Space, his final album. From the late 1950s until his death in 1967, he was considered the outstanding tenor and soprano saxophonist of the jazz avant-garde, and his music continues to be a strong source of inspiration to jazz and pop musicians.
James Langston Hughes was an American poet and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902. He worked at a variety of jobs and lived in several countries, including Mexico and France, before Vachel Lindsay discovered his poetry in 1925. The publication of The Weary Blues in 1926, his first volume of poetry, enabled Hughes to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1929. His writing, which often uses dialect and jazz rhythms, is largely concerned with depicting African American life, particularly the experience of the urban African American. Among his later collections of poetry are Shakespeare in Harlem (1942), One-Way Ticket (1949), and Selected Poems (1959). Hughes's numerous other works include several plays, notably Mulatto (1935); books for children, such as The First Book of Negroes (1952); and novels, including Not Without Laughter (1930). His newspaper sketches about Jesse B. Simple were collected in The Best of Simple in 1961. Hughes died in 1967.
Barack Hussein Obama II, the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American president in American history, was born in 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. After his parents divorced and his father returned to Africa in 1964, Obama stayed with his mother and was raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. He earned an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 1983 and a law degree from Harvard in 1991. He then joined the Chicago law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, which specialized in civil rights legislation. He also taught constitutional law for 12 years at the University of Chicago. Barack Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, and then to the U.S. Senate in 2004, beating Republican candidate Alan Keyes. Barack Obama shot to national fame after delivering a stirring keynote speech in support of John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic national convention. Obama ran for president in 2008, and defeated Republican nominee John McCain in the November general election. He officially took office on January 20, 2009. Barack Obama published the personal memoir Dreams from My Father in 1995, and published a second book, The Audacity of Hope, in 2006. The title of the latter book was also the title of his 2004 keynote speech, and both books won Grammys for best spoken word album. Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. He ran successfully for re-election in 2012, defeating Republican candidate Mitt Romney on November 6, 2012.
Colin Luther Powell, an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army, was born in New York City in 1937. General Powell was educated in the New York City public schools, graduating from Morris High School and City College of New York, where he earned a bachelor's degree in geology. He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. His further academic achievements include a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University. General Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years. During that time he held many different command and staff positions. His last assignment, from October 1, 1989, to September 30, 1993, was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. During this time he oversaw 28 military and political crises, including Operation Desert Storm in the victorious 1991 Persian Gulf War. In 2001, Powell became the first African-American U.S. secretary of state, under President George W. Bush. General Powell is also the author of a best–selling autobiography, My American Journey, which traces his life from his birth to immigrant Jamaican parents in Harlem to his role in advising this country’s four most recent chief executives, Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
Condoleezza Rice, a U.S. government official and educator, was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1954. In 1967, the family moved to Denver, Colorado. She attended St. Mary's Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, graduating at the age of 16 in 1971. After studying piano at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Rice enrolled at the University of Denver, where her father was then serving as an assistant dean. In 1974, at age 19, Rice was awarded a B.A., cum laude, in political science by the University of Denver. She obtained a master's degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1975. She first worked in the State Department in 1977, during the Carter administration, as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In 1981, at the age of 26, she received her Ph.D. in political science from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. With a specialty in Russian and Eastern European studies, Rice has been a professor at Stanford Univ. since 1981. From 1989 to 1991 she was an adviser on Soviet and Eastern European affairs on President George H. W. Bush's National Security Council. Subsequently, she served from 1993–1999 as Stanford's provost. During the 2000 presidential campaign she was George W. Bush's foreign policy adviser, and in 2001 she became President Bush's national security adviser—the first woman and second African American to hold the post. She served from 2005–2009 as secretary of state during Bush's second term, succeeding Colin Powell. Her books include The Gorbachev Era in 1986 and Germany Unified and Europe Transformed in 1995.