Genealogy research and DNA analysis have been the rage the last few years. More African American families are using these technologies to discover African ancestral connections. The PBS television series African American Lives, hosted by Henry "Skip" Louis Gates Jr., (shown above with Oprah Winfrey), debuted in February during Black History Month, 2006. African American Lives is fascinating. Famous black history people in the USA trace their lineage to Africa with Gates guiding the series along. I was very glad I watched several episodes last year. It's Oprah's chance this week, with a new, updated episode. One good thing about PBS, the programs are always repeated, so you'll eventually get a second chance to watch Oprah's Roots: An African American Lives Special.
Ella Fitzgerald, (1917 - 1996), a jazz great, was one of the first African American singers to appeal to both black and white audiences. Poverty could not suppress the raw talent that was to lead to her eventual success. She was born in Newport News, Virginia. Her family chose to make New York City their adopted home. As a teenager in the 1930's, Fitzgerald began six decades of performance encompassing 250 recordings and 13 Grammy Awards. She popularized the jazz style called scat singing. Her 1938 hit, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," derived from nursery rhymes, became her trademark song. She sang the songs of the best songwriters, and performed with most of the greats, including Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. Diabetes eventually claimed her life at the age of 79. On January 10, 2007, Ella Fitzgerald, became the 30th honoree in the popular Black History Heritage commemorative stamp series issued by the U.S. Postal Service. The stamp image is a portrait based on a photograph taken around 1956. As you can see, this likeness captures the joy and excitement that Fitzgerald brought to music. Fitzgerald won the National Medal of Arts, presented to her in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan. She was one of five artists awarded Kennedy Center Honors in 1979. In 1989, the Society of Singers created an award for lifetime achievement, called it the "Ella," and made her its first recipient. In 2005, Jazz at Lincoln Center inducted Fitzgerald into its Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame.
Happy New Year! Martin Luther King Day is January 15. This year, the holiday falls on his actual birthday. To raise awareness of the campaign to make his birthday a national holiday in the USA, I proudly secured the license plate "King 15" several years before Congress passed the law. Unfortunately, today I'm asked by clueless citizens if my license plate refers to a gang! How much do you know about Martin Luther King Jr.? Go to our website, Black History People Quiz, and add a simple question with the correct answer about the life of MLK. I will select the best submissions between now and January 16. Winners will receive a free copy of our black history software, "Empower Encyclopedia." You must submit both your question with the correct answer to be eligible to win. All winners will be contacted by email, so make sure you use your correct email address. Good luck. 2018 update: We completed recreated/updated BlackHistoryPeopleQuiz.com in 2014. The new site no longer accepts posted questions and answers.
With just a few short days until Christmas, time is running out to select those last minute stocking stuffers. Electronic delivery is a great option right now, as you can avoid the malls, crowds, express shipping charges, and select great gifts instantly in seconds, 24 hours a day. One hot idea is to download software, then burn it on to a CD. You get to personalize and customize the jewel case, packaging, gift message, etc. For those on your list who will appreciate discovering a wealth of wonders about black history, I recommend the information packed DVD: Empower Encyclopedia Salute To Black History. It's a great gift. 2018 DVD update: It's no longer being distributed, but 17 copies remain. We may release it again in the future or use it for a special promotion.
The first Nobel Prize was presented in 1901. It took 49 more years for the first African American to be honored. On Monday evening, December 11, 2006, Lionel Richie will perform in Oslo, Norway to help celebrate the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. Dr. Ralph J. Bunche was the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Toni Morrison won the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature, becoming the first African American writer to be honored. Every year prizes are awarded in literature, economics, chemistry, physics, medicine, and "the peace prize." Discover more about the amazing will of Alfred Nobel from NobelPrize.org. Here's what NobelPrize.org says about their prominently featured interactive Nobel website games... "You don't have to be a genius to understand the work of the Nobel Laureates. Games and simulations, based on Nobel Prize-awarded achievements, will teach and inspire you while you're having fun!" "Students, teachers and non-professionals of all ages will enjoy testing and building their knowledge in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace and economics." I highly recommend that you check out the skill building games of NobelPrize.org.
Dr. Louis T. Wright, (1891-1952), excelled in the field of medicine and brain trauma. He is the author of nearly 20 academic papers about brain surgery. Dr. Wright graduated from Clark University in Atlanta in 1911. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1915. Wright is perhaps most famous for inventing a brace for patients with neck injuries. His expertise included treating patients with skull fractures.
Ground was broken this week in Washington, D.C., for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. This photo is a computer enhanced model of what of the completed memorial will look like. Here are some fast facts about the project from the official MLK National Memorial website: President Bill Clinton signed a Joint Congressional Resolution authorizing the building of a memorial for Dr. King on July 16, 1998. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial will be adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and on a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The Memorial will evoke the memory and spiritual presence of Dr. King. The groundbreaking was contingent upon raising the estimated $100 million dollars required to build and maintain the memorial. $60 million has been raised so far. Visit the official Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial website.
Mid-term elections are over in the USA. Check your score card. Trading faces...Congress. The Democrats have the new majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Arthur W. Mitchell, (1886-1968), was the first black Democrat elected to the U.S. Congress (1934 - 1943). Mitchell studied under Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute. The Congressman, representing the First Congressional District of Illinois, received his law school education at Columbia and Harvard.
Bob Marley's former north London home was recently honored with a heritage plaque to celebrate the reggae legend's residence in the United Kingdom. The plaque describes Marley as a "singer, lyricist and Rastafarian icon." Robert Nesta Marley was born in St. Ann, Jamaica, February 6, 1945. He spread the message and spiritual passion of reggae music throughout the world for three decades. On May 11, 1981, 36 year old Marley passed away from cancer in Miami, Florida. By 1990, a national holiday was created in Jamaica to commemorate his birth. The reggae icon sold 9 million copies of his album Legend. In 1996, Legend was certified as the best-selling reggae album of all time. Marley's house in Kingston, Jamaica, now known as the Bob Marley Museum, is a big tourist attraction for black history scholars as well as vacationers to the Caribbean island. The Marley legacy continues today. Bob's youngest son, Damian, became the first reggae artist in 2006 to win a Grammy Award outside of the reggae category for his best Urban/Alternative performance: "Welcome to Jamrock" single. Damian Marley also lead the pack with six honors at this year's 2006 International Reggae and World Music Awards held in New York City.
Can you identify these three famous black history people? The woman on the left was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for her book, "Annie Allen" in 1950. In the middle, this public figure was the first African American elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 1963. He was elected the first African American Mayor of Los Angeles in 1973. On the right, he was the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize (1950). He was the first black official in the U.S. State Department in 1946. The answers: Gwendolyn Brooks left photo (1917 - 2000) Thomas Bradley middle photo (1917 - 1998) Dr. Ralph J. Bunche right photo (1904 - 1971) photos from Empower Encyclopedia