Saturday, February 5, 2011

Black History Month-Ben Carson

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

Ben Carson

Ben Carson was born September 18, 1951 and raised in Detroit, Michigan by his single mother. His mother was big on education, since she never received her's after dropping out school in the 3rd grade, she forced Ben and his brother Curtis to read at least two books a week and write her a report on them. He continued his education that took him to Yale where he graduated with honors in Psychology. He then went to the University of Michigan Medical School where he went into Neurosurgery. After Michigan, he became a resident at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital and at 32 became the hospital's youngest Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery.

In 1987, Carson made another historic achievement in becoming the first surgeon in the world to successfully separate twins who were conjoined at the back of the head. This type of surgery always failed, but Carson and his 70-member medical staff worked for 22 hours straight in order to pull off the surgery. On June 19, 2008, Carson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, which is the highest honor a U.S. citizen can receive. Dr. Ben Carson has received numerous awards over the years that include over 60 doctorate degrees, member of numerous boards that include American Academy of Achievement and the Yale Corporation. He is also the president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments.

On a personal note, I was once going for a degree in medicine and Dr. Ben Carson was the inspiration behind that choice. I eventually went into writing, but it was because of his mother and his thirst for reading at a young age is what got me into making that final decision to change my major. Another connection I have is that he performed surgery on a good friend of mine a few years ago. If it weren't for him, my friend wouldn't be here today giving me shit lol. So a personal thanks to Dr. Carson from me and one of your many patients, Joshua Alvarez.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Black History Month-Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr.

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr., said to have been born July 1st 1877, was the first African-American Brigadier General of the United States Army and also was active in fighting for equality for African-Americans who served in the Armed Forces. He actually lied about his age and was really born in May 1880 in order to enlist in the army without the consent of his parents. He officially joined the army in 1899 and quickly rose the ranks in each of the different troops he was being reassigned due to his brilliance in the art of military tactics and leadership. In 1905, he became the Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Wilberforce University where he held the position for four years. He left the position for a few years serving as military attaché reporting on Liberia's military forces and patrolling the Mexican-American border, returning to Wilberforce in 1915.

He would consistently go back and forth between Wilberforce and other posts, but not before serving at Tuskegee University under the same position in 1920-1924 and again during 1931-1937, where he was also serving as a Captain of the United States Army. He would serve as a military tactics instructor for several battalions within his time away as a professor. In 1940 is when Davis Sr. became the first African-American to have the title as Brigadier General of the United States Army. To put his position in perspective, he was only 4 ranks away from becoming the General of the United States Army. One rank ahead of the Colonel and one rank behind Major General.

From there, he became the direct Commanding General of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Calvary division at Fort Riley and worked as an assistant to the Inspector General, which is where he served on the Advisor Committee for the Negro Troops Problems. This position is where Brigadier General Davis Sr. used his power and reputation in order to fight and regulate equality amongst the black soldiers and make sure they were being treated fairly while they were on tour, which they were under his watchful eye. His most prominent role in this was during his year stint during the European Theater of Operations where he served under Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee as a Special Assistant to the then Commanding Officer of the Communications Zone. His influence there was beneficial in his proposal to have integration of African-Americans in replacement units. After serving his country for over 50 years, he retired in the same position as Brigadier General in 1948, with Harry S. Truman presiding the public ceremony. During his tenure, he was rewarded with the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) and the Bronze Star. He died in Chicago, Illinois in 1970 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Black History Month-James Baldwin

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

James Baldwin

Poet, novelist, playwright, writer, and civil right activist James Baldwin. His work consisted primarily of being black and dealing with racial and sexual issues during the mid-20th century. He was the first to center his stories around personal conflict including homosexuality and psychological issues way before anyone else tackled these issues. Something that black people still tend to struggle with accepting today although it has improved drastically.

Baldwin attended and studied at The New School in Greenwich Village in New York. There is where he discovered his homosexuality and began using it as a means to fuel his novels. But back then, being black and gay was frowned upon by the black community so he left the United States and moved to Paris. His reasoning for moving was because he wanted to be looked at more than a "gay Negro writer, but just a writer."

While living overseas, he was able to publish his literary works "Go Tell It On The Mountain", "Notes Of A Native Son", and the highly controversial "Giovanni's Room" due to its homoerotic content. He received more controversy with his next two novels due to the interracial dating as well as bisexual nature of the stories, especially since they were published in the 1960s during the civil rights movement. When he moved back to the States in the early 1960s is when his stand on Civil Rights took place, aligning himself with the CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). With them, he traveled the south giving speeches to anyone who would listen about his racial ideology.

Before his death in 1987, Baldwin was able to create a total of 20 to 25 literary works and theater playwrights. He also was responsible for gathering a handful of others to join the Civil Rights Movement with names such as Nina Simone, Marlon Brando, and Harry Belafonte and helped to inspire other famous writers such as Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, who she credits Baldwin in being the inspiration behind her autobiography "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings".

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Black History Month-Frederick Douglass

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

Frederick Douglass

I can't remember exactly how old I was, I just know I was in middle school when I first read the "Life and Times of Frederick Douglass" and just became so interested in his story. It was my first time really getting a glimpse of what slavery was about as Douglass spoke about his experiences as a slave and becoming free. At the age of 12, he was being taught the alphabet by the wife of one of his slave owners. Of course this was looked down upon by the slave owners, so Douglass taught himself how to read. He used this skill and went on to teach other slaves how to read, holding sessions during Bible Study and using the New Testament, teaching sometimes up to 40 slaves at a time. He was found out by a group of slave owners and they disbanded the group of slaves. His former slave owner sent him to work for Edward Covey, a man who was known to be a "slave-breaker". Douglass went through what was said "one of the worst beatings I've ever had" by Covey. At 16, eventually Douglass had enough and fought Covey back. After Douglass won, Covey never whipped Douglass again. This was unheard of with slaves revolting against slave owners, especially someone of Covey's reputation and word spread around Douglass standing up to his master like wildfire. One thing I thought was cool about Douglass is that being so young and how he stood up for himself and others with such a huge issue. What was I doing at 16?

In 1838, Douglass was able to successfully escape Covey's plantation and became a free man. There, he went on to become one of the most prolific public speakers on slavery and a leader in the abolitionist movement. He was a firm believer in not only equality for blacks, but for anyone of any race and even stood strongly for equality in women's rights. Before the Civil War, Douglass was one of the most famous black men in the country due to his orations on the treatment of slaves and women, always gathering large crowds during his public speeches. One of his most famous speeches came during the revealing of the Emancipation Memorial after Lincoln's death where he was the keynote speaker, where he spoke frankly on President Lincoln's stance on slavery. Before his death in 1895, Douglass was appointed such positions as being a US Marshal, Consul-General of Haiti, and was the first black to be nominated for Vice President and President of the United States.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black History Month-Suzanne de Passe

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

Suzanne de Passe

I chose Suzanne de Passe because she's one of my heroes that I look up to, and hopefully aspire to follow in her footsteps. She's responsible for some of your favorite artists and television shows. To sum up de Passe, she is a media entrepreneur covering all aspects in the field of television, music, and film something I hope to do. But enough about me, let's get down to de Passe.

She started off as a Creative Assistant for Berry Gordy at Motown Records, bringing Jackson 5 to their doorsteps and being directly involved with their early success. Eventually, she became the president of Motown Records. Ms. de Passe was also the Executive Producer behind "Sister, Sister", "Smart Guy", and "Showtime At The Apollo". A veteran of over three decades in Hollywood, generating over a billion dollars in revenue in the entertainment industry, Ms. de Passe has also received countless awards for her contributions to the television, movie and music industries including her TV specials such as the Motown Anniversary series, The Temptations mini-series, and The Jacksons: An American dream mini-series and has also Executive Produced award shows of her own like NAACP Image Awards and Essence Awards. One of her most notable achievements, and one of the many reasons she's one of my heroes, is her being the first black person to be nominated for an Academy Award in Original Screenwriting for the movie "Lady Sings The Blues". Right now she is currently the Producer behind the movie "King", the upcoming DreamWorks motion picture on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. with Steven Spielberg and Madison Jones and working as the Producer-In-Residence at Emerson College School Of The Arts in Boston.