Black History Month

HOT 93.7, Entercom Hartford, Price Chopper, and Market 32 are celebrating Black History Month all month long this February!

Moments in Black History
This month, we celebrate Black excellence with a spotlight on moments in Black History…

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was the first Black President of South Africa, and a legendary figure of the African National Congress (ANC). From 1964 to 1990, Mandela was imprisoned for opposing South Africa's white miniorty government, and its policy of racial separation known as apartheid. Instead of disappearing from view, Mandela became a martyr and a worldwide symbol of resistance to racism. In 1993, Mandela and the president who released him, Frederik Willem de Klerk. shared the Nobel Peace Prize. Mandela was elected the country's president in 1994. He served until 1999 when he was succeeded by his deputy Thabo Mbeki. Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, was published in 1994.

Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison gained international fame and won the National Book Award for his first novel Invisible Man in 1952, the story of an alienated and isolated Black man living in a racially repressive urban America. Ellison moved to New York City in 1936 and turned to writing, encouraged by other African American writers including Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. After his remarkable debut, Ellison was considered one of the most important writers in America. Ellison always maintained that in his book he was pursuing art more than he was pursuing racial justice. Although he lectured and published collections of essays, he wrote for 40 years on his second novel without finishing it. His literary executor and friend John Callahan put together the manuscript after Ellison died, and the novel was published as Juneteenth in 1999.

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman to be elected to the US Congress. She served as a representative from New York from 1969 until her retirement in 1982. Chisholm grew up in Barbados and also in New York City, where she earned a Graduate Degree from Columbia University in 1952. She taught school before entering the New York State Assembly in 1964, then won election to Congress in 1968. She ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1972, becoming the first African American woman to run for office. An opponent of the Vietnam War and proponent of education and child welfare, she received about 5% of the vote at the party's national convention. Chisholm wrote the memoirs Unbought and Unbossed and The Good Fight.

W.E.B. Dubois

In 1895, W.E.B. Dubois became the first African American to receive a Doctorate from Harvard University. A scholar and a political activist, Dubois was a University professor who in 1910 helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the 1940s and 50s, Dubois disagreed with Black leaders such as Booker T. Washington who urged integration into white society. Dubois championed global African unity and separatism. In 1961, he emigrated to Ghana and became a citizen. He was a prolific writer and a pioneering social scientist, whose most famous book The Souls of Black Folk, written in 1903, is still widely read.

Alex Haley

Alex Haley wrote Roots, one of the most celebrated novels of the 1970s. He spent 20 years in the Coast Guard, then began his second career as a writer, workng for magazines ranging from Reader's Digest to Playboy. Haley was a ghost writer on his first book, the autobiography of Malcom X, which was published in 1965 and became a major hit. He spent years tracing his own family back to a single African man, Kunta Kinte, who was captured in Ghambia and taken to America as a slave around 1767. That discovery lead to Haley's epic book, Roots, published in 1976 to wide acclaim. One year later, the television miniseries Roots ran for a week on network TV and became a national phenomenon. Roots won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.

bell hooks

bell hooks-- who spells her name without capital letters-- is one of the most widely published Black feminist scholars ever. An outspoken cultural critic, educational theorist, and professor of English, she analyzes the politics of race, gender, class, and culture, and stresses their connectedness. The term "White-Supremacist-Capitalist-Patriarchy," coined in Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black and used repeatedly in many of her books, is often quoted. She has taught at the University of Southern California, Oberin College, Yale University, and as a distinguished Professor of English at the City College of New York. Her pseudonym, her Great Grandmother's name, celebrates female legacies and is in lower case because, as she says, it is the substance of her books, not who is writing them, that is important.

Blanche Kelso Bruce

Blanche Kelso Bruce, the son of a Black slave and a White plantation owner, was the first African American to serve a full term in the US Senate. Bruce was born into slavery in Virginia, but escaped at the start of the Civil War and made his way to Ohio. After the War, he moved to Mississippi and became involved in local politics. In 1875, during the post-war Reconstruction Era, Bruce was elected by the Mississippi legislature to become one of the state's two US Senators. When his term was over in 1881, Bruce was appointed by President James Garfield to the office of Register of the Treasury. As such, Bruce was the first African American to be represented on US currency. Bruce also served as a recorder of deeds for Washington DC and again as the Register of the Treasury, where he served until his death in 1898.

Dr. Charles Drew

Dr. Charles Drew was the father of the modern blood bank. In 1940, he published a paper showing that by separating plasma from the rest of human blood, it could be stored for much longer periods of time. This discovery allowed the creation of blood banks, where donated plasma could be kept until urgently needed. Drew attended Dunbar High School and Amherst College, then Medical School at Montreal's McGill University. In 1941, he made his blood discoveries while doing graduate research at Columbia University. Drew became the medical director of the first Red Cross blood bank, and his discovery saved uncounted lives during World War II. Drew spent much of his later career teaching at Howard University in Washington DC, and also became Chief of Staff and Medical Director at nearby Freedman's Hospital. 

Eldridge Cleaver

Eldridge Cleaver helped found the militant group the Black Panthers in 1966, and became famously controversial as the group's outspoken Minister of Information. His 1968 book Soul On Ice, based on essays he had written in prison years earlier, cemented Cleaver's reputation as a spokesman for Black Power. The same year, he was wounded in a Panthers shootout with Oakland police. Cleaver jumped bail, fled to Algeria, and lived in exile there and in Paris. He returned to America in 1975. Paradoxically, in later years, Cleaver renounced his former radical views, became a born-again Christian, embraced conservative political causes, and even ran for political office as a Republican.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was a celebrated Botanist and inventor, at a time when it was still rare for African Americans to reach those heights. The son of a Missouri slave, Carver grew up to attend Iowa State University, earning a Bachelor's Degree in 1894 and a Master's in 1896. He then joined the faculty of Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute. His attempts to find crop alternatives to cotton lead him to the peanut, and eventually he created more than 325 products from the peanut, hoping to create demand for the plant and establish it as a major American crop. Carver also worked with sweet potatoes, soy beans, and pecans, among other plants, and is often credited with changing the face of agriculture in the American South.

Hank Aaron

Henry Hank Aaron, nicknamed "Hammering Hank," hit 755 Home Runs during his Major League career, making him America's all-time Home Run leader. Aaron hit number 715 on April 8, 1974, moving him past the record 714 career homers of Babe Ruth. Much like Roger Maris, Aaron was maligned by some fans who thought he was somehow unfit to purpass the migthy Ruth... racism played a part, as Aaron was Black, and he passed Ruth's record only 28 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Aaron retired after the 1976 season, holding the all-time Home Run and RBI records, and having played in a record 24 All-Star games. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, and published his autobiography, I Had a Hammer, in 1991.

Huey Newton

Huey Newton and fellow activist Bobby Seale founded the radical Black Panther party in 1966. Under their leadership, the group became a political force, both admired and feared for its aggressively militant stance. In 1967, Newton was arrested and charged with killing an Oakland police officer during a dispute, leading to a much-publicized "Free Huey" campaign organized by the Panthers. Hit 1968 conviction was overturned due to procedural errors. In 1973, Newton escaped other criminal charges by fleeing to Cuba. He returned in 1977, and in 1980, earned a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of California. His autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide, was published in 1973.

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson was the first African Aamerican of the modern era to play in Baseball Major Leagues. Only white players were accepted in the Majors until 1947 when Robinson was called up to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was named Rookie of the Year and went on to appear in six World Series in ten seasons with the Dodgers between 1947 and 1956. Other Major League teams soon followed Brooklyn's lead and hired Black players of their own. Robinson's stellar play and his role in breaking the color barrier lead to his 1962 induction as the first African American in Baseball's Hall of Fame. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his first year with the Dodgers, Major League Baseball permanently retired Robinson's uniform number 42.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes published more than three dozen books during his life, starting out with poetry and then expanding into novels, short stories, and plays. He is closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance, the flowering of African American literatuire and music in New York City, following World Wwar I. Hughes wrote poetry, books, and newspaper columns until the 1960s. Hughes' work often spoke about the lives of ordinary Black people, which in later years earned him a reputation as one of the major Black voices of the 1900s. His works include the poetry volumes The Weary Blues, Shakespeare in Harlem, the novel Not Without Laughter, and the short story collection The Ways of White Folks. He wrote two personal memoirs, The Big Sea and I Wonder As I Wander.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong was the most famous Jazz trumpeter of the 20th Century. Like Jelly Roll Morton, Armstrong began playing in New Orleans clubs and saloons in his early teens. By the 1920s, Armstrong was touring the country and leading his own band. He continued to tour and record throughout his life, and was particularly famous for his innovative, loose limbed improvisations; some called him the first great Jazz improviser. His gravely voice and sunny persona were a hit with the non-Jazz public, and later in his career he became a sort of cheerful ambassador of Jazz, even appearing as himself in movies like High Society. Armstrong's nickname "Satchmo" as an abbreviation of "Satchelmouth," a joke on the size of his mouth.

Jesse Jackson

Once an aide to Martin Luther King, Jr, Jesse Jackson has been a political activist and public figure since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Jackson, a Baptist minister, is the founder of the nonprofit organization PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), and he has several times been an unofficial US envoy in diplomatic missions. In 1999, he helped secure the release of three American military prisoners from Yugoslavia. He made unsuccessful runs for the Democratic nomination for US President in 1984 and 1988, losing to Walter Mondale in '84 and Michael Dukakis in '88. Both elections were ultimately won by Republican candidates.

Malcom X

Malcom Little adopted the Black Muslim faith and became a Minister of the Nation of Islam upon his release in 1952. As Malcom X, he was a charismatic advocate of Black separatism, who rejected Martin Luther King, Jr's policy of non-violence. Following a 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca, Malcom X converted to Orthodox Islam, took the name el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, and broke with the Black Muslims, who purportedly shot him to death in Harlem in 1965. The autobiography of Malcom X was published after his death in 1965, and became a best seller. The book was co-written by Alex Haley, later the author of Roots.

Marcus Garvey

Born and raised in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey traveled to Central and South America, then moved to England to continue his education. In 1914, he started the Universal Negro Improvement Association, and advocated for worldwide Black unity and an end to colonialism. In 1916, he moved to the United States and started a steamship company, the Black Star Line. The business venture was part of his Back-to-Africa plan for Americans of African descent. Through his skill as an orator and his newspaper Negro World, Garvey became the most influential Black leader of his time. Garvey eventually moved back to London, England, where he died in 1940. His body was returned to Jamaica in 1964.

Marion Anderson

Marion Anderson was 42 when she sang her legendary open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9th, 1939. Anderson was a famous conceirto of the day, and the concert was arranged after the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let her perform at Constitution Hall because she was Black. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest, and helped arrange the concert at the Lincoln Memorial. The concert is legendary in the American Civil Rights Movement, and despite her many other musical successes, became a signature moment in Anderson's long international career. Anderson broke many other color barriers, including becoming the first African American to sding at the White House and at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

Muhammad Ali

After winning numerous amateur titles, boxer Cassius Clay won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He went on to become the dominant heavyweight fighter of the 1960s and 70s, winning the World Title on three separate occasions. Clay later joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Citing his Islamic faith, Ali refused to serve in the US Military during the war in Vietnam. His title was revoked and he was sentenced to prison for Draft Evasion. The US Supreme Court reversed the conviction in 1971. Charismatic, outspoken, and nicknamed "The Greatest," Ali also defeated George Foreman in the famous 1974 Rumble In The Jungle. He retired from boxing in 1981, but has remained one of the world's best-known athletes.

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan became Secretary General of the United Nations in January 1997, succeeding Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt. Annan was a UN veteran who took his first job with the organization in 1962 and worked his way up through various posts including Deputy Director to the UN High Commission for Refugees, 1980 to 1983, and head of the UN's peacekeeping efforts from 1995 to 1996. Annan was the first Secretary General chosen from the ranks of the UN staff, the first Black man to hold the post, and the second African, after Boutros-Ghali. In 2001, Annan and the United Nations were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their ongoing work in global peace and cooperation.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman helped hundreds of American slaves escape along the secret route to freedom known as The Underground Railroad. Born a slave herself, she fled from Maryland to freedom in Philadelphia in 1849. For the next 10 years she made repeated trips back to Maryland, leading over 300 escaped slaves North to freedom in Canada. Her fame spread and she became a symbol of the anti-slavery movement, sometimes called “the Moses of her people.”

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was a former slave who became one of the greatest American anti-slavery leaders of the 1800s. Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland but in 1838, at age 20, he escaped to freedom in New York. At age 23 he went to work for Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, travelling and speaking on behalf of Garrison’s paper, The Liberator. In 1845, Douglass published his memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. An American slave, eloquent, smart, and determined, Douglass gained fame as a speaker, began his own anti-slavery publications and became a ‘conductor’ on The Underground Railroad. In later years, he became a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln and helped persuade Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He was also a strong supporter of women’s rights, and is often described as the founder of the American Civil Rights movement.

Maya Angelou

In the 1950s and 60s, Maya Angelou was a dancer and stage actress, as well as active in the Civil Rights movement (she had a leadership role thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr). She spent five years in Africa, working as a journalist and a teacher. Angelou returned to the United States and her 1970 autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, was nominated for a National Book Award. The next year, she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. Since then, Angelou has continued teaching, writing, acting, producing, recording (she won a GRAMMY in 1994), and collecting honorary degrees from across the United States. At his request, Angelou wrote a poem for Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration.

Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker was a free-born descendant of slaves who became a famous 18th Century Astronomer, Mathematician, and Surveyor. He is considered by many to be the first African-American scientist. Banneker was raised on a tobacco farm in rural Maryland, wheer he attended school but was largely self-taught in the sciences. Although Banneker worked most of his life as a farmer, his analytical and problem-solving skills have become legendary. At age 24, he figured out how to build a clock and constructed one out of wood; he taught himself Astronomy and published a popular almanac, Benjamin Banneker’s Almanac, from 1792 to 1797; he was appointed to assist in surveying the Federal Territory, the plot of land that was to become Washington, DC; he worked on calculating the precise measurement of the meter; and he corresponded with Thomas Jefferson on the issue of slavery and the intellectual equality of blacks.

Chuck Berry

Guitarist and singer Chuck Berry’s output from 1955 to 1965 includes some of the earliest classics in rock history, from “Maybellene” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Music” to “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Johnny B. Goode.” Berry began playing professionally in St. Louis  in the early 1950s. His 1955 hit “Maybellene” made him a national star, and he followed with a string of hit records that appealed to both black and white audiences… like his contemporary Little Richard, Berry is an African-American whose influence on Rock ‘n’ Roll was overshadowed by the popularity of white artists such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Nonetheless, he is recognized as one of the founders of Rock ‘n’ Roll music.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr was an African-American clergyman who advocated social change through non-violent means. His writings and public appearances shaped the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. A powerful speaker and a man of great spiritual strength, he became the public face of Civil Rights. In 1963 (the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation), King organized a march on Washington, DC that drew 200,000 people demanding equal rights for minorities. In 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming at the time the youngest recipient ever. He was shot to death by James Early Ray in 1968 while visiting Memphis, Tennessee.

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