Today In Black History February 17
Born in Cairo, Illinois, on February 17, 1918, Charles Arthur Hayes graduated from Cairo’s Sumner High School in 1935. After high school, Hayes worked in Cairo as a machine operator. His long career of union activism began when he helped organize Local 1424 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Hayes served as president of this organization from 1940 to 1942. In 1943, he joined the grievance committee of the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA) and became a UPWA field representative in 1949. He served as district director for the UPWA’s District One from 1954 to 1968. From 1979 until his retirement in September 1983, Hayes served as the international vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.2 As a trade unionist, he promoted increased benefits and improved conditions for workers, fought to eliminate segregation and discrimination in hiring and promotion in industry, and provided African-American and women workers with opportunities to serve as leaders in the labor movement. Twice widowed and once divorced, Hayes had four children
Jim Brown was born February 17, 1936, in St. Simons, Georgia. Brown was an outstanding American professional gridiron football player who led the National Football League (NFL) in rushing for eight of his nine seasons. He was the dominant player of his era and one of the small number of running backs rated as the best of all time. (read more)
On this date in 1938 Mary Frances Berry was born. She is an African-American lawyer, administrator, activist and author.
Berry was born in Nashville, Tennessee, where she attended public schools. She earned bachelors and master’s degrees at Howard University, a doctorate in history from the University of Michigan, and the jurist doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School. She is a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia.
Dr. Berry has received 28 honorary doctoral degrees and many awards for her public service and scholarly activities, including the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins Award, the Rosa Parks Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Ebony Magazine Black Achievement Award. She is one of 75 women featured in I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America. Sienna College Research Institute and the Women’s Hall of Fame designated her one of “America’s Women of the Century.” Dr. Berry was Chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder where she was also professor of History and Law. (read more)
Huey P. Newton was born February 17, 1942, in Monroe, Louisiana. The youngest of seven children, Huey was named for former Louisiana governor Huey Pierce Long. The Newton family moved to Oakland, California, in 1945 to take advantage of the job opportunities created by World War II wartime industries. In Oakland the family moved often, and in one house Huey was compelled to sleep in the kitchen. Even though the Newton’s were poor and victims of discrimination and segregation, Huey contends that he never felt deprived as a child and that he never went hungry. (read more)
Professional basketball player Michael Jordan was born February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn. Jordan left college after his junior year to join the NBA. Drafted by the Chicago Bulls, he helped the team make it to the playoffs. For his efforts there, he received the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. With five regular-season MVPs and three All-Star MVPs, Jordan became the most decorated player in the NBA. (read more)
USS Jesse L. Brown was named in honor of Ensign Jesse LeRoy Brown, USN, who became the first African-American Naval Aviator in 1948.
USS Jesse L. Brown, a 3963-ton Knox class escort ship built at Westwego, Louisiana, was commissioned in February 1973. In July 1975, she was reclassified as a frigate and designated FF-1089. Her career was spent with the Atlantic Fleet, and included several deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf and northern European waters. Jesse L. Brown also participated in two joint operations with Latin American Navies, UNITAS XX in 1979 and UNITAS XXX a decade later. During the later 1980s and early 1990s, she engaged in counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean area. (read more)
“Carry Me Back to Ol’ Virginny” became Virginia’s official state song in 1940. It had been written in 1875 by James A. Bland, a distinguished African American composer and musician from New York who wrote over 700 songs, including “Oh Dem Golden Slippers” and “In the Evening by the Moonlight.” Because of continuing controversy about the song’s outdated and racially charged lyrics, the 1997 Virginia General Assembly designated “Carry Me Back” as Virginia’s “state song emeritus” and thereby essentially relegated it to history. As a practical matter, though, the state had not had a state song for more than twenty years, since “Carry Me Back” had rarely been played at public events. (read more)
Obama focused on the $787 billion stimulus plan, an ambitious package of federal spending and tax cuts designed to revive the economy and save millions of jobs. Most wage-earners will soon see the first paycheck evidence of tax breaks that will total $400 for individuals and $800 for couples.
The stimulus package was a huge victory for Obama less than one month into his presidency. But he struck a sober tone and lowered expectations for an immediate turnaround in the severe recession that is well into its second year.
“None of this will be easy,” he said. “The road to recovery will not be straight. We will make progress, and there may be some slippage along the way.” (read more)