"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." ~ James Baldwin
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
P O Box 1752 Paris TX 75461 ~ 903.783.9232 ~ naacp6213@yahoo.com
Meets First Thursday of Each Month at 6:00 PM ~ 121 E Booth

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Black Music Month

Billy Preston
"Music can tell a story, assuage our sorrows, provide blessing and redemption, and express a soul's sublime and powerful beauty. It inspires us daily, giving voice to the human spirit" ~ President Barack Obama, quoted in Black Music Month: How We Do. (Check this site out for a great article on the 31-year history of Black Music Month and the legacy of the music of the African Diaspora.)

On this last day of BMM -- as if tomorrow morning we're all going to wake up with an uncontrollable urge to download The Osmonds or, um, Lady Antebellum -- here are songs by artists born and/or currently living in Texas.

Erykah Badu, Dallas

Albert Collins, Houston

Beyonce, Houston

Billy Preston, Houston

Charley Pride, Dallas

Barry White, Galveston

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bill Pickett

"The most famous black cowboy entertainer in American history", Bill Pickett was born December 5, 1870 in the Jenks-Branch community of Williamson County. He began ranch work at the age of nine. He soon became known for performances at county fairs, including his innovation of bulldogging, or throwing a steer to the ground by grabbing the horns.

With his brothers he formed the Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters and Rough  Riders Association, performing throughout the west. In 1905 he joined the 101Wild West Shows based at the 101 Ranch near Ponca City, Oklahoma, becoming friends with another Oklahoma legend, Will Rogers.

Pickett became a favorite on the rodeo circuit although Jim Crow laws kept him from performing in many places, including Madison Square Garden. He appeared in early western movies, often with friend Tom Mix.

In 1972 he became the first African American member of the National Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and in 1989 was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy in Colorado Springs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dorie Miller

"It wasn't hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us."

Doris Miller was born October 12, 1919 in Willow Grove. Known to his friends as "Dorie", he was named by the midwife who delivered him and who was sure that the baby would be a girl.. He attended A. J. Moore High School in nearby Waco and enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1939. On December 7, 1941 he was a Mess Attendant Second Class serving on the USS West Virginia in Pearl Harbor.

Miller was collecting laundry aboard the ship when the Japanese bombing began shortly before 8:00 AM. He was assigned to carry wounded sailors to safety and to load a pair of unattended Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft guns. He then fired at incoming planes until running out of ammunition, even though black sailors serving as stewards were not given the gunnery training that white sailors received.

On May 27, 1942 he was presented the Navy Cross personally by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, who said "This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I'm sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts."

At Great Lakes Naval Training Station
Miller later served at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago and in May 1943 was assigned to the newly-commissioned escort aircraft carrier Liscome Bay.

During the Battle of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands on November 24, 1943 the Liscome Bay was hit by a Japanese torpedo and sunk in the Pacific Ocean. There were 272 survivors out of 900 men on board. On December 7, 1943 Miller's parents were notified that their son had been killed in action.

The Navy has honored Miller by naming a destroyer, dining hall, and barracks after him. There are schools, streets and community buildings named in his honor across the country from Hawaii to New York. He was portrayed by Elvin Havard in the film Tora! Tora! Tora! and by Cuba Gooding Jr. in Pearl Harbor.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pythian Temple, Dallas

Designed by William Sidney Pittman, the first African American architect in Dallas, the Grand Temple of the State Grand Lodge of the Knights of Pythias was completed in 1916. It was declared a Historic Landmark in 1989.

According to an article from the December 20, 2007 Dallas Observer
"It was, in the early 1900s, the hub of Dallas' then-thriving middle-class black community -- a social see-and-be-seen and a business center, among its many purposes. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, George Washington Carver and Marcus Garvey were featured guests as well. 'This building was the black professional building, says author and historian Alan Govenar. 'It was a meeting ground of the best minds of the day.' Adds Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. 'It's a signal of an era where African-Americans in this city understood that they could in fact produce something within the confines of whatever constraints were out there'."
Allen Chapel AME
Pittman graduated from the Tuskegee Institute mechanical drawing program and the architecture program at Drexel University in Philadelphia, and then returned to Tuskegee to head the architecture department. While there, he married Booker T. Washington's daughter Portia. The couple moved to Washington DC where Pittman established a successful practice, and in 1913 moved to Dallas. He designed structures throughout the state, including the Colored Carnegie Library in Houston, the city's first library for African Americans. 

Joshua Chapel AME

Pittman did not work as an architect after 1928. Supporting himself as a carpenter, he published a controversial weekly newspaper, The Brotherhood Eyes

Other buildings Pittman designed which are still standing are Allen Chapel AME in Fort Worth, Joshua Chapel AME in Waxahachie, Wesley Chapel AME in Houston, and St. James AME in Dallas, now used as a office building. He and other African American architects were the subject of a symposium earlier this year by the Dallas Architecture Forum

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dorothy Morrison

Lead vocalist for the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Morrison won a Grammy in 1970 with "Oh Happy Day". She appeared in concert with Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs, and Delaney and Bonnie, and on TV shows Soul Train, Carol Burnett, Dance Party and The Tonight Show. She was also in the documentary Celebration at Big Sur singing "All God's Children Got Soul".

Morrison was born in Longview on May 8, 1945 and was raised in Oakland, California where she currently lives.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Harryette Mullen


She wants a man she can just
unfold when she needs him
then fold him up again
like those 50 cent raincoats
women carry in their purses
in case they get caught in stormy weather.
This one has her thumb out
for a man who’s going her way.
She’ll hitch with him a while,
let him take her down the road for a piece.
But I want to take you where you’re going
I’m unfolding for you
like a roadmap you can never again fold           up
exactly the same as before...

Poet Harryette Mullen was born in Florence, Alabama, on July 1, 1953, and raised in Fort Worth. She attended the University of Texas where she earned degrees in English and literature and  worked in the Artists in Schools Program. She has taught at Cornell University and currently teaches African American literature and creative writing at UCLA.

Her books include Tree Tall Woman, Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, Muse & Drudge, Blues Baby, and Sleeping With the Dictionary, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry. Her poetry has been compared to that of Melvin B Tolson, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and Gertrude Stein, especially in the wordplay and allusion found in her later works. She credits the speech she heard growing up in Texas as sparking her interest in the way language is used.

                                                SHEDDING SKIN

                                   Pulling out of the old scarred skin
                                   (old rough thing I don't need now
                                   I strip off
                                   slip out of
                                   leave behind)

                                   I slough off deadscales
                                   flick skinflakes to the ground
                                   Shedding toughness
                                   peeling layers down
                                   to vulnerable stuff
                                   And I'm blinking off old eyelids
                                   for a new way of seeing
                                   By the rock I rub against
                                   I'm going to be tender again

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sweatt v. Painter

Setting aside the myth of "separate but equal" found in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), and laying a foundation for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Sweatt v. Painter is a landmark case in civil rights legislation. The 1950 US Supreme Court decision was the culmination of a legal battle started in 1946 when Heman Sweatt, an African American postal worker in Houston, was denied entrance to the University of Texas Law School
because of his race. He then filed suit against the school's president, Theophilus Painter.

The first action in the case was for the State District Court to continue it for six months until a law school for African Americans could be established. This was done by transforming the locally-run Houston College for Negroes into the Texas State University for Negroes (now Texas Southern University).  Schools of law, business, dentistry and other fields would provide the "separate but equal" access to education otherwise unavailable.

The appeal to the Texas Supreme Court that these facilities were, indeed, unequal was denied, but the US Supreme Court reversed the lower court decision, finding the facilities to be unequal in terms of facilities and intangibles such as the lower prestige of the new university and the isolation from most other future lawyers in the state.

Sweatt, who had received his undergraduate degree at Wiley College in Marshall, enrolled at the University of Texas Law School in the fall of 1950, but did not graduate. He was later awarded a scholarship to Atlanta University where he received a Master's Degree in community organizations and he eventually became the assistant director of the National Urban League's southern regional office.

Sweatt v. Painter is the topic of the 2010 book by Gary M Lavergne, Before Brown: Heman Marion Sweatt, Thurgood Marshall, and the Long Road to Justice.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lightnin' Hopkins

"Hopkins didn't rehearse his songs; he lived them. He played day in and day out and made up songs about things he experienced in his neighborhood or witnessed on TV. When he went into the studio he recorded whatever came into his mind." ~ Houston Institute for Culture

Sam John "Lightnin" Hopkins was born on March 15, 1912 in Centerville, Texas and at the age of 8 met Blind Lemon Jefferson at a church picnic. He went on to learn guitar from Jefferson and from his cousin, Texas Alexander.  Singing in Houston's Third Ward with Alexander in the 1940's, he was discovered by talent scout Lola Anne Cullum of Aladdin Records in Los Angeles. "Katie Mae", recorded in 1946, was his first regional success, and he went on to become one of the most prolific blues singers in recording history with 800-1000 songs recorded.

His career took a new direction in the 1960's when he came to the attention of folklorist Mack McCormick. Hopkins appeared at Carnegie Hall with Joan Baez and Pete Seger, and toured with the American Folk Blues Festival. He later performed in Europe and Japan.

Hopkins was the subject of Les Blank's 1967 documentary, "The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins". He died in Houston in 1982.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Henry McBay

Award-winning chemist Henry Ransom Cecil McBay was born May 29, 1914 in Mexia. He graduated second in his class at Wiley College in 1934 with a BS in organic chemistry, and earned his MS from Atlanta University in 1936. He was the first recipient of funding from George Washington Carver's donation to Tuskegee Institute for research on extraction of fiber from okra to replace jute fibers. Concluding that the okra was too brittle for this use he concluded that "I have researched myself out of a job."

While a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago he twice won the Elizabeth Norten Price for Excellence in Chemical Research in 1944 and 1945, paving the way for inexpensive peroxide compounds to be used in chemical reactions.

Dr. McBay then returned to Atlanta as an Assistant Professor at Morehouse College, becoming Department Chair in 1956. During this time he also served as a consultant to the UNESCO chemistry education program in Liberia. He later taught at Spelman College and Atlanta Clark University, serving a total of 41 years in the Atlanta University system until his death in 1995.

Regarding racism, Dr. McBay said that
"Nature distributes its talents and capabilities and its faults at random throughout the human species. People are not yet willing to accept that." 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Exploring Black History in Missouri

Scott Joplin House, St. Louis

Hope everyone had a great Juneteenth (and Father's Day) no matter how you celebrated! 

Before getting back to our regular Texas Black History features here's a link from one our our Lifetime Members, Bonnie Neely. Bonnie and her husband Bill edit Real Travel Adventures, which featured the article Exploring Black History in Missouri, written by Dallas resident Doris Daniels, the niece of Joan Mathis, another of our members. 

The tour was organized by Angela DaSilva of St. Louis, President of the National Black Tourism Network. Some of the sites included were these in Kansas City
      • 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District
      • American Jazz Museum
      • Negro League Baseball Museum

St. Louis places of interest were
      • Old Courthouse, site of 1847 Dred Scott Decision
      • Dred Scott's grave in Calvary Cemetery
      • Black World History Museum
      • Missouri Historical Museum
      • Scott Joplin House National Historical Site

Other visits in the state were
      • Buffalo Soldiers Monument, Leavenworth, KS
      • Colored School of Banneker, Parkville
      • Towns of Pennytown and Arrow Rock

Dred Scott Grave, St. Louis
The ties to Texas kept showing up here - Buffalo Soldiers, Scott Joplin (born in Texarkana), the Dred Scott decision that affected people all over the U.S. Just a reminder that any portion of our history has an impact on all of us. Calling something "Black History" or "Texas History" isn't about defining the boundaries but the starting point.


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Of course, it's Black Music Month (another starting point!), so here are two versions of St Louis Blues and one of Going to Kansas City.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Juneteenth - Part 3

Happy Juneteenth everyone! The fun is scheduled to resume today at 3:00 PM in Leon Williams Park in Paris with praise dancers, a talent show, and awards for special fathers and organizations. Here's a look at some other celebrations around the state....

Dreu Knight, 6, and other Miss Juneteenth winners
prepare for the Houston parade.
In Houston, Rev. Vernon Turner, president of the National Emancipation Association, said "This represents a day of freedom. Freedom has no color. We're all freedom fighters." NEA coordinator Dewayne Lark added that this "is a celebration of all cultures. We want them to celebrate with us so our ancestors will know that we appreciate what they did for us."

The Black Cultural Council of Odessa hosted a four-day event including a basketball tournament, line dance workshop, and for the first time a double-dutch jump-rope competition. BCCO President Jo Ann Davenport Littleton said that the event draws over 10,000 people from around the globe. In Corsicana, Tamera White was crowned Miss Juneteenth, while Annell Haney, 82, recalled celebrations in the past that would go on for days with barbecues and church services. Participants in San Antonio's events included Hezekiah Watkins, who was jailed as a Freedom Rider in Mississippi in 1961. 

Member of the Lubbock Forgotten West Riders
Participants around the state endured triple-digit heat for much of the day, and those in Abilene were met with high winds knocking down tents and equipment, and scattering tree limbs. Organizer Robert Lilly and local NAACP President Petty Hunter emphasized the need to view the holiday as a chance to educate all people about victories of the past and hope for the future. Lubbock's Unified Juneteenth Commission put together a three-day event, including a parade featuring over 50 mounted Forgotten West Riders, a tribute to the African American who settled the west. As they passed by throwing candy, spectator Jayden Lee, 6, greeted them with, "Hi, horses."

Austin saw a street party, food, informational booths, and a historical program, as well as a parade with horses, line dancers, and African drums. Even those attending in the line of duty got into the spirit of the day as "in his parked cruiser, a police officer rocked and swayed in his seat to the bass-heavy thump of "Billie Jean"." Also in Austin, Huston-Tillotson communications student Kliphton Joel Taylor wrote for the United Methodist News Service, "I love Juneteenth and everything about it! I've always attended the annual parade in Austin -- just days after my birthday -- and I have a blast! I see and connect with old friends while meeting new ones. I get to see so many different talents, ranging from cool kids on drums to pretty ladies and sometimes masculine men dancing for Jesus and singing and acting."

No Juneteenth celebration would be complete without singing "Lift Ev'ry Voice", so even if you can't make it to the festivities this afternoon, open a can of strawberry soda and listen to the Acapella Choir from Southwestern Christian College in Terrell.

Juneteenth highlights were taken from the Houston Chronicle, Odessa American, Corsicana Daily Sun, San Antonio Express-News, Abilene Reporter-News, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Austin American-Statesman, and United Methodist News Service

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Juneteenth - Part 2

Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Jr.
Chair, National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign

Dr. Wesley Johnson, Sr.
The largest Juneteenth celebration outside of Texas was started in 1950 in San Francisco by Texas native Dr. Wesley Johnson, Sr., a Fillmore street business owner. Other California observances were held in Oakland and Los Angeles. The Civil Rights Movement led some African Americans to pursuits less traditional than Juneteenth, but it also inspired an interest in the struggles of the ancestors. Those who participated in Resurrection City and the Poor Peoples' March on Washington in 1968 spread the idea around the country, and Milwaukee and Minneapolis were among the first cities to celebrate Juneteenth

In 1979 Texas State Assemblyman Al Edwards introduced legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday, and it was observed by following year. Currently, 39 states observe the holiday.

Leaders of various Juneteenth celebrations from around the country met in New Orleans in 1994 to create a national Juneteenth movement. This has led to increased awareness and observance around the country, and to proclaiming June as National Black Music Month as well as starting a movement for national observance of Juneteenth.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Juneteenth - Part 1

"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor." ~  General Order No. 3

The surrender at Appamattox ended the Civil War and finally freed many enslaved people whose lives had remained unchanged by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. However, it took another two months to get the word to the areas of the Confederacy west of the Mississippi, and on June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger brought the news to Galveston in the form of General Order No. 3 as quoted above. Granger was accompanied by 2,000 Union troops to enforce the order, which affected 250,000 enslaved people in Texas alone.

Celebrations began immediately, and have continued on the anniversary of that date, known as Juneteenth. African Americans would meet annually for picnics, barbecues, and family reunions. Often barred from other meeting grounds, they began to pool their resources to buy land where they could meet. Emancipation Park in Houston, Booker T Washington Park in Mexia, and Emancipation Park in Austin all were created during this time, with Mexia drawing crowds of over 20,000. 

By the turn of the century Juneteenth was known as Texas Emancipation Day, and its observation had spread to neighboring states. It was often sponsored by churches and black civic organizations, and included baseball games, horse races, and balls. White politicians would take advantage of the opportunity to address the crowds.

By the time of the depression involvement in Juneteenth was beginning to decrease. People were leaving farms to take factory work that wouldn't accommodate a day off to celebrate, and few elders were left who remembered the actual event. 

Tomorrow's post will be on the resurgence of Juneteenth and its recognition as a legal holiday.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ernie Banks

"Let's play two!"

So, there are two posts today, in honor of Dallas native Ernie Banks, who spent his entire major league career with the Chicago Cubs and was known for his enthusiasm and upbeat personality.

Banks, the first African American player for the Cubs in 1953, was twice named National League MVP and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. He retired in 1971 with 512 career home runs, including 277 at shortstop -- a record eventually broken by Cal Ripken Jr.

Banks currently lives in the Los Angeles area. He has established the "Live Above and Beyond" Foundation, whose purpose is to "eliminate prejudice, support programs that enhance neighborhoods, and relieve discrimination among various ages groups and races."

Below are excerpts from a 2006 interview about segregation and cultural changes in baseball.

J. Leonard Farmer

Unveiling of Historical Marker
The first African American PhD in Texas, Dr. Farmer arrived in Marshall in 1917 to pastor Ebenezer Methodist Church and to teach Latin, religion, psychology and philosophy at Wiley College. He later was on the faculty of Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Howard University School of Theology in Washington DC, and Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson) in Austin, where he also served as registrar and dean. He returned to Wiley in 1936, and served on the faculty with Melvin Tolson whose debate team was the basis for "The Great Debaters". In the film, Dr. Farmer is portrayed by Forest Whitaker.

Dr. Farmer was born on June 12, 1886 in Kingstree, South Carolina, and attended Mary McLeod Bethune's Cookman Institute in Florida and Boston University. The scholarship he won to BU did not cover transportation, and he walked the 1200 miles to Massachusetts. He completed the coursework and dissertation for his doctorate in one year; the program had a two-year residence requirement and he spent the additional year doing post-graduate work at Harvard.

Dr. Farmer was the father of civil rights leader and CORE founder James Farmer, shown above at the 1998 dedication of the Texas Historical Marker on the Wiley Campus. Dr. Farmer passed away on May 14, 1961, the day before his son was scheduled to enter Alabama with the Freedom Riders.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sly Stone

 Their fusion of R&B rhythms, infectious melodies, and psychedelica
created a new pop/soul/rock hybrid.

Born in Denton on March 15, 1943, Sylvester (Sly) Stone was raised in Vallejo, California, playing keyboards by the age of 7 and singing in a family gospel group. Working as a radio DJ and record producer in the Bay Area, he formed Sly and the Family Stone in 1967. The group had their biggest success with their fourth album, "Stand!", which contained the hit single "Everyday People". The Manchester Guardian included the release of this album in their history of 50 key events in the history of rock music.

Sly was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and honored at the Grammy Awards in 2006. His work has been covered my many artists, most recently Cee Lo Green on The Voice.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bones Hooks

Born in Robertson County in 1867, Hooks began his career as a cowboy and wrangler by driving a chuck wagon at the age of nine. Referring to himself as an "Angus among White Faces", he worked for area ranchers such as Charles Goodnight before becoming a porter for the Santa Fe Railroad in 1909.

He retired from the railroad in 1930 and devoted himself to civic affairs in Amarillo. He started the North Heights addition and created the Dogie Club for boys. While still working as a cowboy he founded the first African American church in the Texas Panhandle.

Hooks sent a single white carnation to funerals of every pioneer he knew, and also to noteworthy living persons such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Will Rogers. The responses he got from these flowers, along with other mementos and clippings, were displayed at the Texas Centennial in 1936 and the 75 Years of Negro Progress Exhibit in Detroit in 1940. He is the subject of WPA Oral History interviews and a book by Bruce G Todd, Bones Hooks: Pioneer Negro Cowboy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Juanita Craft

Civil rights advocate Juanita Craft helped form 182 NAACP branches during her 11 years as Texas State Field Organizer. She also served the Dallas NAACP as membership chair and youth leader, and was given the organization's Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award for 50 years of service. She led efforts to integrate the University of North Texas, University of Texas Law School, the Texas State Fair, and the Dallas Independent School District. She was the first African American woman in Dallas county to vote, and served later as Democratic Precinct Chair. She also served two terms on the Dallas City Council.

Mrs. Craft was born February 9, 1902 in Round Rock near Austin. She attended Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University) and later received a teaching certificate from Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson College). Her home (left) is now part of Dallas' Wheatley Place Historical District. A recreation center, post office, and park have been named in her honor.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Barbara Johnson Tucker

The first person to record Glen Burleigh's gospel classic "Order My Steps", Barbara Johnson Tucker was born June 28, 1949 in Conroe. The song won the 1994 Texas Gospel Music Awards Song of the Year and was nominated for a Dove award the following year.

Mrs. Tucker began her career singing as a child with her mother, brother and sister, and later attended Texas Southern University. In 1969 she appeared in the Broadway play "The Great White Hope" and performed at Carnegie Hall. She sang at the funerals of Mickey Leland and Barbara Jordan. In 2000 she was presented in concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jack Johnson

The "Galveston Giant" was born on March 31, 1878 and left school in fifth grade to work on the docks and later as a sparring partner. He won his first title in 1903 becoming the World Colored Heavyweight Champion. The current champion, James J Jeffries, refused to fight him, but in 1908 he gained the World Heavyweight Championship over Canadian Tommy Burns. White anger over an African American man holding the title led author Jack London to call for a "Great White Hope" to fight Jackson, and Jeffries came out of retirement for a bout on July 4, 1910 in Reno, Nevada.

Rioting followed Jackson's win, causing films of boxing matches to be banned until 1940 in fear that they would cause further unrest, and former President Theodore Roosevelt -- a boxer himself -- called for a complete ban of the sport. Jackson eventually lost his title to Jess Willard in 1915 after being knocked out in the 26th round of a 45-round fight.

In 1920 he began serving a year-long federal prison sentence for violation of the Mann Act, and afterward fought professionally until 1938 but lost seven on his last nine fights. He died in 1946 of injuries following a car accident in Raleigh, NC.

His life was depicted in the movie "The Great White Hope" and in the PBS documentary "Unforgivable Blackness".

Friday, June 10, 2011

Freddie King

An influence on Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton, the "Texas Cannonball" was born near Gilmer on September 3, 1934. His family moved to Chicago when he was fifteen where he immediately began sneaking into South Side nightclubs listening to such artists as Muddy Waters and Elmore James. He later became a headliner in the newly-emerging blues clubs on the West Side.

King is best known for his aggressive guitar style in instrumentals such as "Hideaway", which led to the release of the album "Freddie King Goes Surfing". He died of heart failure in Dallas on December 28, 1978 at the age of 42.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Clara Luper

Clara Luper, mother of the Civil Rights Movement in Oklahoma, passed away yesterday at the age of 88. She marched with Martin Luther King, led sit-ins at the Katz Drugstore in Oklahoma City and was instrumental in forming the Youth Chapter of the Oklahoma City NAACP.

Members of the Paris NAACP were fortunate to hear her speak several years ago at a banquet benefitting the Community Center in Hugo. She vividly described what must have been going through Dred Scott's mind awaiting the U. S. Supreme Court decision that could tell him "You are Somebody" only to hear "You are Nobody", followed by a reminder to the audience each one is, indeed, Somebody.

Please read this Daily Oklahoman obituary and these articles by Doug Loudenback and Stories in America about Mrs. Luper's fight for justice.

Cecil Williams

Featured in The Pursuit of Happyness, Glide Memorial UMC in San Francisco has been served by Rev. Williams for almost 50 years, first as pastor and now as Minister of Liberation since his denominational retirement in 2000.

Rev. Williams was born in San Angelo on September 22, 1929, the same year that construction on Glide Memorial began. He graduated from Huston-Tillotson University with a degree in sociology and from Perkins School of Theology at SMU where he was one of the first five African American graduates.

"The true church stays on the edge of life, where the real moans and groans are. Most church folks settle in, get comfortable and build doctrinal walls to protect themselves from anyone who thinks or looks differently than they do." ~ Rev. Cecil Williams, quoted in PBS series This Far By Faith [a great read about Rev. Williams' call to ministry and his outreach in San Francisco]

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Paul Quinn College

Founded in 1872 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church and named after the fourth AME bishop, Paul Quinn College is the oldest historically black liberal arts college in Texas. Originally in Austin, it relocated to Waco in 1877 and then to its current home in Dallas in 1990.

Last year, PQC's unused football field was turned into a community farm in partnership with Pepsico's Food For Good initiative. The college was named HBCU of the Year for 2011 by the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy Inc., and Michael J Sorrell was among the nominees for President of the Year.