Recognition of African American Black achievements, accomplishments and honors for each day in the month of February.
FRANK EMMANUEL PETERSEN
1st African-American Marine Corps Brigadier General
February 23, 1979
On February 23, 1979, he was promoted to brigadier general, becoming the first African-American general in the Marine Corps. In May 1983, he advanced to the rank of major general and on 12 June 1986, he was promoted to lieutenant general.
Frank E. Petersen Jr. was a United States Marine Corps Lieutenant General. He was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general.
Petersen retired from the Marine Corps in 1988 after 38 years of service. “At the time of his retirement he was by date of aviator designation the senior ranking aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps and the United States Navy with respective titles of ‘Silver Hawk’ and ‘Gray Eagle’. His date of designation as an aviator also precedes all other aviators in the U.S. Air Force and Army.
On November 9, 2016, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus officially announced that an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, DDG-121, would be named in honor of Petersen. On Feb 21, 2017, the keel was laid for the future guided-missile destroyer USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. DDG 121 at Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard, Pascagoula, MS.
DJ JAZZY JEFF & THE FRESH PRINCE
Wins First Grammay Award for Best Rap Performance
February 22, 1989
The group received the first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1989 for “Parents Just Don’t Understand” (1988), though their most successful single was “Summertime” (1991), which earned the group their second Grammy and peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Will Smith and Jeff Townes are still friends and claim that they never split up, having made songs under Smith’s solo performer credit. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince have sold over 5.5 million albums in the US.
Jeff Townes and Will Smith were introduced to each other by chance in 1985. One night, Townes was performing at a house party only a few doors down from Smith’s residence, and he was missing his hype man. Smith decided to fill in. They both felt strong chemistry, and Townes was upset when his hype man finally made it to the party. the duo were brought to the attention of Jive Records and Russell Simmons. The duo’s first album, Rock the House, which was first released on Word Up in 1986 debuted on Jive in March of 1987. The album sold about 300,000 units. That same year, the band found themselves on their first major tour with Run DMC, Public Enemy, and others.
Due to a self-admitted spendthrift attitude, Smith felt he had nothing to lose when a producer from NBC and Quincy Jones approached him with an idea for a sitcom, with Townes appearing as a recurring character, named “Jazz”. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air boosted his profile and his pocketbook. Smith blew through almost 2.8 million dollars, while giving none to the IRS for taxes. Soon after And in This Corner… was released, Smith was sentenced by the IRS to pay this all back. For the first three seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith had 25% of his paycheck garnished by the IRS.
Smith began to pursue acting full-time. He played his first lead film role in 1993’s Six Degrees of Separation. The 1996 blockbuster Independence Day cemented him as a major draw, and he left the Fresh Prince sitcom that same year. He and Townes ended up being sued by Jive, who alleged that the duo was still under contract to create more albums. In an interview, Smith has stated that while shooting Men in Black he approached Jive with the “Men in Black” single; they turned him down, saying that it couldn’t be a hit. In the aftermath of the movie and soundtrack’s success, the duo settled the lawsuit out of court. Hence, their greatest hits compilation includes two cuts from the M.I.B. soundtrack.
American Singer, Songwriter, Pianist, Arranger & Civil Rights Activist
Nina Simone worked in a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.
To make a living, Eunice Waymon changed her name to “Nina Simone”. The change related to her need to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play “the devil’s music” or “cocktail piano” at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, and this effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. Simone’s musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.
Simone was the recipient of a Grammy Hall of FameAward in 2000 for her interpretation of “I Loves You, Porgy.” She has also received fifteen Grammy Award nominations. On Human Kindness Day 1974 in Washington, D.C.,, more than 10,000 people paid tribute to Simone. Simone received two honorary degree in music and humanities, from the University of Amherst and Malcolm X College. She preferred to be called “Dr. Nina Simone” after these honors were bestowed upon her.
Two days before her death, Simone was awarded an honorary degree by the Curtis Institute of Music, the music school that had refused to admit her as a student at the beginning of her career. In 2002, the city of Nijmegen, Netherlands, named a street after her, the Nina Simone straat; she had lived in Nijmegen between 1988 and 1990. On August 29, 2005, the city of Nijmegen, concert hall De Vereeniging, and more than fifty artists (amongst whom were Frank Boeijen, Rood Adeo, and Fay Claassen) honoured Simone with the tribute concert Greetings from Nijmegen.
Simone was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 2010, a statue in her honor was erected in Trade Street in her native Tryon, North Carolina.
MALCOLM X ASSASSINATED
February 21, 1965
MINISTER & ACTIVIST
was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.
Malcolm X was effectively orphaned early in life. His father was killed when he was six and his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was thirteen, after which he lived in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for larceny and breaking and entering. While in prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam, and after his parole in 1952, quickly rose to become one of the organization’s most influential leaders
1st Bahamian & African American Male
To Win An Academy Award For Best Actor, 1964
The significance of these achievements was bolstered in 1967, when he starred in three successful films, all of which dealt with issues involving race and race relations: To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, making him the top box-office star of that year. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Poitier among the Greatest Male Stars of classic Hollywood cinema, ranking 22nd on the list of 25.
From 1997 to 2007, he served as the non-resident Bahamian ambassador to Japan. On August 12, 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presedential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama. In 2016, he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding lifetime achievement in film.
In the early years, Poitier joined the North American Negro Theatre, but was rejected by audiences. Contrary to what was expected of African American actors at the time, Poitier’s tone deafness made him unable to sing. Determined to refine his acting skills and rid himself of his noticeable Bahamian accent, he spent the next six months dedicating himself to achieving theatrical success.
Poitier was the first male actor of African descent to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award (for The Defiant Ones, 1958). Poitier began to be criticized for being typecast as over-idealized African American characters who were not permitted to have any sexuality or personality faults, such as his character in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Poitier was aware of this pattern himself, but was conflicted on the matter. He wanted more varied roles; but he also felt obliged to set an example with his characters, by challenging old stereotypes as he was the only major actor of African descent being cast in leading roles in the American film industry, at that time. For instance, in 1966, he turned down an opportunity to play the lead in an NBC production of Othello with that spirit in mind.
THE BODY COMPETITION
FORMER MISS USA VS TENNIS ICON
KENYA MOORE VS. SERENA WILLIAMS
‘Kiss The Ring’
28 DAYS OF FEBRUARY
Daily Calendar Posts!
Recognition of African American Black achievements, accomplishments and honors for each day in the month of February.
INITIATED INTO THE U.S. ARMED FORCES
February 19th, 1942
On this date in 1942, the Tuskegee Airmen were initiated into the armed forces.
The Tuskegee Airmen were Black servicemen of the U. S. Army Air Forces who trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama during World War II. They constituted the first African-American flying unit in the U. S. military. In response to pressure from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Black press, and others, the War Department in January 1941 formed the all-Black 99th Pursuit Squadron of the U. S. Army Air Corps (later the U. S. Army Air Forces), to be trained using single-engine planes at the segregated Tuskegee Army Air Field at Tuskegee, Ala.
992 pilots graduated from the Tuskegee airfield courses; they flew 1,578 missions and 15,533 sorties, destroyed 261 enemy aircraft, and won over 850 medals. The American army’s 100th pursuit squadron a group of Black aviators fought valiantly over Britain and other European countries.
Willie Rogers, the last surviving member of the original Tuskegee Airmen, died at the age of 101 on 18 November 2016 in St. Petersburg, FL following a stroke. Rogers was drafted into the Army in 1942 and was part of the 100th Air Engineer Squad. Rogers also served with the Red Tail Angels. He was wounded in action, shot in the stomach and leg by German soldiers, during a mission in Italy in January 1943. In 2007, President George W. Bush awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal.
KENYA MOORE CROWNED
2nd AFRICAN AMERICAN MISS USA
February 19, 1993
Moore was born in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of teenagers Patricia Moore and Ronald Grant, and was raised by her paternal grandmother and aunt after her mother abandoned her at birth. The reality TV show star revealed that her mother never named her. “Since birth, my mother made the decision at age 16 to pretend she never had me. She has never spoken to me,” Kenya wrote. “Even if present in the same room with other people and family, she pretends that I simply don’t exist. She pretends I’m invisible” Kenya revealed on her Bravo blog. She graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1989 and attended Wayne State University, where she majored in psychology and minored in communication. She began modeling at the age of 14 and in the course of her modeling career was the January 1992 cover girl for Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company’s Ebony Man’s (EM) magazine. She also became a model for the Ebony Fashion Fair cosmetic line. At 22, Kenya Moore won Miss Michigan USA (1993) and then became the second African American woman to win Miss USA.
Moore has produced several film projects, had a book published, and starred in her own exercise video.
1st Black Athlete To Win Winter Olympics Gold Medal
Speed Skating 1000 Meters
February 18th, 2006
At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Davis became the first black athlete to win a gold medal in an individual sport at the Olympic Winter Games, winning the speedskating 1000 meter event. He also won a silver medal in the 1500 meter event. At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, he duplicated the feat, becoming the first man to successfully defend the 1000 meter gold medal, and repeating as 1500 meter silver medalist.
Davis has set a total of nine world records, three of them current (through April 2016). Davis was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Reginald Shuck, picked his son’s name (Shani) out of a Swahili dictionary. The English translation is a mixture of “light” and “weight”.
1st WHITE PROTEST AGAINST SLAVERY BY QUAKERS
February 18th 1688
In 1688, five years after Germantown was founded, Pastorius and three other men petitioned the Dublin Quaker Meeting. The men gathered at Thones Kunders’s house and wrote a petition based upon the Bible’s Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” urging the Meeting to abolish. It is an unconventional text in that it avoids the expected salutation to fellow Quakers and does not contain references to Jesus and God. It argues that every human, regardless of belief, color, or ethnicity, has rights that should not be violated.
The practice of slavery continued and was tolerated in Quaker society in the years immediately following the 1688 petition. Some of the authors continued to protest against slavery, but for a decade their efforts were rejected. Germantown continued to prosper, growing in population and economic strength, becoming widely known for the quality of its products such as paper and woven cloth. Eventually several of the original Krefelders rejoined the Mennonites and moved away from Germantown at least in part because of their insistence not to side with slave-owners. Several other petitions and protests were written by Quakers against slavery in the next several decades, but were based on racist or practical arguments of inferiority and intolerance.
The 1688 petition was the first American of its kind that made a plea for equal human rights for everyone. It compelled a higher standard of reasoning about fairness and equality that continued to grow in Pennsylvania and the other colonies with the Declaration of Independence and the abolitionist and suffrage movements, eventually giving rise to Lincoln’s reference to human rights in the Gettysburg. The 1688 petition was set aside and forgotten until 1844 when it was re-discovered and became a focus of the burgeoning abolitionist movement in the United States. After a century of public exposure, it was misplaced and once more re-discovered in March 2005 in the vault at Arch Street Meetinghouse.
Jazz Pianist & Composer
October 10, 1917 – February 17th, 1982
Monk is the second most recorded jazz composer
was an Americanjazz pianist and composer. Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire.
He was renowned for his distinctive style in suits, hats, and sunglasses. He was also noted for an idiosyncratic habit observed at times during performances: while the other musicians in the band continued playing, he would stop, stand up from the keyboard, and dance for a few moments before returning to the piano.
Monk is one of five jazz musicians to have been featured on the cover of Time, after Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and Duke Ellington and before Wynton Marsalis. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz was established in 1986 by the Monk family and Maria Fisher. Its mission is to offer public school-based jazz education programs for young people around the globe, helping students develop imaginative thinking, creativity, curiosity, a positive self-image, and a respect for their own and others’ cultural heritage. In addition to hosting an annual International Jazz Competition since 1987, the Institute also helped, through its partnership with UNESCO, designate April 30, 2012, as the first annual International Jazz Day.
A different side of Monk is revealed in Lewis Porter’s biography, John Coltrane: His Life and Music; Coltrane states: “Monk is exactly the opposite of Miles [Davis]: he talks about music all the time, and he wants so much for you to understand that if, by chance, you ask him something, he’ll spend hours if necessary to explain it to you.“ Blakey reports that Monk was excellent at both chess and checkers.
The most influential African American of the nineteenth century
Abolitionist, Author, Lecturer, Orator, Statesman, Social Reformer
February 16th 1857
February 16, 1857- Frederick Douglass is elected President of Freedman Bank and Trust, a private corporation created by the U.S. government to foster economic growth among African Americans post Civil War.
Initially, the bank saw notable successes as a leading institution of African Americans who wanted a place to invest their money to ensure their financial stability for life after the U.S. slave era, however, bad investments and wrongdoing on the part of previous leadership at the bank led to its downfall. Today, the financial company’s archives are used as a valuable collection of information about the African American community and socio-economic life in the aftermath of emancipation.
Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all peoples, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was also a believer in dialogue and in making alliances across racial and ideological divides, and in the liberal values of the American Constitution. When radical abolitionists, under the motto “No Union With Slaveholders”, criticized Douglass’ willingness to dialogue with slave owners, he famously replied: “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”
Douglass’s best-known work is his first autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, published in 1845. At the time, some skeptics questioned whether a black man could have produced such an eloquent piece of literature. The book received generally positive reviews and became an immediate bestseller. Within three years, it had been reprinted nine times, with 11,000 copies circulating in the United States. It was also translated into French and Dutch and published in Europe.
In 1848, Douglass was the only African American to attend the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, in upstate New York. Elizabeth Cady Stanton asked the assembly to pass a resolution asking for women’s suffrage. Many of those present opposed the idea, including influential Quakers James and Lucretia Mott. Douglass stood and spoke eloquently in favor; he said that he could not accept the right to vote as a black man if women could not also claim that right. He suggested that the world would be a better place if women were involved in the political sphere.
NAT KING COLE
Passes away from Cancer
February 15, 1965
On Valentine’s Day Nat King Cole and his wife briefly left St. John’s to drive by the sea. He died at the hospital early in the morning of February 15, aged 45.
He was widely noted for his soft baritone voice, performing in big band and jazz genres, and was a major force in popular music for three decades. Cole was one of the first African Americans to host a national television variety show, The Nat King Cole Show. His recordings remained popular worldwide after his death
Cole was considered a leading jazz pianist, appearing in the first Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts (credited on the Mercury records label as “Shorty Nadine”—derived from his wife’s name—as he was under exclusive contract with Capitol Records at the time). His revolutionary lineup of piano, guitar, and bass in the era of the big band became a popular setup for jazz trios. It was emulated by many musicians, among them Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, and the blues pianists Charles Brown and Ray Charles.
In August 1948, Cole purchased a house from Col. Harry Gantz, the former husband of the silent film actress Lois Weber, in the all-white Hancock neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Ku Klux Klan, still active in Los Angeles well into the 1950s, responded by placing a burning cross on his front lawn. Members of the property-owners association told Cole they did not want any “undesirables” moving into the neighborhood. Cole retorted, “Neither do I. And if I see anybody undesirable coming in here, I’ll be the first to complain.”
Cole’s funeral was held on February 18 at St. James Episcopal Church on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles; 400 people were present, and thousands gathered outside the church. Hundreds of members of the public had filed past the coffin the day before. Notable honorary pallbearers included Robert F. Kennedy, Count Basie, Franck Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis, George Burns, Danny Thomas, Jimmy Durante, Alan Livingston, Frankie Laine, Steve Allen, and Pat Brown (the governor of California). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_King_Cole
MOREHOUSE COLLEGE FOUNDED
February 14, 1867
Morehouse is one of two historically black colleges in the country to produce Rhodes Scholars, and it is the alma mater of many African American leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Just two years after the American Civil War, the Augusta Institute was founded by Rev. William Jefferson White,, an Atlanta Baptist minister and cabinetmaker (William Jefferson White’s half brother James E. Tate, was one of the founders of Atlanta University, now known as Clark Atlanta University), with the support of the Rev. Richard C. Coulter, a former slave from Atlanta Georgia, and the Rev. Edmund Turney, organizer of the National Theological Institute for educating freedmen in Washington, D.C. The institution was founded to educate African American men in theology and education and was located in Springfield Baptist Church,(Augusta, Georgia), the oldest independent black church in the United States.
In May 2013, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president in three quarters of a century to deliver a commencement address in Georgia when he took part in Morehouse College’s 129th Commencement ceremony. Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a summer commencement address at the University of Georgia in 1938. President Obama received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Morehouse. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morehouse_College
NEW YORK RENAISSANCE BASKETBALL TEAM
FIRST PROFESSIONAL BLACK TEAM ESTABLISHED
February 13th 1923
The New York Renaissance, also known as the Renaissance Big Five and as the Rens, was an all-black professional basketball team established February 13, 1923, by Robert “Bob” Douglas in agreement with the Renaissance Casino and Ballroom. The Casino and Ballroom at 138th Street and Seventh avenue in Harlem was an entertainment complex including a ballroom that served as the Big Five’s home court. Following each game, a dance took place. The success of the Rens shifted the focus of black basketball from amateur teams to professional teams.
The Rens were one of the dominant basketball teams of the 1920s and 1930s. They were originally known as the Spartan Braves of Brooklyn. The team played its first game on November 3, 1923. That night the Rens played a team of white players; interracial games featured regularly on their schedule, drawing the largest crowds. In its first years, the team strove to beat the Original Celtics, the dominant white team of the time, and claim the title of world champions: in their fifth encounter, the Rens did so for the first time, on December 20, 1925. During the 1932-33 regular season, the Rens compiled a record of 120-8 (six of those losses came at the hands of the Celtics, who the Rens did beat eight times). During that season, the Rens won 88 consecutive games, a mark that has never been matched by a professional basketball team.
The Rens disbanded in 1949 after completing the 1948/49 season of the racially integrated National Basketball League as the Dayton Rens based in Dayton, Ohio. That was also the final season for the NBL, which merged with the all-white Basketball Association of America to form the also (initially) all-white National Basketball Association. The team left New York and moved to Dayton where it was renamed as Dayton Rens.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted the New York Renaissance collectively in 1963. Five of the Rens are individual members: Tarzan Cooper, Pop Gates, Nat Clifton, John Isaacs and founder and coach Bob Douglas. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Renaissance