Tag: Social Media

#FlybySaturday: Benjamin O. Davis Jr.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was born in Washington. D.C. on December 18, 1912, the son of Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. and Elnora Dickerson Davis. His father was a renowned military officer, the first Black General in the United States Army. Benjamin, Sr. served in various capacities (beginning in the Spanish-American war), including serving in one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments. Unfortunately, Elnora died from complications from childbirth in 1916 when Benjamin, Jr. was four years old.

When Benjamin, Jr. (hereinafter just Davis) was 13 years old, he attended a barnstorming exhibition at Bolling Field in Washington, D.C. (now Bolling Air Force Base). One of the pilots offered him the opportunity to accompany him on a ride in his plane. Benjamin enjoyed it so much that he became determined to pilot a plane himself one day.

With his father moving around in his military duties, he attended Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated in 1929. He enrolled Western Reserve University  (1929-1930) and later moved on to the University of Chicago (1930-1932). Still desiring to serve as a military pilot he contacted Illinois Representative Oscar De Priest (the first Black alderman in Chicago, and at the time, the only Black serving in Congress). De Priest sponsored him for a spot in the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. His time in the Academy was harsh, hostile and relentless in the challenges and obstacles it put in his way. Throughout his four years, none of his classmates would speak to him outside the line of duty. None would be his roommate and none would sit with him to eat. Nonetheless, he graduated in 1936, finishing 35th in his class of 278. When he received his commission as a second lieutenant in the infantry he became one of only two Black combat officers in the United States Army – the other being his father Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. Upon graduation, he married Agatha Scott, a young lady whom he had dated while attending the Academy.

Because of his high standing in his graduating class, Davis should have had his choice of assignments, but when he opted to apply for the Army Air Corps he was denied because the Air Corps did not have a Black squadron. He was instead assigned to the 24th Infantry Regiment, an all-Black division located in Fort Benning, Georgia. Although an officer, he was not permitted to enter the officers club on the base. After attending the U.S. Army Infantry School, he followed in his father’s footsteps and traveled to Tuskegee, Alabama to teach a military tactics course at the Tuskegee Institute. On June 19, 1939, he was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant and subsequently up to Captain, Major and then temporarily to Lieutenant Colonel (a rank he would hold permanently in June 1948).

Despite the prestige of being an instructor, Davis still wanted to fly. Fortunately, others had the same desire and pressure was mounted on the Roosevelt administration to allow for greater participation by Blacks as the country was moving towards war. The administration, therefore, directed the War Department to create a Black flying unit. To his delight, Davis was assigned to undergo training in the first class at the Tuskegee Army Air Field. In 1942 he finished his training and was one of only five Blacks to complete the course and then became the first Black Officer to make a solo flight in an Army Air Corps plane. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and in July 1942 he was assigned as the commander of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, known by history as the Tuskegee Airmen.

In 1943, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was assigned first to Tunisia, then to a combat mission in the German-held Island of Pantelleria and finally took part in the allied invasion of Sicily. In September, Davis was recalled to Tuskegee to take over a larger all-black unit preparing for combat in Europe, the 332nd Fighter Group.

Almost immediately, however, problems arose for Davis.  A number of Senior Army Air Corps officers complained to Army Chief of Staff George Marshall that the 99th Fighter Squadron had under-performed and should thereafter be taken out of combat. Major General Edwin House, Commander of the XII Air Support Command wrote in September 1943 that “the Negro type has not the proper reflexes to make a first-class fighter pilot.” A furious Davis argued that no information had been presented to him that showed anything to suggest that the Black fighter pilots had performed unsatisfactorily. He presented his case to the War Department and held a press conference at the Pentagon. General Marshall did call for an inquiry but allowed the 99th Squadron to continue to fight while the investigation continued. When the results of the inquiry came back, the 99th Squadron was vindicated and found to have performed similarly to other fighter squadrons. Any continuing arguments ceased in January 1944 when the 99th shot down 12 German fighters in a two day period.

Soon thereafter Colonel Davis and the 332nd Fighter Group arrived in Italy where they were based at Ramitelli Airfield. The 332nd, called the Red Tails because of the distinctive paint scheme on the tails of their planes, performed well as bomber escorts, often being requested by bomber pilots because of their insistence on not abandoning the bombers. The group would eventually move into the use of state of the art P-47 Thunderbolts.

Davis participated in numerous missions, flying in P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs. He was awarded the Silver Star for a mission in Austria and won the Distinguished Flying Cross for a bomber-escort mission to Munich, Germany in June, 1944.

In 1945, Colonel Davis was placed in charge of  477th Bombardment Group, the group being comprised entirely of Blacks, stationed at Godman Field in Kentucky. After the end of World War II, the new President Harry Truman dispatched an order to fully integrate the military branches. Colonel Davis was called upon to help draft the new “Air Force” plan for carrying out this order. For the next few years he was assigned to the Pentagon and to posts overseas. When the Korean War broke out, he once again participated in the fighting, manning a  F-86 fighter jet and leading the  51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing.

In the summer of 1949, Davis was assigned to attend the Air War College. He was the first Black permitted to attend the college and it was significant because further promotion was dependent upon successful graduation. Despite dealing with the racial climate in place in Montgomery, Alabama, where the War College took place, he persevered and excelled and upon graduation received an assignment to serve at the United States Air Force Headwaters at the Pentagon.

He next served as Director of Operations and Training at Far East Air Forces Headquarters, Tokyo and then was assigned the position of Vice Commander, Thirteenth Air Force and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, a rank not made permanent until after his temporary promotion to Major General. His assignments around the world became almost too numerous to list but included:

 

  • Assigned command of the 477th Composite Group at Godman Field, Kentucky
  • Assigned command of Lockbourne Army Air Base, Ohio
  • Assigned command of the 332nd Fighter Wing.
  • Named Chief of the Air Defense Branch of Air Force operations
  • Named Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  • Assigned command of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, Far East Air Forces, Korea.
  • Named as Director of Operations and Training at Far East Air Forces Headquarters, Tokyo
  • Named Vice Commander, Thirteenth Air Force, with additional duty as commander, Air Task Force 13 (Provisional), Taipei, Formosa.
  • Named Chief of Staff, Twelfth Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein, Germany.
  • Named Deputy Chief of Staff for operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany.
  • Named Director of Manpower and Organization, United States and Headquarters U.S. Air Force and Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Requirements.
  • Named Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Programs and Requirements.
  • Assigned as Chief of Staff for the United Nations Command and U.S. Forces in Korea.
  • Assigned command of the Thirteenth Air Force at Clark Air Base in the Republic of the Philippines.
  • Named Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. Strike Command, with headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
  • Named Commander in Chief, Middle-East, Southern Asia and Africa.

He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in May 1960 and to Major General in January 1962. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in April 1965 and retired from active duty on February 1, 1970 after more than 33 years of military service. Finally, on December 9, 1998, President Bill Clinton decorated him with a four-star insignia, advancing him to the rank of General, U.S. Air Force (Retired).

He did not slow down upon his retirement, instead moving on to other ways to serve. In 1970 he was put in charge of the Federal Sky Marshall Program and in 1971 was named Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Environment, Safety, and Consumer Affairs. In this role, he oversaw the creation and implementation of airport security and highway safety programs and procedures (this included the establishment of the 55 mile per hour speed limit to improve gas efficiency and to promote driver safety). After retiring from the Department of Transportation in 1975, he followed in his father’s footsteps again by serving on the American Battle Monuments Commission. Finally, in 1991 Davis wrote his memoirs, relating his challenges and achievements over the years in his book Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.: American.

General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. passed away on July 4, 2002 and was buried with full military honors on July 17, 2002 at Arlington National Cemetery (his wife Agatha had died earlier in the year). In addition to the honor of being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Davis received many accolades over the years included having a number of schools named after him. His military decorations include:

  • Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
  • Army Distinguished Service Medal
  • Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters
  • Philippine Legion of Honor
  • Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
  • Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
  • Silver Star
  • Distinguished Flying Cross

Whether it was in the skies or the classroom, whether training pilots or advising presidents, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. led of life of professionalism, dignity and achievement, never allowing racism and other obstacles to slow him down. In doing so, he opened avenues within the military for generations of soldiers and pilots who followed in his enormous footsteps.

 

 

 

#FitnessFridays: Jeanette Jenkins

Jeanette Jenkins is one of Hollywood’s most sought after Healthy Living Coaches with over 28years of experience, founder and President of The Hollywood Trainer LLC.  www.TheHollywoodTrainer.com  author of The Hollywood Trainer Weight-Loss Plan and creator of “The Hollywood Trainer Club”  www.TheHollywoodTrainerClub.com a Virtual Online Healthy Living & Weight Loss Club with everything you need to lose weight, get in shape & make healthy living a lifetime habit!  She is the creator of the internationally successful Hollywood Trainer DVD Collection with 18 DVD’s sold worldwide in 14 different countries and online and on her downloadable platform including Bikini Bootcamp, Power Yoga and CardioKickboxing.

Jeanette motivates millions of people daily through her social media platforms on Instagram @MsJeanetteJenkins, Facebook @MsJeanetteJenkins and Youtube workouts on PopSugar Fitness, App Workouts on Aaptiv & FitOn and through her online Club www.TheHollywoodTrainerClub.com with over 500+ Streaming Workouts and Challenges, over 150+ Healthy Recipes, Meal Plans, Community Support & Daily Motivation.

New for 2019 Jeanette has collaborated with Apple Inc. the world’s largest tech company to offer a Today at Apple “Health & Fitness Walk” with Jay Blahnik the senior director of health & fitness Technologies for Apple which is offered as a session globally in all Apple stores.

Her List of Celebrity clientele past and present is extensive and includes P!nk, Alicia Keys, Bebe Rexha, Mindy Kaling, Shonda Rhimes, Octavia Spencer, Simone Smith, Mara Brock Akil, Tia Mowry, Tracee Ellis Ross, Nia Long, Amber Rose, Kelly Rowland, Serena Williams, Terrence Jenkins, NBA Champion Chris Bosh, NFL Champion Bryant Mckinnie, Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast Shawn Johnson, Olympic Gold Medal Sprinter Carmelita Jeter and many more. 

She studied Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa and has earned over 18 international certifications covering nutrition and various methods of training. She is a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition recognized by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and Columbia University. 

Jeanette was born in Hollywood California and her parents divorced when she was 5 and was then raised in public housing in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada with her brother Roger and sister Camille. Jenkins was raised by a single mother and fitness is what kept her focused. A natural athlete, Jeanette found a safe haven in sports, one that taught her the value of discipline and team work, and most importantly instilled self confidence and a “can do” attitude. 

Jeanette benefited from social and community services as a child and dedicates her time and support to several non-profit organizations including The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, No Kid Hungry, School on Wheels, The Samburu Project,  Keep A Child Alive, Pretty Girls Sweat, Wome

n’s Sports Foundation, UNICEF and many more. Jeanette teamed up with one of her clients P!nk and UNICEF as the UNICEF Kid Power Coach to help promote UNICEF KID POWER which gets kids in the U.S. more active to save the lives of children who are malnourished around the world. Jeanette also rode 100miles on bike with P!nk to raise money and awareness for No Kid Hungry. In 2016 Jeanette ran the NYC Marathon to raise funds for “Keep A Child Alive” a non-profit organization co-founded by her client Alicia Keys to provide health care, medicine and support to children and families affected by HIV.  Most importantly Jeanette’s mission is to help everyone find the athlete inside them and enjoy the amazing benefits of healthy living!

#EntertainmentThursday: John Singleton

John Daniel Singleton was born on January 6, 1968, in Los Angeles, California. He grew up in South Central Los Angeles and his work as a film director, producer and screenwriter depicted these turbulent, often violent roots.

Singleton studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, winning three writing awards from the university, which led to a contract with Creative Artists Agency during his sophomore year.

In 1991, Columbia Pictures bought his script for Boyz n the Hood and budgeted it at $7 million. The film portrayed life in crime-ridden South Central L.A. and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director in 1991, making Singleton the first African-American and the youngest person ever nominated for the award. The film also garnered a nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Singleton followed the win with Poetic Justice in 1993 and Higher Learning in 1995. Both films examined modern race relations, and while they enjoyed success at the box office, they were not as highly praised by critics as his debut effort.

Subsequent works include 1997’s historical drama Rosewood, 2000’s Shaft remake starring Samuel L. Jackson and 2001’s Baby Boy. In 2005, he produced the critically acclaimed indie film Hustle & Flow and directed the box office hit Four Brothers.

In April 2019, Singleton suffered a stroke and was placed in a medically induced coma at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He passed away on April 29, 2019.

#SaturdayStamps: Larry Doby

On October 9, 1948, in the fourth inning of the fourth game in the World Series, a young man stepped up to the plate. His team, the Cleveland Indians, held a slim one run lead. The Indians held an equally slim one game lead. Before 82,000 people, the largest crowd ever to see a series game up till that time, and with no one on base and with two outs, the batter slammed the second pitch 420 feet over the right field wall. It proved to be the decisive run, providing a 2-1 win for the Indians. It also provided an overwhelming 3-1 lead in the series. Two games later the Indians shut out the Boston Braves on the road.

Larry Doby was the driving force behind the only Cleveland World Series Championship in the last half century. He also led the heroic drive to the pennant that year. In a race that came down to a playoff with the other Boston team, the Red Sox, Doby paced the team with a .396 batting average over the last 20 crucial games. His season average was .301.

Although Larry Doby had a stellar career in baseball–playing in six All-Star games, named to a seventh (1949-1955), playing in two World Series (1948 and 1954), home run leader in the American League in 1952, both the home run and RBI leader and runner-up to Yogi Berra for American League MVP in 1954, having the top fielding average of all full-time American League center fielders in 1954, and setting a major league record of 164 games without an error in 1954 and 1955 that stood for seventeen years–he will be remembered mostly as a quiet and proud pioneer. He became the second African-American to play major league baseball on July 5, 1947, following the much more flamboyant Jackie Robinson by only eleven weeks. He was the first African-American to play in the American League. Some years later he played another pioneering role, but again he was second. Following Frank Robinson, who was named manager for the Cleveland Indians in 1975, Doby replaced his old friend and former teammate, Bob Lemon, as manager of the Chicago White Sox in June of 1978.

Born in Camden, South Carolina in 1923, Lawrence Eugene Doby was the son of David and Etta Doby. David, a World War I veteran who worked in the horse industry as a groom, played baseball in his spare time and was known as a great hitter. Any influence on Larry’s baseball skills was indirect. David was away from home most of the time working in the North. Larry vaguely remembered his father playing ball but little else. David Doby died when Larry was only eleven years old. Etta also had little to do with Larry’s upbringing. She emigrated north to Paterson, New Jersey in search of work. Etta’s mother was in charge of Larry’s life during most of his early years, rearing him with strict discipline, regular church attendance, and reading and writing lessons before his formal education began. That changed when Larry’s grandmother began having mental problems, and Etta returned to move Larry into the home of her sister-in-law, where he lived for the next four years.

These few years living with the Cookes on Lyttleton Street in Camden were very happy and positive years for Larry. Residents still living there remember playing ball in the street in games where race did not matter (Robinson). His uncle, who was successful in construction, was a leader in the African-American community. Larry attended Mather Academy, where he had good teachers, heard lectures by Mary McLeod Bethune, and played organized baseball and other sports for the first time. He learned baseball from Richard DuBose, who was one of the best known figures in African-American baseball in the state for more than half a century. DuBose had also coached Larry’s father in the many games he organized. In 1938 Larry graduated from the 8th grade and his mother insisted that he move to Paterson to attend high school, where educational and economic opportunities were relatively greater for African-Americans. He never lived in South Carolina again.

Living with a friend of his mother in Paterson, Doby soon adjusted to a life that revolved around sports in the streets and in school. Only being able to see his mother on her one day off a week from domestic service, Doby never really had a family, but he found solace in sports. At the end of his high school career he had lettered in eleven sports and was an all-state performer in most of them. He began playing with the semi-professional and professional teams in both basketball and baseball. His talents were such that he even played a few games before graduation with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League. He played under an assumed name since high school students weren’t allowed to play. Following graduation, he played the summer of 1942 with the Eagles, batting .391 in the 26 games for which records exist.

Doby began college in September of 1942, but his college career quickly ended with a draft notice. Ironically, he was stationed at Camp Smalls in the Great Lakes, a station named after a fellow South Carolinian, Robert Smalls, a hero of the Civil War. There his physical prowess earned him an assignment as physical education instructor and plenty of playing time with sports teams that represented the camp. He spent the last year of the war on a coral reef in the Pacific both unloading ships and organizing recreational activities for other servicemen.

Discharged from the Navy in early 1946, Doby returned to professional baseball. He spent a winter season playing in Puerto Rico and then rejoined the Newark Eagles. There he played with some of the all-time greats: Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige (who would later be his roommate in Cleveland), Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe, both of whom would later play with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was not the top player in the league, but he was among the elite with a .348 batting average for the 1946 season. He helped lead his team to the Negro World Series title. The first half of the 1947 season Doby led the league with a .458 average. He did not finish the season–fate and Bill Veeck were about to change and challenge his life.

On July 3, 1947, after weeks of rumors, Larry Doby was told that he had been purchased by Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians. He made his playing debut two days later when he struck out pinch hitting, but barely missed on a line drive that was foul by inches. He received very limited playing time that first half season, appearing in only 29 games and batting 32 times, mostly as a pinch hitter.

The next year, the championship and World Series year, Doby came into his own. He was the first African-American to hit a home run in an All-Star game and was the first African-American to win a league home run crown. He is best remembered as a power hitter, who like other power hitters, did strike out a lot. In May of 1948 he hit what would have been one of the longest home runs in history, estimated at over 500 feet, had it not hit a loud speaker hanging high over the center field fence in Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. Almost exactly a year later he hit another home run over 500 feet. It cleared the scoreboard in right center field in the same ball park.

He should also be remembered as one of the best defensive center fielders in the game at the time, with a 164 game streak of flawless play in the field. On July 31, 1954, Doby made a catch that snatched a home run away by vaulting himself up the fence with his left hand while making the catch with his right hand, then falling back onto the field while hanging onto the ball. Dizzy Dean, who was broadcasting the game, declared it the greatest catch he had ever seen. In that year he led Cleveland to a record number of wins in the regular season, a record that stood till 1998 when the Yankees set a new mark.

After breaking an ankle while sliding into third base in 1959, Doby retired from baseball as a player. After an interlude of nearly ten years, which included briefly playing ball in Japan, running a business in Newark, and campaigning for Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 Presidential Campaign, Doby reentered professional baseball as hitting coach for the Montreal Expos in 1969. Thus began his second career. He proved to be a very effective coach with his ability to communicate with players and adapt instruction to their styles and abilities. His ambition was to be a manager, but no African-American had ever managed a major league team before. He nearly got the chance in 1975 with his old team, the Cleveland Indians. But the management chose Frank Robinson instead.

Three frustrating years later Doby was given a chance to manage. The opportunity came from the same man who had brought him into the white major leagues, Bill Veeck, who was then head of the Chicago White Sox. However, the opportunity was really only half a chance. Although Doby was able to improve the team’s performance, he did not have the players to win a pennant without a miracle. Most importantly to the owner, Doby did not improve ticket sales. Thus Veeck fired Doby and replaced him with a white manager whom he felt would draw in more of the White Sox’s mostly white fans. Doby then left baseball to work as director of community relations for the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association.

For all his feats in baseball, perhaps his greatest achievement lay outside the statistics that are such a central part of the culture of baseball. Larry Doby, without the months of preparation that helped Jackie Robinson endure his ordeal, endured two ordeals of his own. The first involved his entry into a hostile world where many wanted him to fail, and the second was being ignored by history because he was not the first to enter that world. Doby endured both without complaint, never saying anything about Jackie Robinson that could be construed as even hinting at jealousy. He endured with quiet pride and great dignity. When he first joined the Indians, some players refused to shake his hand. Doby has refused to ever say who they were. He and his family were forced to live apart from the team in Spring training camp because of segregation rules. He often had to stay in separate hotel facilities and eat in separate areas from the rest of his teammates. In one instance, after being tagged out at second base, the opponent spit in his face. Doby walked away, not giving in to the evil of prejudice.
Late in life Doby finally began to receive the recognition he had quietly earned. In 1994 the Cleveland Indians retired the number 14 he had worn in the ten seasons playing there. The 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland was dedicated to Larry Doby. He was honorary American League captain and threw out the first pitch for the game. About half a million dollars from the All-Star proceeds went to building a playground project in the city where he first played, the Larry Doby All-Star Playground. Finally, in July 1998, Doby was awarded a long overdue recognition, induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

#SaturdayStamps: Aaron Douglas

In both his style and his subjects, Aaron Douglas revolutionized African-American art. A leader within the Harlem Renaissance, Douglas created a broad range of work that helped to shape this movement and bring it to national prominence. Through his collaborations, illustrations, and public murals, he established a method of combining elements of modern art and African culture to celebrate the African-American experience and call attention to racism and segregation.

Key Ideas

Douglas depicted African subjects in an innovative and bold graphic style that was inspired by modern art, particularly Cubism. His approach elevated both everyday experiences and non-Western history to be part of an international avant-garde. He also integrated the rhythms of jazz into his compositions, adding an additional element of African-American culture to his imagery.
Flattening his figures to two-dimensional silhouettes and generalizing their forms to be generic men and women, Douglas created imagery that celebrated African and African-American themes in terms that were universal and integrative. He employed this style across a range of different media, including painting, illustration, murals, and prints.
Douglas often worked with a narrow range of colors, instead using compositional elements and shapes like concentric circles and radiating beams, to create dramatic focal points and dynamic movement. These abstract elements enhanced the narratives of his paintings to make them more emotionally impactful.
Through his work with the Harlem Artists Guild and as the chair of the art department at Fisk University (a historically black college), Douglas worked to increase educational access and career opportunities for young African-American artists. He was an important mentor for second-generation Harlem Renaissance artists and an inspiration to contemporary artists who deal with race and identity in their work.