Tag: Black History Month

#HumpDayLoveDay: Viola Davis + Julius Tennon

Many years before becoming “Academy Award winner Viola Davis,” the actress was just another woman navigating single life in Los Angeles, a city in which she felt incredibly lonely. One day, Davis was complaining to a friend about not knowing many people in LA, and within earshot was a man that Davis would come to know very well: Julius Tennon, her future husband.

As Davis shared on the OWN series “Black Love,” Tennon overheard Davis lamenting on that fateful day, so he introduced himself and gave her his card.

Though Davis was eager to meet a nice man, she was ashamed of having bad credit at the time, and delayed calling Tennon, an actor and former college football player, for several weeks. When they finally connected, Davis and Tennon set up their first date ― a date during which Tennon was open, honest and, as Davis puts it, terrifying.

“I was terrified, because he told me exactly who he was ― he was absolutely honest about his past,” she says.

On the date, the two had a great time together, and when Tennon dropped Davis off at her home, he shared his feelings directly. “He just said, ‘You are a very beautiful and nice woman, and it was a pleasure spending time with you,’” she recalls. “And he shook my hand.”

Tennon left, but called Davis 20 minutes later.

“I said, ‘You got home already?’” Davis recalls. “He said, ‘No, I’m at the Ralph’s down the street, but I just wanted to tell you again what a great time I had and what a beautiful woman you are.’”

Twenty minutes later, Davis’ phone rang once more. “He called again: ’I just want to tell you I got home, and you are a beautiful woman. I’m about to go to sleep, and I just wanted to tell you to have a good night,” Davis says.

The rest, as they say, is history. 💗

*Originally posted on HuffPo.

 

#TuesdayTalk: Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm became the first African American congresswoman in 1968. Four years later, she became the first major-party African American candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency.

Who Was Shirley Chisholm?

Shirley Chisholm is best known for becoming the first black congresswoman (1968), representing New York State in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms. She went on to run for the 1972 Democratic nomination for the presidency—becoming the first major-party African-American candidate to do so. Throughout her political career, Chisholm fought for education opportunities and social justice. Chisholm left Congress in 1983 to teach. She died in Florida in 2005.

Early Years and Career

Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill on November 30, 1924, in a predominantly black neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Chisholm spent part of her childhood in Barbados with her grandmother. After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1946, she began her career as a teacher and went on to earn a master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University.

Chisholm served as director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center from 1953 to 1959, and as an educational consultant for New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare from 1959 to 1964.

First African American Congresswoman

In 1968, Chisholm made history by becoming the United States’ first African American congresswoman, beginning the first of seven terms in the House of Representatives.

After initially being assigned to the House Forestry Committee, she shocked many by demanding reassignment. She was placed on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, eventually graduating to the Education and Labor Committee. Chisholm became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969 and championed minority education and employment opportunities throughout her tenure in Congress.

972 Presidential Campaign

Chisholm went on to make history yet again, becoming the first African American and the second woman to make a bid for the U.S. presidency with a major party when she ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972.

In announcing her bid, Chisholm said, “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 the candidate of the people, and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history.”

Books and Later Career

Chisholm authored two books during her lifetime: Unbought and Unbossed (1970), which became her presidential campaign slogan, and The Good Fight (1973).

After leaving Congress in 1983, she taught at Mount Holyoke College and was popular on the lecture circuit.

Death and Legacy

Chisholm died on January 1, 2005, at the age of 80, in Ormond Beach, Florida. Nearly 11 years later, in November 2015, she was posthumously awarded the distinguished Presidential Medal of Freedom.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH IS BACK!!

FEBRUARY HAS STARTED! This is the time of year when I talk about Black history & all the contributions Africans Americans have made to America. I really think that the accomplishments of my people should be highlighted all year long, so I do my part by sharing notable African Americans history every week even after Black History Month is over. And since it is February, I will still share articles on dating & relationships!

#TuesdayArt: Henry Ossawa Tanner

The most distinguished African-American artist of the nineteenth century, Henry Ossawa Tanner was also the first artist of his race to achieve international acclaim. Tanner was born on June 21, 1859, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Benjamin Tucker and Sarah Miller Tanner. Tanner’s father was a college-educated teacher and minister who later became a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopalian Church. Sarah Tanner was a former slave whose mother had sent her north to Pittsburgh through the Underground Railroad. Tanner’s family moved frequently during his early years when his father was assigned to various churches and schools. In 1864 Tanner’s family settled in Philadelphia where his early artistic interests were developed. At age thirteen, Tanner decided to become an artist when he saw a painter at work during a walk in Fairmount Park near his home. Throughout his teens, Tanner painted and drew constantly in his spare time and tried to look at art as much as possible in Philadelphia art galleries. He also studied briefly with two of the city’s minor painters.

Eager to discourage his son’s interest in art, Bishop Tanner apprenticed him to a friend to learn the milling business. For Tanner, a frail young man whose health was never strong throughout his life, the work in the flour mill proved too strenuous and he became seriously ill. His parents encouraged his painting during his recuperation, and Tanner lived at home during the next few years except for several trips to the Adirondack Mountains and Florida for his health. In 1880, when Tanner was twenty-one, he enrolled in the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. There he studied with a group of master professors including Thomas Eakins. It was Eakins who exerted the greatest influence on Tanner’s early style. Tanner left the Pennsylvania Academy prior to graduating to pursue the idea of combining business with art. In 1888 he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and established a modest photography gallery where he attempted to earn a semiartistic living by selling drawings, making photographs, and teaching art classes at Clark College. In spite of his combined efforts, Tanner’s Atlanta venture barely profited enough to provide living expenses.

In Atlanta, Tanner met Bishop and Mrs. Joseph Crane Hartzell, who became his primary white patrons over the next several years. In the summer of 1888 Tanner sold his small gallery and moved to Highlands, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he hoped to study and earn a living by his photography. He also felt that the mountains would be good for his delicate health. While there, Tanner may have made many sketches and photographs of the region and its African-American residents, some of which were later used as subjects in his most important early paintings.

In the fall of 1888, Tanner returned to Atlanta and taught drawing for two years at Clark College. After discussing his ambitions to travel abroad with Bishop and Mrs. Hartzell, they arranged an exhibition of Tanner’s works in Cincinnati in the fall of 1890. When no paintings were sold, the Hartzells bought the entire collection. This endowment allowed Tanner to sail for Rome in January 1891. After brief stays in Liverpool and London, Tanner arrived in Paris. He was so impressed by this center of art and artists that he abandoned his plans to study in Rome.

In Paris, Tanner enrolled in the Académie Julian where the painters Jean Paul Laurens and Jean Joseph Benjamin-Constant were among his teachers. It was not long before he painted two of his most important works depicting African-American subjects, The Banjo Lesson of 1893 and The Thankful Poor of 1894. During the summers of 1892 and 1893, Tanner left Paris and lived in isolated rural areas in Brittany. His best-known paintings from that period are The Bagpipe Lesson of 1894 and The Young Sabot Maker of 1895. Both depict French peasants, and Tanner assimilated the inhabitants of his rural French environment into his works as he had done previously in the mountains of Highlands, North Carolina.

In 1895, Tanner painted Daniel in the Lion’s Den, which won an honorable mention in the Paris Salon the same year. Two years later he completed Resurrection of Lazarus, which so impressed Rodman Wanamaker, a Philadelphia merchant in Paris, that he decided to finance the first of Tanner’s several trips to the Holy Land. Before leaving, Tanner sent his Resurrection of Lazarus to the Paris Salon where it was awarded a third class medal and was purchased by the French government for exhibition at the Luxembourg Gallery and eventually entered the collection of the Louvre.

Spurred by his newly found acclaim, Tanner visited Philadelphia for several months in 1893. The visit, however, convinced him that he could not fight racial prejudice. Tanner returned to Paris and focused on painting religious subjects and landscapes. In 1899 Tanner married Jessie Olssen, a white opera singer from San Francisco, whom he had met in Paris. The couple’s only child, Jesse Ossawa, was born in New York in 1903. Their marriage may have influenced Tanner’s decision to settle permanently in France, where the family divided its time between Paris and a farm near Étaples in Normandy.

During the final decades of Tanner’s career he enjoyed consistent acclaim. In 1900, his 1895 painting, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, was awarded a silver medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris; the following year it received a silver medal at the Pan American exhibition in Buffalo.

In 1908 his first one-man exhibition of religious paintings in the United States was held at the American Art Galleries in New York. Two years later, Tanner was elected a member of the National Academy of Design. In 1923 he was made an honorary chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor, and in 1927 he became a full academician of the National Academy of Design, the first African American to receive that honor. In his later years, Tanner was a symbol of hope and inspiration for African-American leaders and young black artists, many of whom visited him in Paris. On May 25, 1937, Tanner died at his home in Paris.

 

#MeterologyMonday: Al Roker

Born in 1954 in New York City, Al Roker began his career as a weatherman while attending the State University of New York at Oswego. He joined WNBC-TV in 1983, undertaking increasingly high-profile assignments until joining The Today Show as an anchor in 1996. Roker has also hosted a morning program for The Weather Channel, founded a production company and authored multiple best-selling books.

Early Years and Career

Weatherman and television personality. Born Albert Lincoln Roker Jr. on August 20, 1954, in New York City. The oldest of six children born to parents Albert Sr. and Isabel, Roker grew up in the St. Albans section of eastern Queens. He was drawn to television as a child, though he mainly imagined himself as an animator or a director, and never expected to become a featured performer.

After attending Manhattan’s Xavier High School, where he was a member of the AV squad, Roker studied communications at the State University of New York at Oswego. He took a meteorology course to fulfill a science requirement, and with help from his department chairman he secured a weekend weatherman gig at a CBS affiliate in nearby Syracuse. Roker continued with the station through his senior year, earning his B.A. in 1976.

After graduation, Roker moved to Washington, D.C. to deliver the weather for the Metromedia station WTTG. During this time, he met veteran television personality Willard Scott, who became a key figure in the young weatherman’s developing career. Roker then went to work in Cleveland in 1978, remaining with NBC affiliate WKYC-TV for five years.

Broadcasting Fame

Upon returning to New York City in 1983, Roker served as the weekend weatherman for WNBC-TV’s flagship station. An engaging, jovial presence, he soon moved to weeknight broadcasts, and began appearing regularly as a substitute on such programs as NBC News at Sunrise and The Today Show. He was named co-host of NBC’s annual Christmas at Rockefeller Center special in 1985, and eventually signed on for coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Roker received a career boost when Scott stepped down from The Today Show and recommended his protégé as his replacement. Roker officially joined the popular morning program as featured anchor and weatherman in January 1996, a role that gave him the opportunity to expand his national profile. Along with reporting from the site of natural disasters like the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Roker conducted interviews with such famed individuals as longtime Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz.

Popular TV personality, author and producer Al Roker began his professional career as a weatherman before becoming an anchor for ‘The Today Show’ in 1996.

Synopsis

Born in 1954 in New York City, Al Roker began his career as a weatherman while attending the State University of New York at Oswego. He joined WNBC-TV in 1983, undertaking increasingly high-profile assignments until joining The Today Show as an anchor in 1996. Roker has also hosted a morning program for The Weather Channel, founded a production company and authored multiple best-selling books.

Early Years and Career

Weatherman and television personality. Born Albert Lincoln Roker Jr. on August 20, 1954, in New York City. The oldest of six children born to parents Albert Sr. and Isabel, Roker grew up in the St. Albans section of eastern Queens. He was drawn to television as a child, though he mainly imagined himself as an animator or a director, and never expected to become a featured performer.

After attending Manhattan’s Xavier High School, where he was a member of the AV squad, Roker studied communications at the State University of New York at Oswego. He took a meteorology course to fulfill a science requirement, and with help from his department chairman he secured a weekend weatherman gig at a CBS affiliate in nearby Syracuse. Roker continued with the station through his senior year, earning his B.A. in 1976.

After graduation, Roker moved to Washington, D.C. to deliver the weather for the Metromedia station WTTG. During this time, he met veteran television personality Willard Scott, who became a key figure in the young weatherman’s developing career. Roker then went to work in Cleveland in 1978, remaining with NBC affiliate WKYC-TV for five years.

Broadcasting Fame

Upon returning to New York City in 1983, Roker served as the weekend weatherman for WNBC-TV’s flagship station. An engaging, jovial presence, he soon moved to weeknight broadcasts, and began appearing regularly as a substitute on such programs as NBC News at Sunrise and The Today Show. He was named co-host of NBC’s annual Christmas at Rockefeller Center special in 1985, and eventually signed on for coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Roker received a career boost when Scott stepped down from The Today Show and recommended his protégé as his replacement. Roker officially joined the popular morning program as featured anchor and weatherman in January 1996, a role that gave him the opportunity to expand his national profile. Along with reporting from the site of natural disasters like the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Roker conducted interviews with such famed individuals as longtime Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz.

With the launch of Al Roker Entertainment, Inc. in 1994, the newsman began producing programs for several prominent networks, including Discovery, Lifetime, Spike and A&E. He scored successes with the Food Network’s Roker on the Road, in which he traversed the country to report on local culinary favorites, and the PBS severe-weather series Savage Skies. Roker’s cheerful personality also made him a natural fit for the role of game show host, with Remember This? and Celebrity Family Feud among his credits, and he appeared as himself on the popular shows Seinfeld, Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock.

Roker shouldered additional morning duties as co-host of The Weather Channel’s Wake Up with Al show from July 2009 through October 2015. He has since moved to The Lift, a shorter program for the network’s mobile app, and has focused efforts on the development of digital properties and content with the foundation of Al Roker Labs.

The accomplished newsman has won more than a dozen Emmy Awards, is a recipient of the American Meteorological Society’s Seal of Approval and has twice been named New York magazine’s Best Weatherman. Roker is also a Guinness World Record holder, earning that distinction after delivering a 34-hour live weather broadcast for charity in November 2014. In June 2015, he was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Other Endeavors and Personal

In addition to his television and production work, Roker is a prolific author. His first book, Don’t Make Me Stop This Car: Adventures in Fatherhood (2000), became a New York Times best seller, and he followed with multiple cookbooks. Roker later teamed up with Dick Lochte to write The Morning Show Murders (2009), the first in a series of murder-mystery novels starring celebrity chef Billy Blessing.

In 2002, Roker underwent a highly publicized gastric bypass surgery to lose weight, dropping 100 pounds just eight months following the surgery. Underscoring his commitment to the fight against obesity, he successfully completed the New York City marathon in 2010.

Roker met television journalist Deborah Roberts when the two appeared on an episode of Today in 1990. Married in September 1996, they live in Manhattan and have two children, Leila and Nicky. Roker also has a daughter, Courtney, from a previous marriage.

 

#SaturdayStamps: Ethel L. Payne

Pioneering journalist Ethel Lois Payne was born on August 14, 1911 in Chicago, Illinois to William A. Payne and Bessie Austin. Known as the “First Lady of Black Press” for her extensive list of accomplishments as a writer, journalist, and reporter, Payne, according to her colleagues, asked questions no one else dared to ask.

Payne attended Lindblom High School which was located in a white Chicago neighborhood. Despite the unwelcoming environment, she became an accomplished student in her English and history courses. One of her English teachers encouraged Payne to write and helped her with her first submission to a magazine.  The article was subsequently published. Payne pursued higher education at Crane Junior College and Garrett Biblical Institute, graduating from the latter institution in 1933. Upon graduation she decided to become a lawyer. The University of Chicago Law School, however, refused to accept her application because of her race.

Payne never became a lawyer.  Nonetheless, she devoted the rest of her life and career to racial justice issues.  In 1948, Payne responded to a Red Cross call-for-action to serve American forces in Japan and became a hostess for a military services social club. While in Japan, she met a reporter from the Chicago Defender, an African-American newspaper, and allowed him to take her journal back to his editors. Impressed by her writing, the newspaper used her journal notes to formulate an article about racially discriminatory practices in the U.S. military in Japan.  The article, the first of a series, was published on the front page of the Defender. In 1951, Payne was hired full-time by the Chicago newspaper and became the first African American woman to focus on international news coverage in addition to her national assignments.

Payne pursued assignments around the world. In 1955, she attended the Bandung Conference with the writer Richard Wright.  She covered the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington. In 1966, she reported from Vietnam. and the following year she covered the Biafran War.  Her interviews with prominent leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Nelson Mandela, and Senator John F. Kennedy made her a widely known and prominent global reporter.

In 1955, Payne was one of only three black journalists to cover the White House.  During one White House press conference she asked President Dwight D. Eisenhower what he was going to do to address racial disparities in the United States. His angry response made front page news the next day, but it also pushed civil rights issues to the top of the agenda for Eisenhower’s Administration and those that followed him. Her critiques carried significant influence at a time when U.S. State Department eagerly sought to depict to leaders around the world, and particularly in the new countries of Africa, the idea that American race relations were amicable.

After working with the Defender for 25 years, Payne in 1972 became the first African American woman to serve as a radio and television commentator when she was hired by CBS News. Throughout the 1980s she reported on apartheidin South Africa and worked for the release of Nelson Mandela.

Ethel Payne died at the age of 79 after a heart attack in Washington, D.C. on May 29, 1991. Her many honors included an award from the Capital Press Club in 1967 for her reporting during the Vietnam War and the TransAfrica African Freedom Award in 1987.