1. Laura Matilda Towne, an educator and abolitionist. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Towne studied homeopathic medicine privately and attended the Penn Medical University. She taught in charity schools in various northern towns and cities in the 1850s and ’60s. Early in 1862 she answered an appeal for volunteers to teach, nurse, and help freed slaves in the Union capture of Port Royal and other Sea Islands area of South Carolina.
2. Septima Poinsette Clark, was an educator and civil rights activist. Clark developed the literacy and citizenship workshops that played an important role in the drive for voting rights and civil rights for African Americans in the American Civil Rights Movement.”She became known as the “Queen mother” or “Grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement” in the United States.
3. Canada Lee (Lionel Cornelius Canegata), was an actor who pioneered roles for African Americans. A champion of civil rights in the 1930s and 1940s, he died shortly before he was scheduled to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He became an actor after careers as a jockey, boxer, and musician. Lee furthered the African-American tradition in theater pioneered by such older actors as Paul Robeson. Lee is the father of actor Carl Lee.
4. Dan Bankhead, was the first black pitcher inMajor League Baseball. After a strong career in the Negro League playing for the Memphis Red Sox, he was signed at age 24 byBranch Rickey to play in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm system. Bankhead, an excellent hitter who was leading the Negro Leaguewith a .385 batting average when purchased by the Dodgers, hit a home run in his first major league at bat on August 26, 1947, inEbbets Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates; however, this was to be the only major league home run Bankhead would hit, and he gave up ten hits in 3-1/3 innings pitching in relief that day. He was shipped to the minor leagues for the 1948 and 1949 seasons. Pitching for clubs in Nashua, New Hampshire and St. Paul, Minnesota in 1948, he recorded 24 wins and six losses.
He returned to the Dodgers for the 1950 season, appearing in 41 games, with twelve starts, and finished with nine wins, four losses and a 5.50 earned run average. In 1951, his final year in the majors, he appeared in seven games, losing his only decision, with an ERA of 15.43. He died of cancer at a Veterans Administration hospital in Houston, Texas. During World War II, he served in theMarine Corps from 1942 to 1945.
5., John Aaron Lewis, was a jazz pianist and composer best known as the musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet. he learned classical music and piano from his mother starting at the age of seven. He continued his musical training at the University of New Mexico and also studied anthropology. He served in the Army in World War II. While stationed in France on a three-year tour of duty, he met and performed with Kenny Clarke. Clarke was an early developer of thebop style and Lewis composed and arranged for a band he and Clarke organized. Lewis returned from service in 1945 and resumed his university studies. he found work in 52nd Street clubs with Allen Eager, Hot Lips Page and others.
After that year, he joined Dizzy Gillespie’s bop-style big band where Clarke was the drummer. Lewis developed his skill further by composing and arranging for the band as well as attending the Manhattan School of Music. In January 1948, the band made a concert tour of Europe, interrupting Lewis’ studies. Lewis stayed in Europe for a time after the tour, writing and studying piano. He returned to the United States and started working for Charlie Parker in 1948 (playing on the famous recording “Parker’s Mood”), Illinois Jacquet from October 1948 to 1949, Lester Young from 1950 to 1951, and others.
He participated in the second Birth of the Cool session with Miles Davis in 1949 but was unable to attend the first because of an engagement with Ella Fitzgerald, whom he accompanied. Al Haig substituted for him, and the band did not include a pianist for its third session in 1950. Lewis arranged the compositions “Move” and “Budo” (immediately released as singles in 1949) and contributed one tune, “Rouge”, to these seminal sessions. (Not to be confused with the Politician John Lewis) .
6. Sugar Ray Robinson, was a professional boxer. Frequently cited as the greatest boxer of all time, Robinson’s performances in the welterweight and middleweight divisions prompted sportswriters to create “pound for pound” rankings, where they compared fighters regardless of weight. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Robinson was 85-0 as an amateur with 69 of those victories coming by way of knockout, 40 in the first round. He turned professional in 1940 at the age of 19 and by 1951 had a professional record of 128-1-2 with 84 knockouts. Robinson held the world welterweight title from 1946 to 1951, and won the world middleweight title in the latter year. He retired in 1952, only to come back two and a half years later and regain the middleweight title in 1955. He then became the first boxer in history to win a divisional world championship five times, a feat he accomplished by defeating Carmen Basilio in 1958 to regain the middleweight championship. Robinson was named “fighter of the year” twice: first for his performances in 1942, then nine years and over 90 fights later, for his efforts in 1951. He defeated other Hall of Fame fighters such as Jake LaMotta, Carmen Basilio, Gene Fullmer, Carl ‘Bobo’ Olson, Henry Armstrong, Rocky Graziano and Kid Gavilan. Robinson engaged in 200 pro bouts, and his professional career lasted nearly 26 years.
7. James Joseph Brown, was an singer and songwriter. Eventually referred to as “The Godfather of Soul“, Brown started singing in gospel groups and worked his way on up.He has been recognized as one of the most iconic figures in the 20th century popular music and was renowned for his vocals and feverish dancing. He was also called “the hardest-working man in show business”.
A prolific singer, songwriter, dancer and bandleader, Brown was a pivotal force in the music industry, leaving his mark on numerous artists.”Even as his own career declined during the height of the golden age of hip hop, Brown’s work found new life in the form of digital sampling; he would go on to become the most sampled artist in the history of the genre. Brown’s music also influenced the rhythms ofAfrican popular music, such as afrobeat, jùjúand mbalax, and provided a template for go-go music.
Brown began his professional music career in 1956 and rose to fame during the late 1950s and early 1960s on the strength of his thrilling live performances and string of smash hits. In spite of various personal problems and setbacks he continued to score hits in every decade through the 1980s. In addition to his acclaim in music, Brown was also a presence in American political affairs during the 1960s and 1970s.
Brown was recognized by numerous titles, including Soul Brother Number One, Sex Machine, Mr. Dynamite, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business, The King of Funk, Minister of The New New Super Heavy Funk, Mr. Please Please Please Please Himself, I Feel Good, and foremost The Godfather of Soul. In the song “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley, he is also described as the King of Soul.
8. Greg Gumble, television sportscaster. He is best known for his various assignments on the CBS network (most notably, the National Football League and NCAA basketball). The brother of news and sportscaster Bryant Gumbel, he became the first African American announcer to call play-by-play of a major sports championship in the United States when he announced Super Bowl XXXV for the CBS network in 2001. 64 Years ago