Posts Tagged ‘Black history’

Vanessa Lynn Williams (1963-) is a model, singer, songwriter and actress. Performing, music in particular, has been a very vital portion of Williams’ life. Williams began competing in beauty pageants in the early 1980s. She won Miss New York in 1983, and went to the Miss America national pageant in Atlantic City. In 1984, she became the first African American woman to be crowned Miss America, but a scandal caused her to relinquish her title. Williams is quoted as saying “the best revenge is success.” She rebounded by launching a career as an entertainer, earning Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award nominations. Vanessa launched her recording career in 1988 with her first album, “The Right Stuff,” which went gold and earned her first three Grammy Award nominations. Check out the music video below of her first single “The Right Stuff”..

Williams’ first television appearance was on a 1984 episode of The Love Boat, playing herself. She then made guest appearances on a number of shows, including T.J. Hooker, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saturday Night Live, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, LateLine, MADtv, Ally McBeal and Boomtown. Williams made her film debut in 1986 in “Under the Gun” and she appeared in the films “The Pick-Up Artist,” “Another You” (with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder) and “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man” (with Mickey Rourke).

Here is another one of her music videos from her 1991 multi-million selling follow-up, “The Comfort Zone,” which featured the unforgettable “Save the Best For Last.”

Other facts:

  • Vanessa L. Williams is most often referenced and publicly recognized simply as “Vanessa Williams”. There is, however, occasional confusion with similarly named actress Vanessa A. Williams, who first came to national notice in 1992, when she appeared in the first season of Melrose Place.
  • In 2008 & 2009, she was nominated for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for Ugly Betty.
  • She has been married twice. Her first marriage, to her then-manager Ramon Hervey II, was from 1987 to 1997. They have three children: Melanie (born 1987), Jillian (born 1989), and Devin (born 1993).
  • Her second marriage was to former NBA basketball player Rick Fox. They married in September 1999 and have a daughter, Sasha Gabriella (born May 2000).
  • Williams is currently single and resides in Chappaqua, New York

For more information on Vanessa L. Williams visit the official site The Official Vanessa Williams Website and Vanessa Williams Music.

In August 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago, IL, was visiting his family in Money, MS. Although segregation was evident in both the North and South, Mississippi was far worse than Emmett could have imagined. Emmett arrived in Money, MS August 21 and typically spent most of his time with his cousin and other young black kids, all under the age of 19. The facts of what really happened August 24 in Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, where the boys went to buy candy and soda, are still disputed. I’ve heard everything from he whistled at a white girl, whom was later recognized as Carolyn Bryant, the store owner. Some have said that he was dared by a cousin to flirt with a white girl and as he left the store he turned and said “Bye baby” to her. Carolyn Bryant, wife of Roy Bryant, one of the killers, said that he grabbed her by the waist and asked her for a date and used “unprintable” words. Whether he whistled, touched or spoke to her is besides the point. The cruel and unusual punishment that resulted stands to be historical.

Till had been beaten and had an eye gouged out, before he was shot through the head and thrown into the Tallahatchie River with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied to his body with barbed wire. His body was in the river for three days before being discovered and retrieved by two fishermen. Till’s features were too distorted by the beatings to easily identify him, but he was positively identified thanks to a ring he wore that had been his father’s. His mother had given it to him the day before he left for Money.

Since 1880, more than 500 people had been lynched in Mississippi, and only rarely was any legal action taken against whites who committed violence against blacks. Because of this long-standing “white” immunity against prosecution for lynching, many people believed that this was the first time a Mississippi court would hear a case of white men accused of a crime against a black man. It wasn’t the first case, but it quickly became the most famous. (Source)

Less than a day later, authorities charged Bryant and his half-brother, Milam, with kidnapping. After finding Emmett’s body, murder was added to their charges. Surprisingly, an all-white Sumner County grand jury ordered that the men stand trial. Immediately after the murder, many citizens of Mississippi condemned the killing but the intense media attention and harsh criticism from the northern states and organizations like the NAACP put Mississippi racists on the defensive. Widespread rumors of this case being a race-inspired lynching were quickly disputed by Mississippi Governor Hugh White. “This is not a lynching,” he told reporters. “It is straight out murder.”

(Roy Bryant, left, and J.W. Milam, right, at the trial.)

Soon Bryant and Milam went from criminals to martyrs. Newspapers and local authorities began reacting to the pressure from the North and were now supposedly “defending the South, not the two killers.” However, on September 23, 1955 after a week long trial, less than an hour of dilberating from the jury, Bryant and Milam were declared innocennt. People realized that race relations had declined to such a low level, that even children were no longer safe from racist violence.

His abduction and murder in Mississippi in August 1955, and the subsequent acquittal of his killers the following month, became not only a national story, but also put Southern racism into the international spotlight. These events became a major force in the advancement of the Civil Rights Movement. Some would even say they were the catalyst. (Source)

Destined for obscurity
Until you took a south-bound train.
But soon we saw your battered face,
And we felt your mother’s pain.

Because bad men, with their hearts of stone,
Who delight in dirty deeds,
Unknowingly fulfilled the word
That it’s a little child that leads.

And “black” meant “brave” those summer days,
Enduring threats and fear.
But the Tallahatchie’s deeper now
Because it holds our tears.

Tried, acquitted, they walked the streets
They bragged, then lived in shame.
Living life disowned, alone,
In prisons without names.

Making sense of senseless acts
Decades later, now we see.
Despite the walls now broken down,
We’re just beginning to be free

An only child, a mother’s son,
You moved a sleeping land.
And as one of heaven’s angels,
You’ve moved us once again.

Devery Scott Anderson
(c) 2004

“If racism and racial bigotry are to be eliminated, then individuals in all so-called “racial” groups will have to examine and change specific beliefs, values and attitudes about “race.” The same individuals will have to change related negative behaviors directed towards members of other so-called “racial” groups. They will have to work to responsibly change in their respective cultures those institutions, social processes and value allocation systems which treat members of other “racial” groups unfairly and deny them power, privilege and status or, more fundamentally, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

For more information, visit these sites The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till and Emmett Till

Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994) is an athlete and Olympic track and field champion. She was born into a very large family—Wilma was the 20th of 22 children! In the 1940’s, families were very poor and segregation was still very prominent. Wilma was born premature and as a child battled one illness after another, measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever and double pneumonia. The nearest black doctor’s office was too far away therefore her mother, Blanche Rudolph, nursed her at home at least until they discovered that her left leg was becoming weak and deformed. Wilma was diagnosed with polio and treated at Meharry Hospital, the black medical college of Fisk University in Nashville. Even though it was 50 miles away, Wilma’s mother took her there twice a week for two years, until she was able to walk with the aid of a metal leg brace. Then the doctors taught Mrs. Rudolph how to do the physical therapy exercises at home. All of her brothers and sisters helped too, and they did everything to encourage her to be strong and work hard at getting well. By the time she was 12 years old, she could walk normally, without the crutches, brace, or corrective shoes. It was then that she decided to become an athlete.

Wilma originally followed in her older sister, Yolanda’s footsteps and joined the basketball team. During her state basketball tournament, she was spotted by Ed Temple, the coach for the famous Tigerbells, the women’s track team at Tennessee State University. After graduating high school, Wilma received a full scholarship to attend and run track for Tennessee State University. She went to her first Olymppic Games in 1956 at the age of 16 and on September 7, 1960 she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the Olympics held in Rome. This achievement led her to become one of the most celebrated female athletes of all time. In addition, her celebrity caused gender barriers to be broken in previously all-male track and field events.

Due to all the celebrity she received from her track career, she took a year off from her studies to make appearances and compete in international track events. She returned and received a Bachelor’s degree in education, graduating in 1963. “After retiring from competition in the early 1960s, Rudolph worked as a teacher and a track coach. She shared her remarkable story with the world in 1977 with her autobiography, Wilma. Her book was later turned into a television film. In the 1980s, she was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and established the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to promote amateur athletics.

Rudolph died on November 12, 1994, near Nashville, Tennessee, from brain cancer. In 2004, the United States Postal Service honored this Olympic champion by featuring her likeness on a 23-cent stamp. She is remembered as one of the fastest women in track and as a source of great inspiration for generations of African-American athletes.”

Shani Davis (1982-) is the first black individual medalist in Winter Olympics history. But no one would know that if they looked at the U.S. speedskating media guide. Aside from the records and results section of the guide, he’s not mentioned. According to Yahoo! Sports:

There has long been animosity between Davis and the U.S. speedskating federation, mostly stemming from a snafu at the 2006 Winter Olympics where Davis received undue criticism for not skating in the team pursuit event. Though never eligible to skate in the event, the federation remained quiet throughout the ordeal, alienating Davis. Now that the Olympics have arrived, Davis has made it quite clear that he does not want to be included in the U.S. speedskating federation media guide.

So he’s not, though he is going to the Olympics, where he’ll be skating in four events. He’ll be favored to win gold in the 1,000-meter and 1,500. And if he does, he’ll end up in that media guide whether he likes it or not.

Although Shani is the first black speed skater to earn a spot on the U.S, Olympic Team in 2002, he does not concentrate on making Black History. That doesn’t mean that we can’t recognize him for it though. At age 17, Shani became the first U.S. skater to earn a spot on both the short track and long track Junior World Teams and accomplished that feat three years in a row (2000, 2001 and 2002). Now ten years later, Shani has reached amazing heights of competing all around the world in various countries such as Hungary, Canada, Italy, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Norway, China, Japan, Korea, Finland and Poland. For a more detailed biography visit the Official Shani Davis site. The 2009-2010 season should be quite amazing for Shani Davis.. Good luck!

Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) was the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives. She was elected in 1969 and represented the state of New York. She broke ground again four years later in 1972 when she was the first major party African-American candidate and the first female candidate for president of the United States.

During her first term in Congress, Chisholm hired an all-female staff and spoke out for civil rights, women’s rights, the poor and against the Vietnam War. She was a sought-after public speaker and cofounder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She remarked that, “Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes.”

On January 25, 1972, Chisholm announced her candidacy for president. She stood before the cameras and in the beginning of her speech she said,

“I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States. I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political bosses or special interests. I am the candidate of the people.”

The 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami was the first major convention in which any woman was considered for the presidential nomination. Although she did not win the nomination, she received 151 of the delegates’ votes. She continued to serve in the House of Representatives until 1983. “After leaving Congress in January 1983, Chisholm helped co-found the National Political Congress of Black Women and campaigned for Jesse Jackson’s presidential bids in 1984 and 1988. She also taught at Mt. Holyoke College in 1983. Though nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica by President William J. Clinton, Chisholm declined due to ill health. She settled in Palm Coast, Florida, where she wrote and lectured, and died on January 1, 2005, in Ormond Beach, Florida.”

For more information visit Shirley Chisholm’s biography via

The White House will host a civil rights concert to celebrate Black History Month featuring such greats as Smokey Robinson, Natalie Cole, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Queen Latifah and Bob Dylan.

The concert, called “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music From the Civil Rights Movement,” will be on Feb. 11 in the State Dining Room, and is timed to celebrate Black History Month. It will be hosted by Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah, and will feature songs associated with the civil rights movement as well as readings from famous civil rights speeches.

The concert is the latest event in a music series started last year by First Lady Michelle Obama and will be broadcast on public television and streamed live online at

(from Google)

Nice gesture Google… I’m loving that things are slowly seeming better in support of minorities in America. Today is a great day.. Happy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to everyone from Cris. Allow his legacy to be inspiration in your life as you go about everyday tasks. Make decisions that will not only improve your life but maybe even those around you. Don’t be selfish…. Dr. King wasn’t. He had a dream for people beyond the ones he knew personally. As a result, he became legendary and still is to this day. God bless you all.

We love you Dr. King.. xo.