On this day in Black history…
1. 1992 – Alex Haley, renowned author, dies
American biographer, scriptwriter, author who became famous with the publication of the novel 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 mythmaking. “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.”
2. 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.
3. 1966 – Andrew Brimmer becomes the first African-American governor of the Federal Reserve Board when he is appointed by President Johnson
4. 1964 – 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.
5. 1946 Georgia-born Jackie Robinson — major league baseball’s first black player — married Rachel Isum.
6. 1940 – Singer Roberta Flack born
b. 10 February 1937, Asheville, North Carolina, USA. Born into a musical family, Flack graduated from Howard University with a BA in music. She was discovered singing and playing jazz in a Washington nightclub by pianist Les McCann, who recommended her talents to Atlantic Records. Two classy albums, First Take and Chapter Two, garnered considerable acclaim for their skillful, often introspective, content before Flack achieved huge success with a poignant version of folk-singer Ewan MacColl ‘s ballad, ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. Recorded in 1969, it was a major international hit three years later, following its inclusion in the film Play Misty For Me. Further hits came with ‘Where Is The Love?’ (1972), a duet with Donny Hathaway, and ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’ (1973), where Flack’s penchant for sweeter, more MOR-styled compositions gained an ascendancy. Her cool, almost unemotional style benefited from a measured use of slow material, although she seemed less comfortable on up-tempo songs. Flack’s self-assurance wavered during the mid-70s, but further duets with Hathaway, ‘The Closer I Get To You’ (1978) and ‘You Are My Heaven’ (1980), suggested a rebirth. She was shattered when her partner committed suicide in 1979, but in the 80s Flack enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Peabo Bryson that reached a commercial, if sentimental, peak with ‘Tonight I Celebrate My Love’ in 1983. Set The Night To Music was produced by the highly respected Arif Mardin, but the bland duet with Maxi Priest on the title track was representative of this soulless collection of songs.
7. 1927 – Leontyne Price
Leontyne Price has achieved heights in the music world that many aspire to but that very few reach. As a singer she became famous all around the world. Mary Leontyne Price was born in Laurel, Mississippi, on February 10, 1927. As a youth, she sang in church choirs. Later, she attended Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio, where she received encouragement and specialized vocal training. Through the financial assistance of people from her hometown and the great Paul Robeson, she was able to continue her training at the Julliard School of Music in New York. Price first attracted widespread attention while she was at Julliard. Her fame in the United States led to her being selected to play of Bess in a European tour of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. That triumphal tour brought her worldwide fame. After the tour, she went on to sing the part of Aida in Austria, Belgium, Italy, and Yugoslavia. She was so popular in Europe that she signed to a contract to record songs in most of the major European languages. Back in the United States, her popularity continued to grow. In 1961, Price debuted with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, singing the part of Leonora in Giuseppe Verdi’s II Trovatore. For her performance, she received a standing ovation that lasted forty-two minutes. At the peak of her popularity, Leontyne Price retired from active operatic singing. Her retirement from the stage left a gap that has yet to be filled.
8. 1927 – Ron Brown elected Chairman of the Democratic Party
Attorney Ronald Brown was elected national chairman of the Democratic Party and became the first African American to hold the post. Brown was later appointed Secretary of Commerce under the Clinton administration in 1994. He served in this capacity until he was killed in 1996 when he and 32 others died in a plane crash while on a diplomatic mission in Croatia.
9. 1907 Civil rights activist and politician Grace Towns Hamilton was born in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her undergraduate degree from hometown Atlanta University, before completing her master’s degree at Ohio State University. 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. Hamilton served as executive director of the Atlanta Urban League from 1943-1960, and also sat on the board of the Southern Regional Council and the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, as well as many other voluntary positions. But she made her most lasting mark by becoming the first African-American woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1965. She served in Georgia House of Representatives until 1984. Today, a chair in the Emory University political science department is named in her honor.
10. 1868 – Conservatives, aided by military forces, seized
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.
11. 1854 – Educator Joseph Charles Price was born
Few Individuals have made the impact on their times or left the legacy to their beneficiaries as did Joseph Charles Price, founder and first president of Livingstone College. Born February 10, 1854 at Elizabeth City, NC, he rose to fame and world renown as a scholar, Christian Gospel Preacher, orator and shining example of selflessness in devotion to his people. He graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania as valedictorian of the Class of 1879, and completed the three-year theological course in two years.
12. 1787 -1787 Georgia’s House of Assembly named Willliam Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, Georgie Walton, William Houston, and Nathaniel Pendleton as Georgia’s commissioners to the Philadelphia constitutional convention.