May Achievers of Color

Here are some famous and historical achievers of color born in the month of May who have made successful careers; some with whom we owe a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice from which we presently enjoy and reap benefits today, and they are:


James Durham or Derham, born a slave, one of eleven children, May 1, 1757, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (died in possibly 1802) becomes a physician, recorded as the first Black physician to practice in the United States. He became successful in treating life-threatening diseases such as yellow fever and diphtheria. Durham became well-known as an expert in treating diseases of the throat. His death may have occurred in 1802, however not known for certain. (More information can be obtained on the life of James Durham from Notable Black American Men. Some sources give his year of birth as 1762.)


Andreas Ngidi born May 1, 1881, in Nchanga, South Africa (died in 1951), becomes a Zulu poet and Catholic priest who by the late 1940s, had done a great deal for the church and his achievements as one of the first black priests were well known. During the last few years of his life, he met Dominic Khumalo, Mansuet Biyase, and Nicholas Lamla, who provided valuable insight into Ngidi’s life through interviews. (From:


Ada Brown born May 1, 1890, in Kansas City, Kansas, (died March 31, 1950), becomes a blues singer and actress, billed as “Queen of the Blues.” (More information can be obtained on Ada Brown from Notable Black American Women, Book 3)


Sterling Brown born on the campus of Howard University, May 1, 1901, in Washington, D.C, (died January 13, 1989) becomes a writer during the Harlem Renaissance period, folklorist, poet and educator whose writings primarily centered on the lives of Southern Blacks. (More information can be obtained on Sterling Brown from Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 10.)


Oliver White Hill, born May 1, 1907, in Richmond, Virginia, (died August 5, 2007) becomes a lawyer, who, as a young man, realized the most effective way to achieve an equal footing for African Americans, could be found through the legal system. He blazed a trail unparalleled in the history of the civil rights movement. In 1948, he became the first African American elected to the Richmond City Council, since Reconstruction and one of the pioneers of civil rights lawyers. Ronald L. Plesser, the section chair of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities, said of Hill, “His lifetime commitment to achieving equal rights through law, positively affected the direction of the entire national at a crucial time in our history.” In 1959, Hill became recognized as Lawyer of the Year by the Nation Bar Association. In 1979, the Judicial Council of National Bar Association recognized Hill. He received the Simple Justice Award from the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, in 1986, and the Justice Thurgood Marshall Award, in 1994. Oliver Hill Day is observed in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1995, in recognition of his accomplishments and the Oliver Hill Courts Building in Richmond, Virginia, is named for him in 1996.  (From CBB, Volume 63)


Virgil A. Clift born May 1, 1912, in Princeton, Indiana, (died April 15, 1997) becomes an author and professor of education. Dr. Clift married Dr. Nasrine Adibe, (born 1918-2006) in 1958, who from 1954-1958, served as UNESCO Technical Assistance Expert in the newly independent Kingdom of Libya, where she designed the K-12 science curriculum that remained in use in Libya for two decades. Her program in science education became the first of its kind in the Middle East. (More information can be obtained on Mr. Clift, from Contemporary Authors, Online and Biography Resource Center, and, both Internet sources.)

 Victor Stafford Reid born May 1, 1913, in Kingston, Jamaica, (died August 25, 1987) becomes an author of Jamaican history and life. (More information can be obtained on the life of V.S. Reid from Biography Resource Center, an Internet source, Contemporary Authors, Online and Dictionary of Literary Biography.)
Archibald Franklin Williams born May 1, 1915, in Oakland, California (died June 24, 1983), becomes a 1936 Olympic gold medalist in the 400-meter run competition who served in World War II, and remained in the service after the war. He had been at Tuskegee with the first Black airmen and flew B-29s overseas to Korea, Okinawa, and Japan. (More information can be obtained on Archibald Williams from the Black Olympian Medalists by James A. Page.) 

Evelyn Boyd Granville born May 1, 1924, in Washington, D.C, becomes an analyst, mathematician, and computer scientist. In 1949, Granville became the third African American woman to receive a PhD in mathematics from Yale University. Euphemia Haynes (born September 11, 1890, Washington, D.C. –died July 25, 1980, Washington, D.C.) became the first African American woman to received her PhD from Catholic University in 1943.That same year, Marjorie Lee Browne finished her PhD thesis at the University of Michigan, but did not receive the degree until February 1950.


“Big Maybelle” born Maybelle Louis Smith, May 1, 1924, in Jackson, Tennessee, (died January 23, 1972) becomes a blues singer with a powerful voice and a stage presence to match, who grew up singing in the local Sanctified Church choir, in Jackson. In 1932, she won first prize at the Cotton Carnival singing cabaret in Memphis, Tennessee. She then toured with an all girl band called the “Sweethearts of Rhythm.” During the 1950s, Maybelle sang with Quincy Jones and other orchestras. (More information can be gathered on Big Maybelle from Internet sources such as African American Registry)


Waverly J. Person born May 1, 1927, in Blackenridge, Virginia, becomes a geophysicist, the first Black American to hold the position of Director of the United States Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center. He is fondly remembered by peers as “Mr. Earthquake.” (More information can be found on Mr. Person at Biography Resource Center, and the History Maker’s, both Internet sources.)


Ethel Ayler, born May 1, 1930, in Whistler, Alabama, becomes an actress, known for The Bodyguard (1992), and Eve’s Bayou (1997). Eve’s, on television, Ayler had a recurring role as Carrie Hanks, Claire Huxtable’s mother on “The Cosby Show.”. She has also made memorable performances in the films “To Sleep with Anger,” (1990). Her career spans over five decades.


“Little Walter,” born Marion Walter Jacobs, May 1, 1930, in Marksville, Louisiana (died February 15, 1968), becomes a pioneering blues musician, playing the harmonica. (More information can be gathered on the life of Little Walter from All Music Guide, an Internet source.)


Ollie Genoa Matson II, born May 1, 1930, in Trinity, Texas (died February 19, 2011, in Los Angeles, California, becomes an Olympic medal recipient in the sprinter competition and a professional NBA running back who played for the Chicago Cardinals from 1952 to 1958; Los Angeles Rams from 1959 to 1962; Detroit Lions in 1963 and the Philadelphia Eagles from 1964 to 1966. He received induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972. He graduated from George Washington High School in San Francisco in 1948.


Shirley Horn born May 1, 1934, in Washington, D.C, (died October 20, 2005) becomes an outstanding jazz singer and an expert pianist who began taking piano lessons at the age of four. Encouraged by her mother, who enjoyed classical music; young Horn accompanied their church choir and played music for the Sunday school. She soon formed a trio and at the age of 13, won a city-wide contest that earned her a 13-week radio engagement. Horn received a scholarship to the Julliard School of Music in New York. Jazz music greats, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, and Oscar Peterson, became her influences. (More information can be gathered on Ms. Horn from Notable Black American Women, Book 2.)


Ray Aranha, born May 1, 1939, in Miami, Florida, (died October 9, 2011, in Stamford, Connecticut) becomes an actor, playwright and stage director who wrote numerous stage productions. In 1974, he won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Playwright for My Sister, My Sister. Aranha also wrote and toured in a one-man show, I Am Black, and later appeared as “Jim Bono” in Fences. (From:


Ralph Boston, born the youngest of ten children, May 1, 1939, in Laurel, Mississippi, becomes one of the most versatile Track and Field athletes in the history of the sport; achieving national ranking in the long, high and triple jump and hurdles categories. He made successful accomplishments in the 1960, 1964, and 1968 Olympic Games. He also won the U.S. National Championship in long jump from 1961 to 1966.


Max Robinson, born May 1, 1939, in Richmond, Virginia, (died Dec. 20, 1988, in Washington D.C.) becomes a journalist and TV news correspondent, who, in 1965, began his career as a floor director and newsreader at WTOV-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia. He eventually worked his way up to giving the news as an anchor, there, and at WRC-TV. In 1978, he joined ABC’s World News Tonight, becoming the first African American news network anchorman. Almost immediately he took it upon himself to confront racism. ABC management became frustrated with him, and moved him to the post of weekend anchor. In 1983, he left ABC. He became the first African American broadcast network news anchor in the United States and one of the first television journalists to die of AIDS. He became a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Max Robinson Center (MRC) of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Washington, D.C., bears his name in his honor. (From: Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 3, page 209)


Carlos Ward, born May 1, 1940, in Anco’n, Panama, becomes a jazz alto saxophonist and flautist best known as a sideman. He first learned to play the clarinet at the age of 13 when he lived in Seattle, Washington, where he had relocated from Panama City. Later he attended the Navy School of Music and worked with Albert Mangelsdorff when stationed in Germany. His first major effort was his work with John Coltrane in the period 1965-66, although not appearing on any records.


George C. Fraser, born one of eleven children, May 1, 1945, in Brooklyn, New York, becomes an author, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. He had a humble beginning. His father could not care for eleven children and his mother became mentally ill. Fraser became orphaned at the age of four and spent 14 years in foster homes. As a youth of 13 years, Fraser began teaching Sunday school. Growing up on the streets of New York offered little hope and no expectations for young Fraser. Although his guidance counselor suggested he drop out of high school, Fraser graduated from high school with a vocational diploma in woodworking because the school system did not consider him college material. Fraser felt differently. For several years, he mopped floors on the midnight shift at LaGuardia Airport, while he paid his way through college, and the rest is history. Fraser is considered one of America’s top Black speakers and business authors. He is the author of “Success Runs in Our Race.”


Patricia Hill Collins, born May 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, becomes a respected sociologist, who became head of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati and past President of the American Sociological Association Council. She came to national attention for her book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, originally published in 1990. (From: Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 67, page 24)


James Wise, born May 1, 1948, becomes an R&B singer, member of Archie Bell & the Drells, an R&B vocal group from Houston, Texas, and one of the main acts on Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. (Place of birth not given in Internet source.)


Ray Parker Jr. born May 1, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan, becomes an R&B singer, guitarist and songwriter. He was the lead singer of a group called Raydio. He co-wrote songs for Rufus and Chaka Khan, and Barry White. He also wrote the gold single for the movie “Ghostbusters,” entitled “Ghostbusters.” (For more info, go to All Music Guide, and Internet source.)


Eddie Johnson, born May 1, 1959, in Chicago, Illinois, becomes a professional basketball player for the Kansas City/Sacramento Kings from 1981 to 1987; the Phoenix Suns from 1987 to 1990; the Seattle Super Sonics from 1990 to 1992; the Charlotte Hornets from 1993 to 1994; the Plympiacos BC from 1994 to 1995; the Indiana Pacers from 1995 to 1997 and the Houston Rockets from 1997 to 1999. He spent 17 seasons in the NBA. After his playing career, Johnson turned to broadcasting, serving as a color commentator for the Arizona State University men’s basketball team, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, and currently the Phoenix Suns. Johnson is also an accomplished motivational speaker, and released an instructional DVD called “Eddie Johnson’s Jumpshot and Offensive Skills.” Johnson regularly contributes articles to the website and also enjoys debating his ideas, opinions, and thoughts with his readers. In 2006, some multiple media reports mistaken Johnson for the “Fast Eddie” Johnson (born February 24, 1955 in Ocala, Florida) arrested on suspicion of sexual assault of a minor and burglary on August 8. Johnson called that day the “worst…of his life” and expressed concern that the case of mistaken identity might permanently sully (spoil) his reputation. Johnson considered legal action against the various news outlets that used pictures of him gained from the internet or did not fact check his identity against that of Edward “Fast Eddie” Johnson.


Rhonda Banchero,, born May 1, 1973, possibly in Seattle, Washington, becomes a professional basketball player for the Sacramento Monarchs.


Dr. Rameck Hunt, born May 1, 1973, in Orange, New Jersey, becomes a physician and organization founder who served as medical director at St. Peter’s University Hospital’s How Lane Adult Family Health Center. He, along with two friends, Dr. George Jenkins (born February 6, 1973) and Dr. Sampson Davis (born January 19, 1973), founded a nonprofit organization, the “Three Doctors Foundation, which provides scholarships for inner-city youth. The three were honored at the 2000 Essence Awards for their community service. Dr. Hunt spent time locked up in the juvenile system for murder and Dr. Sampson Davis spent time in the same system for armed robbery. Dr. Hunt recalls what he told himself at the time “Never again, I told myself I didn’t want to spend my life this way.”

 Curtis James Martin, Jr., born May 1, 1973, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, becomes a professional football player for the New England Patriots from 1995 to 1997 and the New York Jets from 1998 to 2006. He is an alumnus of Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh. Martin played in the National Football League for the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. Martin rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first 10 professional seasons, a feat previously accomplished only by Barry Sanders (born July 16, 1968.) On November 6, 2005, he scored his 100th career touchdown, joining an elite group of only 16 players to do so. Martin, became 4th on the all-time rushing yardage list, and on November 27, 2005, in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints, he became the 4th running back in NFL history, behind Emmitt Smith (born May 15, 1969), Walter Payton (born July 25, 1954 to Nov. 1, 1999) to pass the 14,000-yard rushing mark. He became the all-time Jets leader with 10,302 rushing yards with the team and also fourth in the same category for the Patriots with 3799 yards. Additionally, Martin has a perfect passer rating of 158.3: 2 completions on 2 pass attempts, 2 TD passes, and an average of 18 yards per attempt. At the time of this entry, 2014, he may have surpassed these ratings. Trecina Evette “Tina” Campbell, born May 1, 1974, becomes an urban contemporary gospel, Christian R&B, and contemporary R&B recording artist and musician. She started her music career, in 1998, with her older sister, Erica Campbell (born April 29, 1972), as half of the gospel music group, Mary, Mary. Her solo music career began in 2014, while she has since released studio albums with Gee Tree Creative, where it charted on the Billboard magazine charts.

Darius Creston McCrary, born May 1, 1976, in Walnut, California, becomes a film and television actor and singer, best known for his role as Eddie Winslow on the television series “Family Matters.” McCrary began his career as a child actor and made his film debut in the 1987 comedy “Big Shots.” He also appeared in guest spots in episodic television and had a role in the 1988 film “Mississippi Burning” before landing the role of Eddie Winslow in “Family Matters” the following year. [1] After “Family Matters” ended its run in 1998, McCrary co-starred in the short-lived UPN series “Freedom.” In 2001, he appeared in “15 Minutes” opposite Robert De Niro and “Kingdom Come,” with Whoopi Goldberg that same year. As of 2009, McCrary is pursuing a music career and cast as an actor on the daytime soap opera, “The Young and the Restless.”


Michael Harvey, Jr., also known as MC Harvey, born May 1, 1979, in Battersea, London, becomes a British musical artist and Non-league footballer. MC Harvey himself came to prominence in 2001 with UK garage act “So Solid Crew.” Harvey, also a non-league football player, played defense for a number of clubs including two spells at AFC Wimbledon and at Lewes. The Conference Southside St Albans City signed Harvey in June 2007, but released him in November 2007 after many fans complained over the signing. He also played for Old Owens Football Club in Potters Bar.


Joshua Blake Reed, born May 1, 1980 in Lafeyette, Louisiana becomes a professional football player for the Buffalo Bills, raised by his mother, Margaret Reed. In college, he majored in kinesiology. For more information, check football Internet sources.

Craig Williams, born May 1, 1983, better known by his ring names, Human Tornado or El Negro, in Abilene, Texas, becomes an American professional wrestler. His gimmick is that of a stereotypical 1970s blaxsploitation street pimp. Human Tornado appeared in the Jack Black luchalibre wrestling movie “Nacho Libre” as “El Snowflake.” He’s wrestled for various pro wrestling organizations including Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling and the MTV promotion Wrestling Society X.


Drew Sidora, born Drew Sidora Jordan, May 1, 1985, in Chicago, Illinois, becomes an actress/singer known for her recurring role as Chantel in the Disney Channel Original Series “That’s So Raven,” and as Lucy Avila in the summer 2006 movie ”Step Up.” In 2009, she began working on her debut album, and her single “Slow it Down” graced the airwaves and gained great support.


Christian Rogelio Benítez Betancourt, also known as “Chucho” Benitez, born May 1, 1986, in Quito, becomes an Ecuadorian footballer who played as a forward for Santos Laguna in Mexico and received the award as the most valuable player, in 2008, making him the fourth Ecuadorian player to win the Mexican league. He is the son of one of Ecuador’s all time top scoring players, Ermen Benítez, who became a member of the Ecuador national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.


Tia Norfleet, born May 1, 1988, in Norfolk, Virginia, becomes a NASCAR driver, driving and moving fast towards another first for an African-American female. Yes, there are still many firsts for us to accomplish.


Bryshon Nellum, born May 1, 1989, in Los Angeles, California becomes a sprinter who graduated from University of Southern California in 2012 with a degree in Public Administration and Social Service Professions. When doctors told Bryshon Nellum he would never return to a world-class level of running, he kept pushing forward. Stunned after he was shot three times in the legs after leaving a party near the USC campus, Nellum went through three surgeries to slowly remove the damage and began the process of recovery. Though the recovery was slow, Nellum’s drive paid off when he finished third in the 400m at the Olympic Trials in a personal-best 44.80 seconds and earned a berth on the London Olympic team. For his ability to overcome such tragedy and reach the highest level in sport, Nellum was selected as flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony for Team USA at the London Olympic Games.  In 2013 Nellum claimed his first NCAA Outdoor championship in the 400m with a personal best time of 44.73. He graduated from USC in May of 2013. (From: )

  Jean Christophe Bahebeck, born May 1, 1993, in Saint Denis, France, becomes a French professional footballer who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. He is described as a player who is “very fast with both feet” and is a good striker of the ball. Despite beginning his career as a striker, he plays primarily as a winger. Bahebeck is a French youth international having earned caps at under – 16 and under – 18 level. He started his under-18 career scoring three goals in his first two matches. In March 2011, Bahebeck scored his first professional goal on his professional debut in a 2–0 win over LeMans in the Coupe de France.  Bahebeck began his football career in September 2000 at the age of seven playing for local club Club Sportif Municipal de Persan in the Val d’Oise commune of Persan. He spent almost three years training at the club before signing his first license with nearby club Union Sportive Persan in October 2003. While training at Persan, Bahebeck was supervised by club coach Denis Diaz.

Elijah McCoy born May 2, 1844, in Colchester, Ontario, Canada, (died October 10, 1929), becomes an inventor/scientist. Elijah McCoy worked as a fireman on the Michigan Central Railroad, shoveling coal and lubricating engine parts with a hand held oil can, when he realized that there must be a better, more efficient way of delivering oil to the vital gears, screws, and cylinders that kept the mighty locomotive engine running. He wondered if a mechanical device existed that could automatically drip the proper amount of oil into the moving parts of the engine whenever and wherever needed so that a train would no longer have to be stopped every few miles to be manually lubricated. After experimenting for two years in a makeshift machine shop, McCoy came up with a design for a special “lubricating cup” that could be fitted into the steam cylinders of locomotives and other stationary machinery. In 1872 McCoy received a patent for his invention, and within a short time his automatic lubricator–dubbed “the real McCoy” to distinguish it from the horde of less effective imitations that soon flooded the market–had been installed on locomotives around the country. “McCoy’s invention “a small thing,” wrote Aaron E. Klein in The Hidden Contributors: Black Scientists and Inventors in America, “but it provided faster railroad deliveries and spurred the economic growth of a nation.” (Information obtained from Contemporary Black biography, Volume 8; some sources indicate his birth year to be 1843)


William Joseph Seymour born May 2, 1870, in Centerville, Louisiana, (died September 28, 1922) becomes a religious leader. A May 27, 1997 article in the New York Times described a revival begun Father’s Day 1995 at the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida as probably the longest running since: a one–eyed preacher in Los Angeles named William Seymour called on God to sweep clean the souls of Azusa Street. The famous Azusa Street Revival began in 1906 and ran for three years, and is largely responsible for the growth of the Pentecostal movement that has some 20 million members in the United States and more than 200 million around the world. The article did not state, and it is possible that many do not know, that Seymour––the catalyst for the establishment of the modern Pentecostal movement, including the predominantly black Church of God in Christ and the predominantly white Assemblies of God denominations–– an African American. (Information obtained from Notable Black American Men and


Nannie Burroughs born May 2, 1879, in Orange, Virginia (died May 20, 1961), becomes a civil rights activist, organization founder, educator, and religious leader. Nannie Helen Burroughs a majestic, dark-skinned woman with a commanding voice and spell-binding, outspoken orator, belonged to the network of southern black female activists who emerged regionally as the leaders and members of national organizations–groups that included Mary McLeod Bethune, Lugenia Burns Hope of Atlanta, Lucy Laney and Florence Hunt of Georgia, Nettie Napier and M. L. Crosthwait of Tennessee, Jennie Moton and Margaret Murray Washington of Alabama, Maggie Lena Walker of Virginia, and Charlotte Hawkins Brown and Mary Jackson McCrorey of North Carolina. William Pickens, a pioneer NAACP administrator and writer, stated: “No other person in America has so large a hold on the loyalty and esteem of the colored masses as Nannie H. Burroughs. She is regarded all over the broad land as a combination of brains, courage, and incorruptibleness” (Flyer, n.d.) (Information taken from Notable Black American Women, Book 1; some sources indicate her birth year as 1878)

Mabel Hampton born May 2 1902, in Winston Salem, North Carolina (died October 26, 1989), becomes a lesbian activist, a dancer during the Harlem Renaissance, and a philanthropist for both black and lesbian/gay organizations. At two months old, her mother died, then raised by her grandmother, who died when she was seven years old. At that age, in 1909, Hampton was put on a train to New York City, where she went to live with her aunt and uncle. Within a year Hampton ran away from that home, having been raped by her uncle and treated poorly by the family. From ages eight to 17, Hampton lived with a white family in New Jersey; during that time, she was wrongfully imprisoned for prostitution. Eventually, she found work as a dancer in an all-women’s dance troupe on Coney Island, New York. As dance work declined, Hampton left the chorus lines. As quoted by Erin Sexton-Sayler, Hampton explained, “I like to eat.” At this point, Hampton began what was to be her longest career: a cleaning woman for white families in New York City. Joan Nestle, the daughter of one of these families, went on to found the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City. Mabel Hampton enjoyed a romantic and sexual relationship with Lillian Foster, whom Hampton met in 1932. The two remained a couple until Foster’s death in 1978. Along with her lesbian contemporaries, Hampton volunteered for the New York Defense Recreation Committee (1943); as part of this committee, she collected cigarettes and refreshments for American World War II soldiers. With only her working-class income, Hampton managed to attend performances of the Negro Opera Company, as well as to contribute to the Martin Luther King Memorial Fund and, later, to gay and lesbian organizations. In addition to her financial contributions to gay and lesbian organizations, Hampton marched in the first National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington, and she appeared in the films “Silent Pioneers” and “Before Stonewall.” In 1984, Hampton spoke before thousands of onlookers at New York City Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade in 1984; there, she said, “I, Mabel Hampton, have been a lesbian all my life, for 82 years, and I am proud of myself and my people. I would like all my people to be free in this country and all over the world, my gay people and my black people.” Moreover, she has left a legacy of invaluable archival materials to the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Throughout her career and adult life in New York, Hampton collected memorabilia, ephemera, letters, and other records documenting her history, providing a window into the lives of black women and lesbians during the Harlem Renaissance. (From: and “Mabel Hampton: Lesbian Pioneer” ~

John Brooks Dendy, born May 2, 1913, in Ethiopia, (died in March 1985) becomes a professional Ethiopian golfer. As a 12-year old in the roaring 20s, Dendy became smitten with a game considered a pursuit for the privileged. He used his imagination to fashion himself a set of golf clubs and collected several metal club heads, but had no shafts with which to connect the head and grip-a-situation akin to having a car with no motor. So he took some discarded broom handles and a case knife and whittled them down to a more flexible thickness. Dendy played with his homemade relics for several years. At the age of 18, Dendy conquered high winds and difficult sand greens to defeat the best the South had to offer, in the Southern Open. He eventually went on to become a three-time Negro National Open champion. One of the greatest stories regarding Dendy’s talent happened at a 1933 exhibition in Jacksonville, Florida. After arriving late because of problems with his bus, Dendy went straight to the first tee. Without warming up, he laced a drive over the dogleg and down the hill toward the green, 342 yards away. When he got to the green, placed the ball in the cup and won the Southern Open. He won again in 1934 and 1936. (Info obtained from )


Roscoe Lee Browne, born May 2, 1925, in Woodbury, New Jersey (died April 11, 2007), becomes a character actor, director and writer. Browne first attended historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he became a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1946. He undertook postgraduate work at Middlebury College in Vermont, Columbia University in New York City, and at the University of Florence in Italy. Also an outstanding middle-distance runner, Browne won the Amateur Athletic Union 1,000-yard national indoor championship in 1949. He occasionally returned to Lincoln University, between the years of 1946 to 1952, to instruct classes in comparative literature, French, and English. Upon leaving academia he earned a living for several years selling wine for Schenley Import Corporation. Despite his limited amateur acting experience, in 1956 he stunned guests at a party – among them opera singer Leontyne Price – when he announced his intention to quit his secure job with Schenley to become a full-time professional actor. With a strong sense of himself, Browne became determined not to accept stereotyped and demeaning roles that had routinely been offered to black actors, and he resisted emulating others. Browne also desired to do more than act and narrate, and in 1966 he wrote and made his directorial stage debut with “A Hand Is on the Gate” starring Cicely Tyson, James Earl Jones, Moses Gunn, and other rising black talent. Browne found additional success performing in August Wilson plays, both on Broadway and the Pittsburgh Public Theater. Described as having “a baritone voice like a sable coat,” speaking the King’s English with a strong mid-Atlantic accent, someone once said Browne sounded “too white”, he replied, “I’m sorry, I once had a white maid.”[2] Four years before his death, Browne narrated a series of WPA slave narratives in the HBO film Unchained Memories in 2003 (From: Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 66, page 24; some sources indicate his birth took place in 1922)


William James “Gates” Brown May 2, 1939, in Crestline, Ohio (died September 27, 2013, in Detroit, Michigan), becomes a Major League Baseball player who spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers from 1963 to 1975. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed. Brown served time at the Ohio State Reformatory for burglary from 1958 to 1959. A prison guard who also coached the reformatory’s baseball team encouraged Brown to join the squad as a catcher. The coach contacted several major-league teams after being impressed by Brown’s batting ability. Tigers scouts Frank Skaff and Pat Mullin convinced their ballclub to help Brown get paroled a year early and sign him for US $7,000. He chose to join the Tigers despite interest from other teams such as the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians. He explained, “The primary reasons I signed with Detroit is because they didn’t have any black players and eventually I figured they would, plus, I had been told about the short right porch at Tiger Stadium.”  On June 19, 1963, coming off the bench, Brown became the American League’s 11th player to hit a home run in his first at bat.


Randy Cain born May 2, 1946, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (died April 9, 2009) becomes an R&B singer as a member of the 1960s and 1970s group, The Delfonics.


Zena Oglesby born May 2, 1947, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, becomes a pioneer for Black adoptions, who as the founder and executive director of the Institute for Black Parenting, has dedicated his career to ending what he characterizes as the nationwide buying and selling of black and interracial babies and the frequent preference adoption agencies give white couples because they have ready cash and affluent homes and because adoption workers simply assume black adoptive parents can not be found. (Information obtained from Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 12)


Tomiko Fraser Hines, born May 2, 1968, in Bronx, New York, becomes a fashion model and actress who has done runway, print, and commercial modeling. She is best known for being the first African American face of Maybelline, which she held from 2001 to 2007. As an actress, she starred in the 2001 movie “Head over Heals,” and is an advocate for Lupus erythematosus awareness.

 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, born May 2, 1972, in Haywood, California, becomes an actor and popular professional wrestler, known by his ring name “The Rock,” who is signed to WWE, appearing on the Raw brand. He is often credited as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and widely considered one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. The recipient of numerous titles which include nine World Heavyweight Championships (the WWF/E Championship seven times and the WCW/World Championship twice), two WWF Intercontinental Championships, and five times as co-holder of the WWF Tag Team Championships. He became the sixth WWF/E Triple Crown Champion, and the winner of the 2000 Royal Rumble. (From: Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 29, page 80 and CBB, Volume 66, page 133) 

Charmin Smith born May 2, 1975, in St. Louis, Missouri, becomes a professional basketball player for the Seattle Storm, and the California Golden Bears. (From: an Internet source)


Nicole Monique Wray born May 2 1981, in Salinas, California, also known as simply Nicole, becomes an R&B and hip hop singer who made her debut with her 1998 single “Make It Hot.”


Gaius Charles, born May 2, 1983, in Manhattan, New York, becomes an actor best known for playing Brian “Smash” Williams on NBC’s “Friday Night Lights.”

 Thabo Patrick Sefolosha born May 2 1984, in Vevey, Switzerland, becomes a professional basketball player of South African and Swiss descent who currently plays for the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association.

Ivory Williams born May 2, 1985, in Jefferson County, Texas, becomes a sprint athlete who specializes in the 100 meters. Williams competed at the 2002 United States Junior Championships, taking bronze in the 200 meters and finishing in fourth place in the 100 meter.

Josephine Leavell Allensworth, born May 3, 1855, in Bowling Green, Kentucky (died in 1938), becomes, along with her husband Allen, the founders of a Black colony called Allensworth. Due, part to her efforts, the community became a beacon of social change and a symbol of racial advancement. (Information compiled from and can be found in Black Women in America, Volume 1)

Septima Poinsette Clark, born May 3, 1898, in Charleston, South Carolina, (died December 15, 1987) becomes a civil rights activist and an advocate for voters’ education. She served as a member of the U.S. Congress. She graduated from 12th grade in 1916, however not able to attend Fisk University due to financial difficulties. African-Americans could not teach in Charleston public schools, so she took a state examination which allowed her to teach in rural areas. She got her first job at Johns Island, South Carolina. Due to the racial inequalities and pay inequity, it prompted her to become and advocate for change. In 1919, she left Johns Island in order to teach and campaign for a law allowing black teachers in Charleston public schools. One year later, this law passed. In 1927, she returned to Johns Island to teach following the death of her husband. She pursued her education and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1942 and 1945. In Tennessee she helped found citizenship schools designed to aid literacy and foster a sense of political empowerment within the black community. Clark joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1961 as director of education and teaching. In 1962 the SCLC joined with other organizations to form the Voter Education Project, which trained teachers for citizenship schools and assisted in increased voter registration among African Americans. A decade later, due in no small measure due to the persistent efforts of Clark and others, the first African Americans since Reconstruction were elected to the U.S. Congress. (Information compiled from Internet source:


Estelle Massey Osborne, born May 3, 1901, in Palestine, Texas, (died in December 1981) the eighth of eleven children, becomes a nurse; the first black nurse in the U.S. to earn a master’s degree. In 1945, she became assistant professor at New York University, the university’s first black instructor. As president of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, Osborne increased membership and forged relationships with the American Nurses Association (ANA), National League for Nursing and National Organization for Public Health Nursing. In 1946, she received the Mary Mahoney Award for her efforts to broaden opportunities for black nurses to move into the mainstream of professional nursing. A member of the ANA Board of Directors, Osborne served as an ANA delegate to the International Council of Nurses. She became a member of the National Urban League, first vice-president of the National Council of Negro Women, an honorary member of Chi Eta Phi Sorority and the American Academy of Nursing. In 1982, the Estelle M. Osborne Memorial Scholarship is established to annually honor a black nurse pursuing a master’s degree in nursing. (Information compiled from, and Internet resource and Black First, 2nd Edition)


Canada Lee, born Leonard Lionel Cornelius Canegata, May 3, 1907, in the San Juan Hill district on Manhattan’s west side near the Hudson River in New York City, (died May 9, 1952) becomes an actor who pioneered roles for African Americans. A champion of civil rights in the 1930s and 1940s, Lee died shortly before being scheduled to appear before the House On-American Activities Committee. He became an actor after careers as a jockey, boxer and musician. Lee furthered the African-American tradition in theater pioneered by such actors as Paul Robeson. Lee is the father of actor Carl Lee (born November 22, 1926 to April 17, 1986). “All my life,” Canada Lee told The New York Times, “I’ve been on the verge of being something. I’m almost becoming a concert violinist, and I run away to the races. I’m almost a good jockey, and I go overweight. I’m almost a champion prize fighter, and my eyes go bad.” He could have added to this self-appraisal that he almost became a world-renowned stage and screen actor before the destruction of his career by the Hollywood blacklist during the late 1940s. (More information can be obtained fro Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 8)


Reverend Shelvin Jerome Hall, born May 3, 1916, in Yoakum, Texas, (died May 21, 2007) becomes pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, a church on Chicago’s West Side. Since then, he has moved the church several times and grown the membership to over 1,500. Hall became supervisor of the General Division of the National Baptist Convention in 1960 and subsequently became the twenty-five year dean of the Baptist General State Congress of Christian Education in Illinois; president of the West Side Baptist Ministers Conference; president of the National Board of Directors, One Church/One Child Program; president of the West Side Baptist Ministers Association and president of the Baptist General State Convention of Illinois and founding chairman of the Community Bank of Lawndale. He served as president of the West Side Isaiah Plan; chairman of the Family Division of the Chicago Area Boy Scouts of America; executive director of the Inter-Religious Council on Urban Affairs; president of the Local Redevelopment Authority of Lawndale; president of the NAACP; West Side Branch. He became president of the Midwest Community Council and founding board member of Operation PUSH. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to establish a movement on the West Side of Chicago, Hall, then president of the West Side Federation, opened his church and offered King hospitality and access. Happily married, Hall is the father of New York State Supreme Court Justice, Priscilla Hall, Illinois Appellate Court Judge, Shelvin Louise Hall and Lewis Hall, Supervisor of Higher Education for the New York Department of Education. (Interview obtained from Rev. Hall for History Makers, June 1, 2005. From


John Aaron Lewis, born May 3, 1920, in La Grange, Illinois, (died March 29, 2001) becomes a pianist, composer and arranger. As the musical director and primary composer of the Modern Jazz Quartet throughout the group’s entire history, pianist/arranger John Lewis proved that a weakness for the classics can lead to greatness in contemporary music. Searching for an outlet for his interests in bop, the blues, and jazz, as well as the compositions of classical composers such as Bach, Lewis, in 1952, formed the enduring and highly influential quartet, consisting of a usual lineup featuring a piano, bass, drums, and vibra-harp. (More information can be obtained from Contemporary Musicians, Volume 29)


Sugar Ray Robinson, born Walker Smith, Jr. May 3, 1921, in Detroit, Michigan, (died April 12, 1989), becomes a professional boxing champion whose career achievements include six-time world boxing champion, once holding a welterweight boxing title from 1946 to 1951, and five times claiming the middleweight boxing title between 1951 and 1960. He is considered by many authorities to have been the best fighter in history. He won 89 amateur fights without defeat, fighting first under his own name and then as Ray Robinson.  (From: Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 18, page 153 and Notable Black American Men, page 1022 and Information obtained from Encyclopedia Britannica, Online)


Clara Luper, born May 3, 1923, in or near Hoffman, Okfuskee County, Oklahoma (died June 8, 2011), becomes a civil rights activist and educator, known to many as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement and took her place at the head of the Oklahoma Sit-In Movement, August 19, 1958 to 1964. With courage and persistence she taught that non-violent activism is the way to freedom. During Mrs. Luper’s extraordinary career, she has received 471 awards and honors. The most recent is the passing bill 2715 by The House of Representatives to name a state highway in her honor. Luper became the 1st African American Vice President for the Oklahoma City Social Science Teacher’s Association; 1st African American Vice President of the Oklahoma County Teacher’s Association; 1st African American student to enroll in the History Department at the University of Oklahoma. She wrote, produced and directed the movie “Brother President,” the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Rebuilder of Freedom Center, “Home of the Civil Rights Monument,” after its’ bombing, Luper founded the Black History Monument and Wall; founder of Freedom Center Inc.; and co-founder of the Miss Merry Christmas Pageant. Arrested at least 26 times for civil rights activities, Luper participated in the Historic March on Washington, D.C.; Selma, Alabama, and other major marches in America. She wrote “Behold the Walls,” a 346-page book. Clara Luper received many honors in her later years. Inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2007, a scholarship has been established in her name at Oklahoma City University, and Oklahoma City named a street, the Clara Luper Corridor, in her honor. In 2009 she received the National Education Association’s Rosa Parks Memorial Award. Upon her death on June 8, 2011, Oklahoma officials honored her by placing her casket to lie in repose in the rotunda of the state capitol building, and flying flags at half-staff. (Information provided from an Internet source:


Albert Collins, born May 3, 1932, in Leona, Texas, (died November 24, 1993) becomes a blues singer and musician, playing the guitar. Nicknamed “Iceman,” he went largely unrecognized by the general public during most of his career, but eventually acknowledged as one of the most talented distinctive blues guitarists of his era. (Information obtained from Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 12)


James Brown, born May 3, 1933, in Macon, Georgia or in Barnwell, South Carolina (died December 25, 2006), becomes a pop, rock and R&B singer, songwriter, and musician. Some reference sources give differences in this information, suggesting his birth took place in the month of June, and some even offer other locations as his place of birth. However, the majority of reference sources found indicate this information as the popular choice. Mr. Brown would know for sure. He is noted as one of the most influential African American musicians of the past several decades. He is often called “Soul Brother Number One; the Godfather of Soul; the Hardest Working Man in Show Business; or Mr. Dynamite. He is fondly remembered as the Godfather of Soul. (More information can be gathered from All Music Guide and Internet source)


Garth Fagan, born May 3, 1940, in Kingston, Jamaica, becomes a dancer and choreographer. Despite his father’s objections, he studied dance at the Jamaican National Dance Company. He toured throughout Latin America, while still n high school. During this time, he even performed at Fidel Castro’s inauguration. He also studied with noted Caribbean dancers, Pearl Primus and Lavinia Williams. (Information obtained from Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 18)


Johnny N. Ford, born May 3, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, becomes an influential southern politician, a Democratic member of the Tennessee State Senate, the older brother of former U.S. Representative Harold Ford, Sr. (born May 20, 1945) and uncle of former Tennessee U.S. Representative and 2006 United States Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. (born May 11, 1970) (From: Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 70, page 61)


Greg Gumbel, born May 3, 1946, in New Orleans, Louisiana, becomes a professional sports TV broadcaster. His brother, Bryant Gumbel (born September 29, 1948), is also a noted TV sports newscaster. (More information can be obtained from Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 8)


Ron Canada, born May 3, 1949 in New York City, New York, becomes an actor and producer, known for “Wedding Crasher,” (2005), “National Treasure,” (2004) and “Cinderella Man,” (2005).


Angela Tomasa Bofill, born May 3 1954, in the Bronx, New York City, New York, to a Cuban father and a Puerto Rican mother, becomes an R&B and jazz singer and songwriter.


Damon Dash, born May 3, 1971, in Harlem, New York, becomes an entrepreneur who founded Dash Entertainment with cousin Darien Dash (born 1972), at age 19. He founded Roc-A-Fella record label partnership with Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Jay-Z, and Def Jam Records, 1995. He then started Roc-A-Wear clothing line and Roc-A-Fella Films, in 1998, plus other business ventures with the likes of Jay-Z, Redman, DMX, and Method Man, in 1999. (From: Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 31, page 50)


Karim Dule’ Hill, born May 3, 1975, in East Brunswick, New Jersey, becomes an actor and tap dancer extraordinaire, best known for his roles as personal presidential aide (body man) Charlie Young on the NBC drama television series “The West Wing,” and as pharmaceutical salesman-private detective Burton “Gus” Guster on the USA Network television comedy-drama “Psych.” He has also had minor roles in the movies “Holes” and “She’s All That.” Hill served as a member of the Screen Actors Guild Hollywood Board of Directors. (From: Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 29, page 78)


Kimora Lee Simmons, born May 3, 1975, in St. Louis, Missouri, becomes a fashion model, entrepreneur, former president and Creative Director for Phat Fashions, and once wife of the music mogul, Russell Simmons (born October 4, 1957.) Growing up in the northern St. Louis suburb of Florissant, Missouri, Kimora became the target of schoolyard bullying and teasing, because of her height; 5 feet, 10 inches tall, at the age of 10, and mixed ancestry. To help her, Simmons’s mother enrolled her in a modeling class at eleven years old. Two years later, Marie-Christine Kollock, (a representative for seminal Paris Agency Glamour) discovered Kimora at a Model Search in Kansas City (organized by Kay Mitchell) and sent to Paris.


Chasity Melvin, born May 3, 1976, in Roseboro, North Carolina, becomes a professional basketball player for the Cleveland Rockers, Washington Mystics and the Chicago Sky.


Tyronn Lue, born May 3, 1977, in Mexico, Missouri, a small city in the center of the state, near Columbia, becomes a professional basketball player for the Washington Wizards. He signed a 3-year contract with the Lakers for 1.3 million for three years. In his third season as a Laker, finally free of injuries he played in 38 season games and 15 play-off games. During the 2001 NBA finals against Philadelphia he received the task of guarding the league’s MVP Allen Iverson and did an exceptional job. (Information obtained from an online NBA source)


Kwame Cavil, born May 3, 1979, in Waco, Texas, becomes a professional football player for the Buffalo Bills. Cavil is very active in the Longhorn community service program and serves as a mentor at local elementary and middle schools. He spends time visiting children at the Austin Children’s Hospital as well. Cavil says his favorite movie is “Scarface.” His favorite actor is Denzel Washington, and favorite actress is Angela Bassett. His favorite singing group is the “No Limit” family, and favorite TV show is “Martin.” His says nobody knows how much he likes to play basketball. Cavil says the biggest influence on his choice of football as a career was his brother, Cheo Cavil, who helped teach him to play wide receiver during his freshman year at UT. (From: Information obtained from NFL source on the Internet)


Genevieve Nnaji born May 3, 1979, is a Nigerian actress and singer who won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2005; honored in 2011, as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian government for her contribution to Nollywood.


Farrah Franklin, born May 3, 1981, in Seattle, Washington, becomes a singer and actress; a former member of Destiny’s Child who replaced LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett alongside Michelle Williams.


Suki Adreana Horton, born May 3, 1982, in Anchorage, Alaska, becomes an awe-inspiring skier, along with brother Andre Horton (born October 4, 1979), a skier; a sister-brother duo from Anchorage, Alaska is poised to change this, not only showing that African Americans can ski, but that they can also become ski champions. By 2002 Andre and Suki Horton became top-ranked African American ski racers in the country, and with their sights set on the 2006 Olympics, they may just become the top-ranked ski racers. One avid African-American skier, Suki explained to Ski Magazine, “Every time my family and I went skiing, we were always the only black family on the slopes. There’s nothing bad about that, but I guess you like to see that you are not the only one in your group participating in this great sport.

(Read more:  and Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 33, page 91)

John Quincy Adams, born free May 4, 1848, in Louisville, Kentucky, (died September 4, 1922) becomes an educator, newspaper publisher and politician best known as the editor of the Western Appeal/The Appeal of St. Paul, Minnesota. He held the position from 1886 to 1922. Adams attended private academies in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, and graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio. He then moved to Arkansas where he taught in schools in Little Rock before taking a position assisting his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, the Arkansas’ Superintendent of Public Instruction. Between 1870 and 1876 he became involved in Republican Party politics and served as Engrossing Clerk in the state senate and as Deputy Commissioner of Public Works.(More at:  )


Thomas William Burtonborn the youngest of fifteen childrenMay 4, 1860, in Madison County, Kentucky, near Tates Creek, (died March 23, 1939), becomes a doctor; poet and an administrator who attended Brea College in Kentucky, and in 1889, he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. He worked with Dr. William Chavis, waiting tables, working in a lumberyard and in private families to pay for school. From 1890 to 1891 he attended the Medical College of Indiana, a year later the Eclectic College of Physicians and Surgeons where he graduated on March 24, 1892. After becoming a full-fledged “M. D.” he moved to Springfield, Ohio, April 5, 1892, and started his own practice of medicine and surgery. On August 3, 1893, he married Miss Hattie B. Taylor, of Cynthiana, KY. In 1897, after serving as a doctor in the Army he wrote a few articles for the Eclectic Medical Journal, printed monthly at Cincinnati, Ohio. Burton also saw the need of a State medical society composed of Negro physicians. He and a colleague, Dr. H. R. Hawkins, of Xenia, Ohio, organized the “Ohio Mutual Medical Association.” In 1910, he published his first book “What Experience Has Taught Me; An Autobiography of Thomas William Burton.” Burton’s death is not known. (From: )


Richard Samuel Roberts, born May 4, 1880, in South Carolina, (died in 1936) becomes a self-taught still photographer who operated his own studio in Fernandina, Florida, where he gained a reputation as a portrait maker. Roberts read books and magazines on photography, becoming familiar with the nuances of lighting, angles, shadows and backgrounds. His dreamed to become a master portrait-maker, with every picture a true reproduction of the subject. Roberts and his wife moved to Columbia, South Carolina in 1920. Working as a post office custodian, he soon rented a studio on Washington Street in 1922. For the next 14 years, the thousands of pictures that Roberts took comprise a stunning visual history of every aspect of the African-American community in South Carolina’s capital city. He frequently took his camera into the heart of the segregated black District of Columbia an also to other towns and cities in the state. He did not restrict his photography to African-Americans. He made portraits of all people, regardless of race or economic conditions. Because his small studio had limited floor space and poor natural light, he improvised in his use of equipment and background. As an innovator and perfectionist, he prided himself on the quality of his work. “No other gift causes so much real and lasting joy as the gift of your photograph,” he wrote in a leaflet publicizing his activities in the 1920’s: “To have “a true likeness” of oneself is just as necessary as every other necessity in life.” After his death in 1936, his children stored his negatives in the family home in the Arsenal Hill section of Columbia. Roberts’ work came to light in 1977 when researchers at the University of South Carolina’s South Carolinian Library through his children retrieved more than 3,000 negatives. The discovery of the glass negatives initiated a major research and preservation project. With the invaluable cooperation of the Roberts family a display of Roberts’ photographs were placed in the Columbia Museum in 1986 as part of the city’s bicentennial celebrations. Many of Roberts’ portraits have been collected and published in a book, “A True Likeness, The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts: 1920-1936.” The pictures are the most realistic collective images of South Carolina’s African-American life in the early twentieth century, especially the rise of the economically secure middle class. An outstanding photographer, Richard S. Roberts showed that self-determination is often the key to success. He shares his time in history with those who lives he documented through photography. However, for more than 40 years after his death in 1936, this most accomplished of photographer remained virtually unknown to all but his family and those who had been his closest friends. (Some info found at )

Shelton Brooks, born May 4, 1886, in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada (died September 6, 1975), becomes a Canadian composer of popular music and jazz, who wrote some of the biggest hits of the first third of the 20th century. The family moved to Detroit, Michigan, in 1901. Brooks sang, played piano, and performed on the vaudeville circuit (notably, as a Bert Williams imitator), as well as having a successful songwriting career. In 1909, singer Sophie Tucker, adopted Brooks first hit song “Some of These Days,” as her theme song, and performed it regularly for the next 55 years. Brooks starred in several 1920s musical comedies. After the sudden death of his partner Florence Mills, in 1927, (born January 25, 1895/November 1, 1927), he stopped appearing in stage shows and pursued a nightclub act. He also had a radio show on the CBS network in the 1930s. In the 1940s he became a regular in Ken Murray’s “Blackouts”, a long-running salute to burlesque that played in both New York and Los Angeles. His other songs include “All Night Long”, “Jean”, “Walkin’ the Dog”, “You Ain’t Talkin’ to Me”, “Honey Gal”, and “If I Were a Bee and You Were a Red, Red Rose”.

James W. Bryant, born May 4, 1922, in Sarasota, Florida, becomes Mayor of Lawnside, New Jersey, in 1975. He received several awards and honors, which include the Anne E. Sinnot excellence in teaching award Philadelphia College of Art in 1951; Four Chaplains Legion of Honor award for Service to All People, from Philadelphia Chapel of Four Chaplains, in 1977; and recipient of two battle Stars AUS.  (Information obtained from Who’s Who Among Black Americans, 1994-1995)


Jessie M. Rattley, born May 4, 1929, in Birmingham, Alabama (died March 2,001), becomes the first woman and first Black mayor of Newport News, Virginia, serving from 1986 to 1990. From 1975 to 1979 she served as a member of the board of directors of the National Municipal League, and in 1979 she became the first African American and the first woman to be president of the board. She also served in the capacity of vice mayor from 1976 to 1986. In 1970, she won a seat on the Newport News City Council, and became the first African American and first woman to do so. Her success in the election came partly as a result of the Civil Rights movement, which made African Americans aware that they needed to vote, to become involved in politics, and gain more representation in elected offices. She also won because of her outstanding dedication and drive. Reverend Marcellus Harris, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Newport News, told Leonard E. Colvin in the New Journal and Guide, “She emerged from the politics of the Southeast [Newport News] community and electrified the people. She had the people and the religious leadership behind her and we won a seat on the council. That showed the people what their votes and participation in the process could do.” The Southeast section of Newport News had long been a predominantly African-American area and it had historically been ignored, receiving less funding for schools, services, and streets than white neighborhoods. Harris said, “Mrs. Rattley began to be a voice of change.” She immediately worked to bring about equality in that term and in her successive series of terms from 1974 to 1986. Rattley did much more between 1974 and 1986 besides just hold the position of City Council member. (Information compiled and obtained from Notable Black American Women, Book 3, Who’s Who Among Black Americans, 1994-1995)


Ron Carter, born May 4, 1937, in Ferndale, Michigan, becomes a musician who began studying classical music as a teenager, in Michigan. Carter abandoned cello training and switched to double bass. Following a mere half year of intensive work, he managed to win a scholarship to the prestigious Eastman School of Music in New York. Carter had planned on a classical music career, only vaguely aware of jazz, but in 1958 a conductor visiting the school, Leopold Stokowski of the Houston Symphony, admired his work. However, Stokowski readily admitted that the South, at least, was not ready for black musicians in their orchestras. Hearing this, Carter abruptly realized that racism had permeated the entire U.S. orchestral world–a state of affairs that, he would note in the late 1980s, really hadn’t changed much. Record-industry racism and a lack of commercial interest in jazz have concerned Ron Carter his whole career. Carter became the recipient of a Grammy Award for best individual or group jazz instrumental performance, in 1995, for “A Tribute to Miles.” (Information compiled from Contemporary Musicians, Volume 14 and some info from Soul Vibrations and Encyclopedia of Black America)


Melvin Edwards, born May 4, 1937, in Houston, Texas, becomes a sculptor. Whether the piece is a small mask hung strategically on a wall or a large, standing sculpture in the middle of a courtyard, the metal-works of Melvin Edwards command power, intensity, and attention. Originally a painter, Edwards discovered the craft of welding metal, and it is within this medium that he has found a prominent voice in the world of art. The family loved to read, and were all artistically gifted. Reading broadened young Melvin’s horizons, and he devoured books ranging from do-it-yourself manuals to histories, adventure novels and National Geographic Magazines, which first exposed him to the wonders of Africa. His parents, moreover, ensured his exposure to the world of the arts. From an early age Edwards displayed a strong creative bent, an interest recognized and encouraged by both his family and his school teachers. A diligent draftsman, he participated in his high school’s elective art program. As a junior, he became one of six students chosen to attend classes at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts. This experience greatly influenced Edwards. As he told Gail Gregg of ART News, “Being able to see work in a museum was very special, very important.” Edwards saw works by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci for the first time, which also sparked his lifelong interest in human anatomy. (Information compiled from Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 22)


Tyrone Davis, born May 4, 1938, in Greenville, Mississippi, (died February 9, 2005) becomes an R&B soul singer. One of his popular recordings became “Baby Can I Change My Mind,” in 1968, and “Turn Back the Hands of Time,” which hit number one on the charts in 1970. (More information can be gathered from “Big Book of Blues,” and “Soul Music, A to Z.”)


Nicholas Ashford, born May 4, 1942, in Fairfield, South Carolina, (died August 22, 2011) becomes a member of the popular R&B recording team of Ashford and Simpson, and composer (along with wife, Valarie Simpson) of many top R&B hits performed by various artists. He grew up in Willow Run, Michigan, an auto-manufacturing area, just west of Detroit. Ashford sang in a gospel choir as a youngster and acquired a solid education, finishing high school and attending nearby Eastern Michigan College (now Eastern Michigan University) for one semester. To his parents’ dismay, however, Ashford then dropped out of college and headed for New York with only $57 in his pocket, hoping to make it as a singer or dancer. At first he could only find work in a restaurant, and to satisfy his musical appetite he began attending Harlem’s White Rock Baptist Church, where he met Valerie Simpson, a member of the choir and a recent high school graduate who, like Ashford, had strong musical aspirations. “She put me in a spin,” Ashford quoted as saying, by Irwin Stambler in the Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul. (Simpson, born in New York, August 26, 1946 (some sources give the date of 1948). It would be some years before Ashford and Simpson entered into a committed relationship, but they continued to live in Harlem and to attend the same church throughout their careers. (More information can be obtained from Soul Music A to Z and Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 21)


Mannie Leon Jackson, born May 4, 1942, in Illmo, Missouri, becomes a professional basketball player and owner of the Harlem Globetrotters. “The Harlem Globetrotters became one of America’s greatest assets because they are so much a part of sports history,” Jackson commented in the Orange County Register. “I feel a major responsibility to make it happen right. With a commitment to excellence and global social consciousness, the Globetrotters are setting the standard in the sports and entertainment arena.” Mannie Jackson, whose net worth today is estimated to be well into seven figures, born in a converted railway boxcar that housed 12 members of his extended family. Rooms were marked off by sheets hung from the ceiling. The boxcar, a part of a makeshift neighborhood in Illmo, Missouri, created to house the temporary labor force working on the Cotton Belt Railroad. Jackson lived there with his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles until the age of three. Then his parents moved to Edwardsville, Illinois, where his father worked in an auto plant and his mother and grandmother cleaned houses. “For some people, it would’ve been very depressing to have a mom and grandmother who were scrubbing floors and cleaning toilets in white folks’ houses,” Jackson observed in Sports Illustrated. “But it was an education for me. I’d go into their libraries and look at the books they read. I’d listen to them talk and watch how they carried themselves. And I’d watch my mother: how she talked about quality and took pride in what she was doing. I came out of it a better person.” A close-knit and hard- working family helped Jackson to look beyond his impoverished youth. “Somehow, in my family, I learned about setting goals,” he recalled in the Indianapolis Star. “Through racism and financial difficulties and all those things that come along as a kid, I had this dream that translated into setting goals. I have to give a lot of credit to my mom and dad, and basketball.” Jackson became the first African American with controlling ownership in an entertainment organization and international sports. Jackson has been heavily recognized throughout his career including an acknowledgment as one of the nation’s 30 most powerful and influential black corporate executives, one of the nation’s top 50 corporate strategists, and one of the 20 African-American high net worth entrepreneurs.(Information compiled from Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 14)


Norm Rice, born May 4, 1943, in Denver, Colorado, becomes the first Black to be elected mayor of Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Rice served two terms as mayor, from 1990 to 1998, recognized as Seattle’s first and only African American to serve as mayor as of 2013. He had been a member of the city council for eleven years. Rice told the Christian Science Monitor that growing up the youngest in the family prepared him for his career. “It makes you a politician,” he said. “You have to figure out how to get along with all these bigger brothers and sisters.” Early in his life Rice established the practice of listening carefully to other people and using their ideas wherever possible. He took that characteristic with him to the Seattle Municipal Building, where he is known for soliciting opinions from numerous sources on a host of city issues.  (More information can be obtained from Black First, 2nd Edition, and Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 8)


Chaka Shang, born Horace Coleman May 4, 1943, in Dayton, Ohio, becomes an educator and poet, who said he learned the truth about the world from Black books. He says he really learned about white folks while serving in the war in Viet Nam. At the time this information was compiled for source of Broadside, Shang wrote for Broadside A&A. Information compiled and can be obtained from Broadside Authors and Artists.

<>Renee Powell, born May 4, 1946, in East Canton, Ohio, becomes a professional golfer who played on the U.S.-based LPGA Tour and head professional at her family’s Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio. Powell became the second African-American woman ever to play on the LPGA Tour, with Althea Gibson (born August 25, 1927 –died September 28, 2003) being the first African-American LPGA Tour member, joining in 1963. Powell joined in 1967, and played on Tour from 1967–1980. It will not be until 1995 that another African-American woman played on the tour. LaRee Sugg (born November 11, 1969) played on Tour from 1995–1997, and from 2000–2001. Powell is a member of the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame.

Jackie Jackson, known as Sigmund Esco Jackson, born May 4, 1951, in Gary, Indiana, the oldest in group of singing brothers known as the Jackson Five, whose first hit, “I Want You Back,” 1970, sold over two million copies. Jackie plays guitar for the group. (Information from Almanac of Famous People, 7th Edition) Oleta Adams, born May 4, 1953, in Seattle, Washington, becomes a soul, jazz, and gospel singer and pianist, who in 1985, discovered by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, founders of the English band Tears for Fears, while performing in a hotel bar in Kansas City, Missouri on a US tour, chatted with Adams after her performance, and two years later they contacted her to invite her to join their band as a singer on their next album, The Seeds of Love. In 1989, “Woman in Chains, a single on the album sung as a duet by Adams and Orzabal and with Phil Collins on drums, became her first hit. Adams embarked on a world tour with “Tears for Fears,” in 1990, performing by herself as the supporting artist at the start of each show, and remaining onstage throughout the Tears for Fears set where she would provide piano and vocals. John Akomfrah, OBE (born 4 May 1957) in Accra, Ghanas an English artist, writer, film director, screenwriter, theorist and curator whose “commitment to a radicalism both of politics and of cinematic form finds expression in all his films.”

Donald Lawrence, born May 4, 1961, in Charlotte, North Carolina, becomes a gospel music songwriter, record producer and artist. He studied at Cincinnati Conservatory, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in music. While in Cincinnati, he was also the Minister of Music at the Southern Baptist Church on Reading Road. To his credit, Donald’s musicality has seen many incarnations, as vocal coach to the R&B group En Vogue, musical director for Stephanie Mills, songwriter for The Clark Sisters, and producer for a host of artists including Peabo Bryson and Kirk Franklin.

Dawn Michelle <>Staley, born May 4, 1970, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, becomes a professional basketball hall of fame player and coach. Staley became a three-time Olympian and elected to carry the United States flag at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics. After winning the gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics, she went to play professionally in the American Basketball League and the WNBA. Voted by fans in 2011, Staley became one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history, and elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Jamie Reader, born May 4, 1974, in Washington, D.C., becomes a professional football player for the Miami Dolphins. He majored in physical education while attending college at Akron. (Information obtained from Internet source at Scottish Claymores Official website.)

James Harrison, born May 4, 1978, in Akron, Ohio, becomes a professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sam Clancy, born May 4, 1980, in Fairview, Ohio, becomes a professional basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers. In an article from Sports Illustrated by Austin Murphy: Being the son of an NFL player didn’t mean young Sam was a child of privilege, however. When their parents separated in 1992, Sam, Samantha and their younger brother, Samario, stayed with Anetta. She and Sam Sr. divorced in 1994, and times got tough. “My savings went from $50,000 to zero,” recalls Anetta. The bank foreclosed on her house, forcing her to move with the kids into an apartment “roughly the size of the game room in our old house,” she says. “It was the worst time of our lives.” After a year of working two jobs (in human resources at Sears by day, in telemarketing in the evening), she joined a construction union in Cleveland as a general laborer. The work was hard–she did jobs such as tearing asbestos out of old buildings–but the money was much better. Sam Jr. attended St. Edward High, a private, all-boys’ school in Lakewood, Ohio, where Steve Logan, who now stars at Cincinnati, was a teammate. In the first game of Sam Jr.’s senior year, against nationally ranked Mount Zion Academy, Sam was sucker-punched during a fracas in the second half. “That was it,” recalls his father. “They released the fury. Sam took over that game.” St. Edward won in overtime. (Most of the information was compiled from a Sports Illustrated article dated March 11, 2002.)

Ryan Sims, born May 4, 1980, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, becomes a professional football player for the Kansas City Chiefs. In an article for Sports Illustrated, written by Jeffri Chadiha and David Sabino: Sims can thank his parents, Ronnie and Sarah, for instilling in him the drive to excel. They raised him to dream big and gave him the space to grow. It came out of a weekly exercise in which Ronnie and Sarah sat with Ryan and his sister, Jessica, now 17, in the living room of the family’s Spartanburg, S.C., home and encouraged the children to air their gripes for one uncensored hour. Ronnie wanted his son to be a gentleman, so he made him open doors for Jessica whenever the family went out. When Ronnie coached Ryan’s youth-league football teams, he repeatedly told his son to give 110% because the other kids were watching him. Ronnie, who spent three years pitching at the Class A level in the Boston Red Sox organization, blew out his right arm in 1975, so he often reminded Ryan that dreams can die quickly but that education never stops opening doors. “I never had a father figure when I played, so I learned through trial and error,” says Ronnie, a distribution service technician for Duke Power. “I always told Ryan to use the game and never let it use him.” It helped that Ryan was bright. His habit of finishing schoolwork early helped land him in a gifted program in the third grade, where he excelled in problem-solving games and relished field trips to museums. That active mind–he loves the strategic aspect of football–and his ambition, more than anything, have shaped his career. There also is no question that Ryan is his own man. As a ninth-grader at Dorman High, Ryan told Ronnie he was giving up baseball so he could concentrate on football. Ronnie swallowed hard, hid his disappointment and supported his son’s decision. When Ryan grew from 5’7″ to 6’4″ between his sophomore and junior seasons, he switched from quarterback to defense because his coach said the move would increase the number of scholarships he’d be offered.  Sims says. “My attitude is this: Who cares if you’re going to get embarrassed? Are you going to stand in the back of the line and hope nobody calls on you? I’m going to fight until I win.” Information compiled from a Sports Illustrated article dated April 22, 2002

Pío de Jesús Pico, born May 5, 1801, in Alta, California (now the State of California), died September 11, 1894, becomes the last governor of Alta California (now the State of California) under Mexican rule. The last governor of Mexican California, Pio De Jesus Pico, a direct descendant of the Olmec Mayans aka the Africans of Ancient Black Mexico, paternal grandmother, María Jacinta de la Bastida, listed in the 1790 census as mulata, meaning mixed race with African ancestry. His paternal grandfather, Santiago de la Cruz Pico, described as a Mestizo (Native American-Spanish) in the same census, served as one of the soldiers who accompanied Juan Bautista de Anza on the expedition that left Tubac, Arizona for California in 1775 to explore the region and colonize it. Pio Pico was thus of Spanish, African and Native American ancestry.

Professor William H. Crogman, born May 5, 1841 (died in 1931), on the Island of St. Martin, becomes Chair of Greek and Latin at Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia. Some sources give his birth date as April 28, 1841. (More information can be found in the Twentieth Century Negro Literature)

Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., born May 5, 1865, in Martin’s Mill, Franklin County, Virginia, (died June 12, 1953),becomes a world renowned minister who devoted the first 12 years of his pastorate to the spiritual development and reorganization of the Abyssinian church. Born in poverty in southwestern Virginia, Powell worked to put himself through school at Wayland Seminary, where he received ordination in 1892. (More information can be obtained on the life of Powell, Sr. from Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 5)

Charles Albert “Chief” Bender, born May 5, 1884, in Crow Wing County, Minnesota, (died May 22, 1954),becomes a professional baseball player who won over 200 games in leading the Oakland A’s to five World Series. He received induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953. (Information obtained from National Baseball Hall of Fame, an Internet source.)


“Blind” Willie McTell, born May 5, 1898 or 1901, in Thompson, Georgia, (died August 19, 1959), becomes a musician, noted as the dean of the Atlanta blues schools in the 1920s and 1930s. He played the 12-string guitar and during his career recorded for many labels under various pseudonyms. Some sources list his year of birth as 1898. (More information can be gathered on the life of McTell from Blue Flame Café, an Internet blues resource site. Some sources indicate his birth year to be 1898.)

Adolphe Paul Barbarin, born May 5, 1899, in New Orleans, Louisiana (died February 17, 1969), becomes a New Orleans jazz drummer, usually regarded (along with Baby Dodds) as one of the very best of the pre-Big Band era jazz drummers. Barbarin, an accomplished and knowledgeable musician, a member of ASCAP, and the composer of a number of pop tunes and Dixieland standards, including “Come Back Sweet Papa”, “Don’t Forget to Mess Around (When You’re Doing the Charleston)”, “Bourbon Street Parade”, and “(Paul Barbarin’s) Second Line,” died  February17, 1969 while playing a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. Barbarin’s year of birth is often given as 1901. (From: and

Ruben Roddy, born May 5, 1906 (died in 1960), in Joplin, Missouri, becomes a brass band musician, playing the alto saxophone, with the Eureka Brass Band, after a career with Count Basie, Bennie Moten and Walter Page. (From: ) 

Ida Keeling, born May 5, 1915, in New York City, New York, becomes a track and field athlete, who in 2014, at the age of 99, set the world record for the 100-meter dash at the sprints in 100 m of the 2014 Gay Games in her age group at 59.80 seconds. The relevant USA Track & Field webpage does not currently include a 100-meter record for US women older than the 90-94 age division. Keeling is a longtime resident of Manhattan. Her mother died when Ida was young and her husband died of a heart attack when she was 42. She had at least three children, two of whom, Charles and Donald, died in drug-related killings in 1979 and 1981 respectively. Her daughter, Shelley Keeling, is a lawyer and real estate investor who coaches Ida and has coached for a local high school; Shelley first convinced Ida to run in a “mini-run” at the age of 67, and since then Ida has continued to participate in track and field. Keeling has set previous records for her age group. In 2011, at 95 years old, Keeling set the world record in her age group for running 60 meters at 29.86 seconds at a track meet in Manhattan, and in 2012 she set the W95 American record at the USATF Eastern Regional Conference Championships at 51.85. Never use age as an excuse. (From: published 16:30 EST, 14 August 2014 | Updated: 22:00 EST, 14 August 2014)

Bill Beverly “Fireball,” born May 5, 1930 in Houston, Texas, (died September 11, 1966), becomes a professional baseball player for Negro Leagues. In “Voices from the Negro Leagues,” states in the first half of the 1950s, Black ballplayers were placed in limbo. Most Blacks who signed with major league clubs were buried in the minor’s and not given a fair chance. But a young Black, just like a young white, dreamed of being a major league player. Beverly became one player who chose not to be buried in a major league farm system and stuck it out with the Negro teams. He played for various Black ball clubs throughout the first half of the 1950s. (For more information on Bill Beverly, read Voices from the Negro League.)

Douglas Turner Ward, born May 5, 1930, in Burnside, Louisiana, becomes a playwright, dramatist and writer. He was often called the “father of modern Black theater.” Ward has successfully combined careers as actor, writer, and director. He has won Obie Awards twice (at the original compiling of this information from Contemporary Dramatists, 6th Edition), for plays he wrote and performed in. He became artistic director of the Negro Ensemble Company, an important repertory company that he and actor-director Robert Hooks founded. (Information compiled and obtained from Contemporary Dramatists, 6th Edition, and Notable Black American Men)

Johnnie Harrison <>Taylor, born May 5, 1934, in Crawfordsville (Crittenden County), Arkansas (died May 31, 2000), becomes a popular gospel and rhythm and blues singer, known as the “Philosopher of Soul,” whose recording career spanned forty-six years. His single, “Disco Lady,” became the first single ever to be certified platinum. The youngest of three siblings, raised by his grandmother in West Memphis (Crittenden County), a religious woman who made sure he attended church regularly. He made his church singing debut at age six, and inspired by both gospel and the blues, he decided at a young age that he wanted to make a living by singing. By 1953, Taylor had moved to Chicago, Illinois, singing with the doo-wop group the Five Echoes, with whom he made his first recordings on the VeeJay label. Shortly afterward, he also began singing with the Highway QCs, a long-running, popular gospel quartet in which Cooke and Lou Rawls had previously been members. The QCs made their recording debut in 1955 with Taylor singing lead on “Somewhere to Lay My Head,” which made the group a nationwide gospel attraction. When Cooke left the Soul Stirrers, Taylor was chosen to be his replacement in 1957. While a member of the group, he became an ordained minister and preached his first sermon at Fellowship Baptist Church in Chicago. After a wreck in which he ran over a little girl in 1960, and booted from the Soul Stirrers, he went to Los Angeles, California, intending to preach full time. In 1963, however, Sam Cooke signed him as the first artist on his new SAR label, and Taylor, still stinging from being kicked out of the Soul Stirrers and determined to find his place in the music marketplace, began recording secular music. The label folded after Cooke’s death in 1964. (From:

Olusegun Obasanjo, born May 5, 1937, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, in southwest Nigeria, becomes president of Nigeria in March 1999 until May 29, 2007. In 1990, he received Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger, plus several other honorary degrees. Information from Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 22

Johnny Taylor, born May 5, 1938 (died May 31, 2000), in Crawfordsville, Arkansas, becomes a soul R&B singer, famous for his recording of “Whose Making Love To Your Old Lady, While You Were Out Makin Love?” (Information obtained from All Music Guide, an Internet source)

Lois M. DeBerry, born May 5, 1945, in Memphis, Tennessee, becomes a politician, serving as Tennessee State Representative, the 91st district, part of Shelby County, as a Democrat, and a political activist. She is an advocate for children, women, education, economic development, and criminal justice reform. She has devoted her life to public service. (Information obtained from Tennessee House Members, an Internet source and Notable Black American Women, Book 2)

LaPhonso Ellis, born May 5, 1970, in East St. Louis, Illinois, becomes a professional basketball player for the Denver Nuggetts and the Miami Heat. (Information obtained from a sports Internet source)

Barrett Brooks, born May 5, 1972, in St. Louis, Missouri, becomes a professional football player for the New York Giants. (Information obtained from a sports Internet source.)

Rushia Brown, born May 5, 1972, in New York City, New York, becomes a professional basketball player for the Cleveland Rockers. (Information obtained from a sports Internet source.)

Darrin Dewitt <>Henson, born May 5, 1972, in Bronx, New York, becomes an actor, choreographer, dancer, author, motivational speaker, and celebrity trainer, director and producer, best known for his instructional dance video and for his portrayal of ex-convict Lem Van Adams on the Showtime TV series “Soul Food,” which to this date (4/2015) is the longest-running drama with a predominantly African American cast in television history. (From: and

Muhsin Muhammad, born May 5, 1973, in Lansing, Michigan, becomes a professional football player for the Carolina Panthers. His first name is Arabic, meaning charitable or one who does good deeds. True to his birthright, Muhsin is active in the Charlotte community and through his foundation M2, conducts an annual football camp that raises money for Muscular Dystrophy along with a Christmas toy drive. He also serves as spokesperson for Men for Change, a group that generates money and awareness for a battered women’s shelter.  In 1999, Muhsin received distinction as the Panther’s Man of the Year, for his efforts in the community. (Information compiled from an Internet source: NFL)

Sheri Sam, born the youngest of eight children, May 5, 1974, in Lafayette, Louisiana, becomes a professional basketball player for the Miami Sol. (Information obtained from an Internet sports source)

Raheem DeVaughn, born May 5, 1975, in Newark, New Jersey, becomes a singer and songwriter, whose debut album, “The Love Experience” (2005), reached No. 46 on the Billboard 200 album chart. It featured the singles “Guess Who Loves You More” and “You.”

Chris Howard, born May 5, 1975, in River Ridge, Louisiana, becomes a professional football player for the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Information obtained from a sports Internet source.)

Yasmin Abshir <>Warsameborn May 5, 1976, in Mogadishu, Somalia, becomes a Canadian model and activist of Somali origin. In 2004, she was named “The Most Alluring Canadian” in a poll by Fashion magazine.

Floyd Wedderburn, born May 5, 1976, in Kingston, Jamaica, becomes a professional football player for the Seattle Seahawks. (Information obtained from a sports Internet source.)

Calvin Wilkinson, born May 5, 1977, in Vineland, New Jersey, becomes a professional football player for the Baltimore Ravens. (Information obtained from a sports Internet source.)

DerMarr Johnson, born May 5, 1980, in Washington, D.C., becomes a professional basketball player for the Atlanta Hawks. (Information obtained from an Internet sports source.)

Christopher Maurice “Chris” Brown born May 5, 1989, in Tappahannock, Virginia, becomes a recording artist, dancer, and actor. He taught himself to sing and dance at a young age and was involved in his church choir and several local talent shows. Having signed with Jive Records in 2004, Brown released his self-titled debut studio album the following year. It peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200 and later certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With his first single “Run It” peaking atop the US Billboard Hot 100, Brown became the first male artist as a lead since Diddy in 1997 to have his debut single top the chart. His second album “Exclusive” (2007) spawned his second Hot 100 number one “Kiss, Kiss”, in addition to “With You” and “Forever”. The album was also certified double platinum by the RIAA.

Martin R. Delaney, born May 6, 1812, in Charlestown, Virginia, (died January 24, 1885), becomes a scientist, ethnologist, lecturer, arguably the first proponent of American Black nationalism. He became one of the first three blacks admitted to Harvard Medical School. He became the first African-American field officer in the United States Army during the American Civil War. Trained as an assistant and a physician, he treated patients during the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1854 in Pittsburgh, when many doctors and residents fled the city. He also discovered and became a member of the International Statistical Conference His maternal and paternal grandfathers were Africans. His paternal grandfather came from the Golah tribe, and maternal grandfather, an African prince from the Mandingo tribe. (More information can be gathered on the life of Martin Delaney from the book Men of Mark.)

Dubois Alsdorf, born May 6, 1827, in Newburg, New York, (died November 3, 1907), becomes an entrepreneur, dance instructor, and organist. During the antebellum period, Professor Alsdorf became the wealthiest and one of the most respected African American men in Newburgh. He is listed in the city’s tax roll as owning a property valued at $1,200. He also served as the organist and contributing member of his father-in-law’s church.  In 1863, Dubois assisted in having the church painted. Dubois later donated a pump organ to the church. In an 1864 photograph some of Newburgh’s men of wealth and stature posed in formal wear as if they -are a committee or board of directors.  In the grouping, which includes the industrialist Homer Ramsdell and Lt. Col. Weygant (who are recognizable from other photographs), stands a Black man believed to be Professor Dubois Alsdorf.  But despite his wealth and respect in both the white and Black communities of Newburgh, racism was still an issue of the time. On December 31, 1860, (New Year’s Eve), a mob of whites attacked the AME Zion Church during the Watchtower service.  The attack is said to be a protest of the impending War of Rebellion. The marauders “broke down the door and committed other depredations.” Bishop Thompson had the offenders arrested, and they paid $100 in repairs to settle the matter. Two years later, the church went under attacked again in the same manner.” In 1862, Dubois and Mary Alsdorf had their first son, Charles T. Alsdorf. The fact that Charles was born during the Civil War may explain his later activities. Dubois Alsdorf also struggled against racism in education. He petitioned the State of New York to allow his son’s access to the prestigious Newburgh Academy. Only the wealthier students of Newburgh were allowed to attend this academy. Blacks were not allowed. Some sources give his birth date as May 16. 1827. (Information compiled from Internet source on Newburg, N.Y. history.)

William Waring Cuney, born May 6, 1906, in Washington, D.C., (died June 30, 1976), becomes a poet of the Harlem Renaissance, a period of burgeoning Black American literary activity during the 1920s and 1930s, Cuney is best known for his widely anthologized poem “No Images.” Though the rest of his work has been largely overlooked, a number of critics regard his poetry as both unprecedented and unsurpassed in its reflection of the language and tempo of the ghetto-dweller. (Information compiled from Contemporary Authors, Online, and Gale, 2002)

Richard H. Austin, born May 6, 1913, in Stouts Mountain, Alabama, (died April 20, 2001), becomes Secretary of the State of Michigan serving from 1971 to 1994. At the time this information was gathered for Who’s Who among African Americans, 15th Edition, Austin became noted as the longest serving African American in a statewide elected U.S. official position. (Information compiled from Who’s Who among African Americans, 15th Edition.)

Gloria St. Clair Hayes Richardson (Dandridge), born May 6, 1922, in Baltimore, Maryland, becomes a civil rights activist who led the Second Ward of Cambridge, Maryland, during the turbulent 1960s, in efforts to desegregate the city. Her grandfather, H. Maynadier St. Clair, became a city council member in Cambridge, Maryland. Richardson attended Frederick Douglass High School (now Maces Lane High School), and in 1942 graduated from Howard University. In June 1962, Richardson became co-chair of Cambridge Non-violent Action Committee (CNAC), and with that she became the virtual leader of the black community in Cambridge. Richardson saw fundamental problems facing blacks in Cambridge as a lack of adequate housing, discrimination in the educational process, lack of equal job opportunity, and poor health. After a survey of the total black community, fifteen demands were made in the areas of employment, housing, and health care. They attacked the entire system of segregation with demands for equal treatment on all scores, including employment, police protection, and schools. Then, in addition to segregation itself, the economic and social systems that segregation defended were attacked–housing, employment, working conditions, and education. During spring 1963, Richardson and the CNAC appealed to the City Council to hear its demands and organized outside support for possible demonstrations. On March 25, 1963, Richardson and co-chair Inez Grubb appeared at a meeting of the city council to inform Mayor Calvin Mowbray that Blacks wanted integration immediately. Several days later Richardson and her followers began picketing and sit-ins. The next seven weeks saw demonstrations at City Hall, the County Courthouse, and the jail. In all, Richardson and eighty protesters were arrested. In May 1963, the much publicized “Penny Trials” were held. A mass trial of the eighty activists resulted in each being fined a penny and given a suspended sentence (CNAC, 47). On May 14, 1963, Richardson, her daughter Donna, and her mother, Mabel St. Clair Booth, were arrested. Richardson and her mother were arrested at the Dizzyland Restaurant. By night’s end, sixty-two persons had been arrested and state police and K-9 dogs arrived to assist local police (Daily Banner, 15 May 1963). (Information compiled from Notable Black American Women, Book 1)

Willie Mays, born May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama, becomes a professional baseball player for Giants. In 1951, named Rookie of the Year, he became a two-time MVP at the compiling of information from National Baseball Hall of Fame. Mays’ received election into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979. Most people consider him to be the greatest all-around player of all time. (Information provided from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, an Internet source.)

Irvin H. Lee, born May 6, 1932 (died in 1980), in Baltimore, Maryland, becomes an author who served in the United States Air Force. A senior master sergeant with the U.S. Air Force, public affairs writer Irvin H. Lee served in the military from 1952 to 1972. He began his career as the editor of military newspapers, moving on to become a television writer and producer for the American Forces Vietnam Network, and then working as an information superintendent. Competent in French, Lee traveled throughout Europe and Asia to gather material for publication in military and civilian newspapers and magazines. He contributed to such magazines as Popular Mechanics, Negro Digest, Link, U.S. Lady, and Airman. Lee was the author of Negro Medal of Honor Men and the editor of Evidence and Procedure in the Administration of Justice. (Information compiled from Contemporary Authors, Online, and the Gale Group)

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, born May 6, 1937, in Clifton, New Jersey, becomes a professional prizefighter, whoduring his lifetime became wrongly convicted twice of a triple murder, and imprisoned for nearly two decades. The movie “The Hurricane,” starring actor Denzel Washington depicted accounts of his life. (Information obtained from an Internet source.)

Calvin Forbes, born May 6, 1945, in Newark, New Jersey, becomes a poet, and an educator of writing, literature, and jazz history. (Information provided from the Academy of American Poets, an Internet source.)

Samuel Kanyon Doe, born May 6, 1951, in Tuzon, Liberia (died September 9, 1990), becomes the 21st President of Liberia, from 1980 to 1990. He served as chairman of the People’s Redemption Council and de facto head of state after staging a violent coup d’etat in 1980 where he killed the previous leader, William Richard Tolbert, Jr. (born May 13, 1913/died April 12, 1980), the 20th President of Liberia from 1971 until 1980. (From: )

Amy Hunter, born May 6, 1966, in Boston, Massachusetts, becomes an actress and model who has had roles on a number of television series and daytime soaps, co-hosted The Comedy Channel’s “Night After Night,” and went on location for ESPN’s Women in Sports and a special guest host on Soul Train, the weekly series where she met her husband, Tony Cornelius, son of creator-producer, Don Cornelius.

Clarence Jones, born May 6, 1968, in Brooklyn, New York, becomes a professional football player for the Carolina Panthers. (Information provided from a sports Internet source.)

Devon Finn, born May 6, 1978, in Winfield, Illinois, becomes a professional football player for the Denver Broncos. (Information provided from a sports Internet source.)

John Abraham, born May 6, 1978, in Timmonsville, South Carolina, becomes a professional football player for the New York Jets. (Information provided from a sports Internet source.)

Gabourey Sidibe, born May, 6 1983, in Bedford–Stuyvesant, New York City borough of Brooklyn, New York, becomes an actress who made her acting debut in the 2009 film “Precious,” a role that brought her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. From 2010 to 2013, she was a main cast member of the Showtime series “The Big C.” Sidibe co-starred on the television series “American Horror Story: Coven” as Queenie and “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” as Regina Ross. She stars in the Fox musical drama series “Empire” as Becky Williams. Sidibe’s mother, Alice Tan Ridley (born December 21, 1952) is a gospel and R&B singer who auditioned on the NBC series America’s Got Talent.

Sasheer Zamata Moore, born May 6, 1986, in Indianapolis, Indiana, known professionally as Sasheer Zamata, becomes an actress, comedienne and writer, who became a featured player on Saturday Night Live beginning January 18, 2014. (From:

Mary Eliza Mahoney, born May 7, 1845, (died January 4, 1926), in Dorchester, Massachusetts, becomes a civil rights activist and founder of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, along with Adah Thoms (born January 12, 1870 to Feb. 21, 1943). Mahoney became America’s first Black professional nurse and is not only remembered for her outstanding personal career, but also for her exemplary contributions to local and national professional organizations. In 1909, Mahoney gave the welcome address at the first conference of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). In recognition of her outstanding example to nurses of all races, NACGN established the Mary Mahoney Award, in 1936. NACGN merged with the American Nurses Association in 1951. Today (at the time this information was compiled for, the award was continuing to be bestowed on recipients biennially, in recognition to significant contributions in interracial relationships. Information compiled from, an Internet source.


Rev. Elias C. Morris, born May 7, 1855, (died?) in Springplace, on the Connesauga, in the Chestnut Hills of North Georgia, becomes president of the National Baptist Convention in 1894. (From: Twentieth Century Negro Literature, page 259 and International Library of Afro-American Life & History, page 102)


Isaac B. Murphy, born May 7, 1861 (died?), in Fayette County, Kentucky, becomes a pioneering race jockey. African American jockeys played conspicuous roles in the horse racing circles of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, dominating thoroughbred racing from the Civil War until 1911. Isaac Murphy was the first jockey of any race to win back–to–back Kentucky Derbies and the first to win the Derby three times. He was one of the stellar jockeys of the era and one of the greatest riders in history, winning 44 percent of all races he rode. Information provided from Notable Black American Men.


Heruy Walda Sellasie, born Gebre Masqal, May 7 or 8, 1878 (died September 19, 1938), in Den Shoan, Ethiopia, becomes an Amharic novelist, biographer, didactic tale-writer and statesman. He is considered the father of modern Amharic literature. He served as Secretary in the Imperial Chancellery, under Menelik II. When Haile Sallasie was proclaimed Regent and Heir to the throne in 1917, Heruy rose quickly with him. He was first made Mayor of Addis Abba. Information obtained from a periodical on Research in African Literature, Fall 1994 edition.

 Fenton Johnson, born May 7, 1888 (died September 17, 1958), in Chicago, Illinois, becomes a poet and the founding editor of “The Champion,” in 1916. 

“Bumble bee Slim,” born Amos Easton, May 7, 1905, in Brunswick, Georgia, (died June 8, 1968 in Indianapolis, IN.) becomes a blues musician.

 Steve Enloe Wylie, born May 7, 1911, in Crossville, Tennessee, (died October 23, 1993, in Clarksville, Tennessee), becomes a professional baseball player for the Negro Leagues, playing for the Clarksville Stars from1927 to 1930. Later she would play for the Crofton Browns.

William Robert Ming, Jr., born May 7, 1911 (died June 30, 1973), in Chicago, Illinois, becomes  an educator and lawyer, best remembered for being a member of the “Brown vs. Board of Education” litigation team and for working on a number of the important cases leading to Brown, the decision in which the United States Supreme Court ruled de jure racial segregation a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendmentof the United States Constitution. In 1974, the NAACP created the William Robert Ming Advocacy Award to be awarded annually to a lawyer “who exemplifies the spirit of financial and personal sacrifice that Mr. Ming displayed in his legal work for the NAACP.” Ming also served on the NAACP’s national legal committee as a member and the national board of directors. (Information obtained from Negro Handbook.)

Darwin T. Turner, born May 7, 1931 (died 1991), in Cincinnati, Ohio. He became an educator. An authority on African-American literature, Darwin T. Turner was an educator, editor, poet, and author whose academic career spanned forty years. He spent twenty of those years at the University of Iowa, where he became chair of Afro-American studies in 1972. Turner’s collegiate life had begun at the age of thirteen, when he was admitted to the University of Cincinnati. He earned his master’s degree only five years later and began to teach English at Clark College the same year. Turner edited a number of anthologies, including Black American Literature: Essays, Poetry, Fiction, Drama, Voices from the Black Experience: African and Afro-American Literature, and The Art of the Slave Narrative: Original Essays in Criticism and Theory, which he edited with John Sekora. He also wrote books of his own, including Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” In a Minor Chord: Three Afro-American Writers and Their Search for Identity, and the poetry volume Catharsis.Turner once told CA: “I write poetry to purge myself of particular emotions and ideas. I write articles because I’ve been asked or because I have something which I believe other people should know or may want to know. No single writer has been a major influence.” (From: Contemporary Authors Online, 2000)


Joseph Walter Scott, born May 7, 1935, in Detroit, Michigan, becomes an educator, sociologist, writer, and anthropologist. He has worked unceasingly for the civil rights and the advancement of all minorities and published approximately 50 articles and chapters, and one book, entitled “The Black Revolts: the Politics of Racial Stratification.” 

Ashenafi Amde Kebede, born May 7, 1937(38), in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, becomes a novelist, composer, music scholar, educator and government official. He founded the Ethiopia’s Institute of Music, in 1963, and was the first African to conduct the Hungarian State Orchestra in Budapest, in 1967. Commissioned by UNESCO, in 1979, Kebede wrote the syllabus for Sudan’s Institute of Music, Dance and Drama. (From: Who’s Who among African Americans, 13th Edition)


Joe Louis Clark, born May 7, 1939, in Rochelle, Georgia, becomes an educator, controversial high school principal, and public school administrator. >Principal Joe Clark came into the national spotlight in the late 1980s for his controversial methods of management at Eastside High, an inner-city school in Paterson, New Jersey. Symbolized by his familiar bullhorn and Louisville Slugger baseball bat, which he toted as he patrolled the halls of Eastside, Clark maintained an environment of staunch authoritarian discipline at the school, regularly expelling what he called “parasites”: students who were disruptive, truant, or “hoodlums, thugs and pathological deviants.” Clark was appointed principal of Eastside in 1982. A twenty-year veteran of the Paterson school district, Clark had previously been principal at PS 6, a troubled inner-city grammar school, which he transformed into what people referred to as the “Miracle on Carroll Street.” Eastside, a predominantly black and Hispanic high school with a student body numbering 3,200, had a reputation for violence and incompetence in a district that state officials once listed as on the verge of “educational bankruptcy.” According to Clark in his 1989 book Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark’s Strategy for Saving Our Schools, “bedlam reigned” at Eastside prior to his arrival. Fighting in school halls and in classrooms was common and weapons had been used against both students and teachers. Drug dealers worked the school daily, both outside and inside the building, and marijuana smoke could often be smelled throughout corridors and in restrooms. Walls and hallways were sprayed throughout with graffiti and broken fencing, windows, doors, and furniture frequently went un-repaired. The educational process at Eastside was equally run-down. Students and teachers worked in a state of perpetual fear, truancy and dropout rates were high, and student academic test scores were among the lowest in the state. (From: Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 1, page 50)


Jimmy Ruffin, born May 7, 1939, in Collinsville, Mississippi, becomes an R&B singer, whose roots in singing began in his local church choir at the age of eight. His older brother, David Ruffin (born Davis Eli David Ruffin, January 18, 1941 to June 1, 1991), becomes an original member of the popular Motown group, “The Temptations.” Jimmy Ruffin recorded, “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.” Ruffin moved to London in 1970…

 Thelma Houston, born May 7, 1946, in Leland, Mississippi, becomes an R&B singer. Her roots began in gospel music, from humble beginnings. Her mother picked cotton to support Houston and her three sisters. One of her famous recordings was entitled, “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” 

Spec. V, Dwight H. Johnson, born May 7, 1947 (died April 30, 1971), in Detroit, Michigan, becomes a war hero of the Viet Nam War for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp5c. Johnson, a tank driver with Company B, was a member of a reaction force moving to aid other elements of his platoon, which was in heavy contact with a battalion size North Vietnamese force. Sp5c. Johnson’s tank, upon reaching the point of contact, threw a track and became immobilized. Realizing that he could do no more as a driver, he climbed out of the vehicle, armed only with a .45 caliber pistol. Despite intense hostile fire, Sp5c. Johnson killed several enemy soldiers before he had expended his ammunition. Returning to his tank through a heavy volume of antitank rocket, small arms and automatic weapons fire, he obtained a submachine gun with which to continue his fight against the advancing enemy. Armed with this weapon, Sp5c. Johnson again braved deadly enemy fire to return to the center of the ambush site where he courageously eliminated more of the determined foe. Engaged in extremely close combat when the last of his ammunition was expended, he killed an enemy soldier with the stock end of his submachine gun. Now weaponless, Sp5c. Johnson ignored the enemy fire around him, climbed into his platoon sergeant’s tank, extricated a wounded crew member and carried him to an armored personnel carrier. He then returned to the same tank and assisted in firing the main gun until it jammed. In a magnificent display of courage, Sp5c. Johnson exited the tank and again armed only with a .45 caliber pistol, engaged several North Vietnamese troops in close proximity to the vehicle. Fighting his way through devastating fire and remounting his own immobilized tank, he remained fully exposed to the enemy as he bravely and skillfully engaged them with the tank’s externally-mounted .50 caliber machine gun; where he remained until the situation was brought under control. Sp5c. Johnson’s profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army. Information compiled from, and Internet source.


Pierre Gabriel Sane, born May 7, 1948, in Dakar, Senegal, becomes Secretary General of Amnesty International, in 1992, a London-based, world-wide campaign movement that works to promote human rights based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international standards.


Mike Sanders, born in May 7, 1960, Vidalea, Louisiana, becomes a professional basketball player for the Indiana Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.


Tony Campbell was born May 7, 1962, Teaneck, New Jersey, becomes a professional basketball player for the Detroit Pistons from 1984 to 1987; Los Angeles Lakers, 1988 and 1989; Minnesota Timberwolves, 1989 to 1992; the New York Knickerbockers, from 1992 to 1994; the Dallas Mavericks in 1994 and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1994 and 1995. He has played with a number of other professional teams in his career.


Chris Hayes, born May 7, 1972, in San Bernadiino California, becomes a professional football player for the New York Jets, from 1997 to 2001; the Green Bay Packers in 1996 and the New England Patriots in 2002.


Izell Reese, born May 7, 1974, in Dothan, Alabama, becomes a professional football player for the Buffalo Bills.


Calvin Booth, born May 7, 1976, in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, becomes a professional basketball player for the Dallas Mavericks and the Seattle Super Sonics.


Deon Humphrey, born May 7, 1976, in Clewiston, Florida, becomes a professional football player for the San Diego Chargers.


Shawn Marion, born May 7, 1978, in Waukegan, Illinois, becomes a professional basketball player for the Phoenix Suns.


Mike Wilks, born May 7, 1979, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, becomes a professional basketball player for the Minnesota Timberwolves.


Rashad Bauman, born Ledduce Rashad Bauman, May 7, 1979, in Tempe, Arizona, becomes a professional football player for the Washington Redskins. While in college, he majored in sociology.


John Dancy, born in slavery, May 8, 1857, in Tarboro, North Carolina, becomes an editor of the Star of Zion (as did our achiever from this date, year 1885), and a Recorder of Deeds for Edgecombe County, North Carolina. He also taught school at the early age of seventeen. He was then appointed a position in the treasury department in Washington, D.C., through the influences of the Honorable John Hyman, then a member of Congress. Dancy became the secretary of the State convention of colored men in 1877, and chief secretary of the State Republican convention of 1880 and 1884. More information can be gathered on the life of John Dancy from Men of Mark.


Lena Doolin Mason, born May 8, 1864, in Quincy, Illinois, becomes a religious leader. She entered the ministry at the age of twenty-three. For the first three years, she preached exclusively to white people. She was also a poet. Clearly an enormously powerful preacher, during the course of her ministry Mason, sources say, spurred 1,617 people to convert. Information provided from Twentieth Century Negro Literature, page 445.


William Jacob Walls, born May 8, 1885, in Rutherford, North Carolina, becomes a bishop of A.M.E. Zion Church, in 1924. He built Soldiers Memorial Church, in Salisbury, 1910-1913. He also built Broadway Temple, in Louisville, Kentucky, 1913-1920. He was editor of the Star of Zion, in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1920 to 1924. He was founder of Camp Dorothy Walls, in Black Mountain, North Carolina, in 1958. Information provided from the Negro Handbook.


Norman “Turkey” Stearnes, born May 8, 1901 (died September 4, 1979), in Nashville, Tennessee, becomes a professional baseball player for the Negro League.  He began playing professionally with the Montgomery Grey Sox of the Negro Southern League in 1921. A fleet-footed power hitter with an unusual batting style, Stearnes demonstrated his hitting prowess early and was signed by the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League in 1923. Through the 1920s, Stearnes compiled a .360+ batting average with the Stars, winning the league batting title four times. But, his success was not solely rested upon his hitting. He was an excellent outfielder with exceptional range and a strong arm. In 1932, Stearnes joined the Chicago American Giants where his performance earned him appearances in four East-West All-Star games, including the inaugural all-star game in 1933. Leaving the windy city in 1936 to play with the Philadelphia Stars, Stearnes turned posted a .350+ season batting average. Again with the Detroit Stars in 1937 he earned another All-Star game appearance and hit for an incredible .383 average. Former teammate, Jimmie Crutchfield, described Stearnes as “quick-jerky sort of guy who could hit the ball a mile. Turkey had a batting stance that you’d swear couldn’t let anybody hit a baseball at all. He’d stand up there looking like he was off balance. But, it was natural for him and you couldn’t criticize him for it when he was hitting everything thrown at him!” Stearnes finished his career with various teams during the 1938-40 seasons. Some included the Nashville Elite Giants, Montgomery Grey Sox, Memphis Red Sox, Detroit Stars, New York Lincoln Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, Cole’s American Giants, Philadelphia Stars, Chicago American Giants, Detroit Black Sox, and Toledo Cubs. Norman Stearnes died on September 4, 1979 in Detroit, MI. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by Committee on Baseball Veterans, 2000.

 Mary Lou Williams, born May 8, 1910 (died May 28, 1981), in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, becomes a jazz musician, pianist, music arranger, and composer. Some have described Williams as the most influential woman in the history of jazz, and say that even does not do her justice. She spent over 50 years in music. She did far more than just break down the gender barriers that kept women out of the elite ranks of jazz instrumentalists; she was among a handful of musicians whose input creatively helped to determine the direction of jazz over much of the twentieth century. She was also known as Mary Lou Bailey, and Mary Elfreda Scruggs. (Information taken from Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 15 page 227) 

Robert Johnson, born May 8, 1911 (died August 16, 1938), in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, becomes a blues man. He has been remembered for his contributions to music by a U.S. stamp in his honor. He became a noted singer, guitarist, and blues musician. It is not known how he learned music and like many blues singers, he moved frequently, playing on street corners and at parties in various towns. Eventually his style came to Chicago and New York City. His southern roots had him recording 29 songs in Texas during 1936 and 1937. Johnson’s voice was high and sometimes ghostly, and he was skilled in changing the sound of his guitar to echo the emotions of his singing. He also improvised melodies with a talent rarely heard previously. He often sang about loneliness, sex, and the fear of evil. One of his most gripping songs is Hell Hound on My Trail 1937. If the blues has a truly mythic figure, one whose story hangs over the music the way a Charlie Parker does over jazz or a Hank Williams does over country, it’s Robert Johnson, certainly the most celebrated figure in the history of the blues. Of course, his legend is immensely fortified by the fact that Johnson also left behind a small legacy of recordings that are considered the emotional apex of the music itself. These recordings have not only entered the realm of blues standards Love in Vain, Crossroads, Sweet Home Chicago, and Stop Breaking Down, but have been adapted by many rock & roll artists. There are historical critics who would be more comfortable downplaying his skills and achievements (most of whom have never made a convincing case as where the source of his apocalyptic visions come from). Robert Johnson remains a potent force to consider. As a singer, a composer and as a guitarist of considerable skills, he produced some of the genre’s best music and the ultimate blues legend to deal with. Doomed, haunted, driven by demons, a tormented genius dead at an early age, all of these add up to making him a character of mythology.

Regis Rajemisa-Raolison, born May 8, 1913, in East Antsirane, Malagasy, becomes a poet, novelist, journalist, statesman, and educator. He served as an educator for thirty-three years (1932-1965). He became president of the Committee of Defense and the leading proponent of the traditional culture in the island.

Haywood B. Rivers, born May 8, 1922, in Morven, North Carolina, becomes an educator, gallery director and painter whose paintings are a source of inspiration and a guide to black abstractionists. His style, at first figurative and then nonobjective, has always involved heavy and vigorous applications of pigment and formidable displays of color. Although he traveled widely in diverse art circles, Rivers also states his North Carolina roots were formative in his artistic development. The daisy fields of the state are among his treasured memories, and the flower’s petals are often design motifs for the artist. In fact, Rivers likened his painting to quilt making, which more than any art movement or style has grounded his practices. “I just can’t work by theories,” he once explained in an interview. “Why not be simple about it?” Information compiled from St. James Guide to Black Artists.  

Ali Hassan Mwinyi, born May 8, 1925, in Kivure, Tanzania, becomes president of Tanzania, who entered politics in 1963; leaving his post as principal of the Zanzibar Teacher Training College to become permanent secretary to the minister of education in Zanzibar. In 1970 he was appointed to the Tanzanian cabinet as minister of state in the president’s office. He held various government posts in succeeding years, including minister of health and home affairs (1982-83) and minister of natural resources and tourism (1982-83); he also served as ambassador to Egypt for five years. In April 1984, Mwinyi was elected president of Zanzibar and chairman of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council. Later that year he was also elected as vice-chairman of the ruling party, CCM. In May 1984, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of CCM proceeded with proposals to change the constitution, reviving the system of two vice-presidents that had lapsed in 1977. Under this system, the president of Tanzania appoints two vice-presidents, one being the president of Zanzibar and the other the prime minister of the Tanzanian government. When Mwinyi was elected president of Zanzibar, he also became Nyerere’s vice-president. The system of two vice-presidents was adopted, in part, to more precisely define Zanzibar’s relationship to the mainland within the union. It was hoped that the system would help put an end to secessionist tendencies in Zanzibar, and the constitutional change also consolidated Mwinyi’s political position. Information complied from Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 1, page 176


Louise Meriwether, born May 8, 1925, in Haverstraw, New York, becomes a novelist. From childhood, Meriwether was firmly committed to a career as a writer. In Los Angeles, she began graduate study at UCLA, interspersing her studies with jobs as a legal secretary, a real estate salesperson, a reporter for the Los Angeles Sentinel, and as story analyst at Universal Studios, and the first black to be hired in that position. In her writings of this period, she was already concerned with important themes–racial oppression, the effects of racism and poverty on the Black family, the victimization of black Americans–that would appear in her later works: “One of her graduate theses, rewritten and published in the October 1965 issue of Negro Digest as “The Negro: Half a Man in a White World,” is a militant rendering of the mistreatment of Blacks in America and documents her early preoccupation with this subject” (Danderidge, 183). She received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1965. In an interview, she said of her journalism career, “I worked as a journalist first and then went back to school for a higher degree” (Ebony, 98). With the publication of her first novel, Daddy Was a Number Runner (1970), Louise Meriwether was hailed by critics as a writer of considerable power. Receiving favorable and enthusiastic reviews, the novel was selected by the New York Times and Library Journal as one of the major books of 1970. Critic James Baldwin, who wrote the Foreword to the novel, sees the significance of the work in relation to the social climate of the times. The success of the novel lies as much in its powerful statement of what it means to be Black in America as in the exploration of a menacing, oppressive world from the perspective of a young black girl: “Because she has so truthfully conveyed what the world looks like from a Black girl’s point of view, she has told everyone who can read or feel what it means to be a Black man or woman in this country. She has achieved an assessment, in a deliberately minor key, of a major tragedy. It is a considerable tragedy” (Foreword, 7). Information compiled from Notable Black American Women, Book 1


Dr. Ethel Allen, born May 8, 1929 (died December 16, 1981), in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, becomes a doctor. From the time she was four years old, she’s wanted to be a doctor. In school she excelled in music, playing both the trumpet and piano. She attended Virginia State University. During these years, it was not easy for a woman, and/or an African American, to be accepted to medical school. Allen applied seven years before she was accepted by the Philadelphia College of Osteopathy. Dr. Allen opened her practice in 1963, but was not just practicing medicine. During the “War on Poverty,” she worked as a director of the federal program “Model Cities.” In 9173, Dr. Allen became a first African American city councilwoman. Information taken from, an Internet source


Samuel C. Jackson, born May 8, 1929, in Kansas City, Kansas, becomes an administrator and general manager of the National Community Development Corporation, in Washington, D.C.  He was also a national leader of racial desegregation policies and practices. In 1965, he was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve as one of the original members of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Four years later, he was appointed by President Richard M. Nixon to serve as General Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He became a major Washington D.C. powerbroker. Information obtained from Ebony Successful 1000 and, an Internet source.


Charles “Sonny” Liston, born 24th of 25 siblings, May 8, 1932(died December 30, 1970 or 1971), in Forest City, Arkansas, becomes a professional boxing champion. Liston was the twenty-fourth of his father’s twenty-five children. Along with his many siblings, Liston grew up working in the local cotton fields. His father was an abusive alcoholic, and Liston left at age thirteen to live with an aunt in St. Louis, Mo., after an argument with him. “We grew up with few clothes, no shoes, little to eat. My father worked me hard and whipped me hard,” Liston said of his childhood. In St. Louis, Liston quickly encountered problems with the local police. Standing six feet, one inch tall and weighing two hundred pounds at the age of sixteen, Liston became a menacing presence in his neighborhood, occasionally working as a strike-breaking labor goon. He was arrested more than twenty times, and a St. Louis police captain once warned him to get out of town before he wound up dead in an alley. However, Liston was convicted on Jan. 15, 1950, of two counts of larceny and two counts of first-degree robbery; he spent more than two years in the Missouri state penitentiary in Jefferson City. While Liston was behind bars, prison athletic director Father Alois Stevens first put a pair of boxing gloves on the teenager, whose hands were so enormous that they measured fifteen inches in circumference when taped. Paroled in 1952, Liston quickly captured the local Golden Gloves championship. He became a professional fighter on Sept. 2, 1953, when he knocked out Don Smith in a single round in St. Louis. Auspiciously, the massive man known as “The Bear” then won his first nine fights before dropping an eight-round decision to Marty Marshall, who broke Liston’s jaw. Sonny was not a man to forget defeat; Marshall lost two rematches with him. Information compiled from Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 9, 1971-1975

Otis Paul Drayton, born May 8, 1939, in Glen Cove, New York, becomes a 1964 Olympic gold medalist in the 4×100 meter-relay, setting Olympic and world records. He equaled the world’s record with his running time in 1962.Information provided from Black Olympian Medalists. 

Mongane Wally Serote, born May 8, 1944, in Johannesburg, South Africa, becomes a writer and a poet. Mongane Wally Serote is perhaps the foremost black South African poet of his generation, and throughout his career his poetry has consistently been a political committed, liberation poetry. According to Serote, any writer, but especially one in a country such as South Africa, cannot separate writing from the political and cultural situation in which he or she writes. As Serote said in 1990 in the Southern African Review of Books, In South Africa’s “anti-life culture” of apartheid, the role of the poet, particularly the black poet, was that of freedom fighter. Writing in English, a language for black South Africans that both represents colonialism and oppression and marks its difference from the oppressors’ tongue, Afrikaans, Serote created a poetry of protest and of hope, but his writing primarily documented the suffering, hope, and struggle of his people. Information compiled from Contemporary Poets, 7thEdition, and St. James Press, 2001

Keith Jarrett, born May 8, 1945, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, becomes a jazz musician who enjoyed over 30 years of accomplishments, starting out playing the piano at the age of three. By the age of seven he already played a recital. More information can be obtained on Jarrett from All Music Guide, an Internet source. Philip Bailey, born May 8, 1951, in Denver, Colorado, becomes an R&B singer, member of the famed 1970s group known as Earth, Wind, and Fire. 

Phil Wiggins, born May 8, 1954, in Washington, D.C., becomes a blues singer and guitarist. Information obtained from Big Book of Blues and All Music Guide, an Internet source.

  Ronnie Lott, born May 8, 1959, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, becomes a professional football player for the San Francisco 49ers. Throughout the 1980s, Ronnie Lott was one of the most feared tacklers in professional football. A nine-time Pro Bowl attendee who has spent his career in the defensive secondary, Lott became the reason the San Francisco 49ers became the dominant team of the 1980s. Many pro football players never see game time in a single Super Bowl. Lott–who combined a deep understanding of football with the ability to hit like a ton of bricks–owns four Super Bowl rings from his days with the 49ers. According to Jill Lieber in Sports Illustrated, Lott “plays the game with passion, throwing his six-foot, 200-pound body at running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends with abandon. He is not only one of the hardest hitters in the NFL, but also one of its most respected players.” Lott’s style of play has taken a toll on his body over the years. He has suffered injuries to his shoulders, neck, fingers, knees, and legs but has continued to play well into his thirties. “People are always asking where I’ll be 10 years from now, if I’ll be able to walk,” the player told Sports Illustrated. “I’m just thankful to be here today. It’s not important to be known as someone who hits hard. It’s important to be thought of as a guy who gives his all. Sure, I’m taking a risk of getting injured or being burned. But one thing you don’t do is sell out on your heart.” Demonstrations of Lott’s “heart” are not confined to the football field. As a 49er, and more recently with the Los Angeles Raiders and the New York Jets, Lott has devoted his time and money to numerous charities and has visited the sick and the homeless on a regular basis. Not one to be uncomfortable with his role model image, Lott told Sports Illustrated: “It’s easy to help others, to give them hope, some belief that they can make it. You’ve got to share yourself. You can’t forget where you came from and that you should help people. The rewards you get from that are better than any others.” Information compiled from Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 9, page 145  

Steve Ingram, born May 8, 1971, in Cheverly, Maryland, becomes a professional football player for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

 Reggie Jones, born May 8, 1971, in Kansas City, Kansas, becomes a professional football player for the San Diego Chargers. Information obtained from CNN Sports Illustrated.

Henry Lusk, born May 8, 1972, in Seaside, California, becomes a professional football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Information obtained from CNN Sports Illustrated, an Internet source.


Chris Sanders, born May 8, 1972, in Denver, Colorado, becomes a professional football player for the Houston Oilers and the Tennessee Titans. Information obtained from, an Internet source.


Keisha Anderson, born May 8, 1974, in (probably) Wisconsin, (The reference source did not list birth location), becomes a professional basketball player, playing for the teams of the Washington Mystics and the Charlotte Sting.Information obtained from, an Internet source.


Calvin Branch, born May 8, 1974, in Versillies, Kentucky, becomes a professional football player for the Oakland Raiders. Information obtained from CNNSI, an Internet sport source.


Korey Stringer, born May 8, 1974, in Warren, Ohio, becomes a professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings.


Chris Coleman, born May 8, 1977, in Shelby, North Carolina, becomes a professional football player for the Tennessee Titans.


Speedy Claxton, born May 8, 1978, in Hempstead, New York, becomes a professional basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs. Information obtained from, an Internet source


Joshua Symonette, born May 8, 1978, in Miami, Florida, becomes a professional football player for the Miami Dolphins. Information obtained from, an Internet sports source.

 Tynesha Lewis, born May 8, 1979 (Place of birth was not given in the referral source), becomes a professional basketball player for the Houston Comets. From, an Internet sports source.

Keyon Dooling, born May 8, 1980, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, becomes a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Clippers. Information obtained from CNNSI, an Internet sports source.


Rudolph Fisher, born May 9, 1897 (died December 26, 1934), in Washington, D.C., and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, becomes a gifted medical doctor and writer of fiction. Dr. Fisher also arranged a number of songs for the gifted, multi-talented Paul Robeson (another achiever of color), when Robeson gave his first concert in New York. Fisher’s first book was entitled “The Walls of Jericho.” He was an African-American businessman and activist. Fisher is considered one of the major or key literary figures of the Harlem Renaissance. He along with Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Zora Hurston, and Wallace Thurman made up the core of the young writers who launched the Renaissance movement. This truly Renaissance man short life (he lived for thirty-seven years) was filled with academic, oratorical, and literary undertakings. He was an active and dominant part of the African-American literary bohemia that dominated black literature in the 1920s and early 1930s. (From: International Library of Afro-American Life & History, page 190)


Edward L. Jones, born May 9, 1920, in Gastonia, North Carolina, becomes an African-American businessman and activist who grew up with a great deal of family admiration, particularly for his grandfather James Hoffman; a stonemason and his mother Nettie, who raised her family alone after his father left in 1925. He also took pride in the accomplishments of his brother Jimmy who started a Boy Scout Troop for Black youths in North Carolina when the BSA was segregated. Jones graduated from Highland H.S. and was member of their State Championship debating team. In that title match, procedural errors caused neither Highland nor Fayetteville to accept the winners Cup. He was a (Sunday School) superintendent and clerk at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, then joining the Army Air Corps in 1940. It was during this time from a farmhouse near Tuskegee, Ala., he helped put in place the administration of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, (the Tuskegee Airmen). By the time he left the military in 1945, he had become the first Black man to achieve the non-commissioned rank of warrant officer, junior grade. After serving his country, Jones graduated from Temple University and soon became the first Black Internal Revenue Service agent for the eastern district of Pennsylvania. From there (in 1961) he was the first Black salesman for Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) and two years later was the first Black in management at Acme Markets. Information compiled from African American Registry.

A.C. Reed born Aaron Corthen May 9, 1926, in Wardell, Missouri, becomes a blues saxophonist, band leader, and singer. >The saxophonist A.C. Reed stands out from the ordinary run of Chicago blues musicians in at least three respects. He formed and led a successful band of his own–something few saxophone players in the blues tradition have done. He was a classically-trained musician, having attended music school and aspired to a big-band career before he started to play the blues. And most distinctive of all is Reed’s unique sense of humor. While many other blues musicians have incorporated humor into their music and stage presence, none has, like Reed, mined a comic vein rooted in a tongue-in- cheek dislike of blues music itself. He took the name of Reed in emulation of his friend (and according to some accounts his cousin), Jimmy Reed. He grew up there and in nearby southern Illinois, and the family was musical; one brother played piano and another handmade bass constructed from a wash tub. Reed himself was drawn to the saxophone after hearing records by swing saxophonists Jay McShann and Paul Bascomb. During World War II he joined the many thousands of other young African Americans who migrated north to take factory jobs. Information compiled from Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 36

Hardy R. Franklin, born May 9, 1929, in Rome, Georgia, becomes president of the American Library Association. The third African American to serve as ALA president in the organization’s 118-year history–and the first in the last two decades–Franklin rose gradually through the ranks until his election in 1992 by almost 40 percent of ALA voters in a three-way race. With a doctorate in library science from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Franklin has been the director of the District of Columbia Public Library since 1974. The native Georgian began his career in earnest at the Brooklyn Public Library in 1956 and was assistant professor with the Queens College Library Science Department before assuming the top post in Washington, D. C. Ironically, the future ALA president was denied the right to read as a boy in the Rome, Georgia public library on the basis of his race. Born on May 9, 1929, in Rome, Franklin was employed at age ten by the Abercrombie’s, a white family, at the rate of $2 per day to read to and entertain their six-year-old son. In that capacity he visited his hometown public library dozens of times. Then, on a spring day in 1939, the young Franklin went to the library–alone this time–to read his favorite book. “You can’t come here by yourself,” the white librarian told him, as Franklin recalled later in the Washington Post. Franklin’s father explained to him that he should “understand that this is part of life,” Franklin remembered, but that prohibition only heightened the young boy’s thirst for literature. “I wanted to read all of the books that I could,” he said. That voracious reading paid off. In 1950 Franklin graduated with a B.A. in sociology from Morehouse College; he earned a master’s degree in Library Science at Atlanta University in 1956. That year Franklin began a lengthy tenure as young adult coordinator, branch librarian, and community coordinator of outreach services, respectively, at the Brooklyn Public Library. A popular gathering spot in those years, the library provided Franklin with research requests ranging far and wide. Once, for instance, he settled a $1,000 bet between two World War II veterans about whose battleship had thicker armor. Information compiled from Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 9

Lloyd Price, born May 9, 1933, in Kenner, Louisiana, becomes an R&B singer and song writer Price, a prominent, influential, and multi-talented musical artist, contributed extensively to R&B and early rock and roll. As a singer and songwriter in the 1950s, he recorded American classics “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Personality,” and “Stagger Lee,” all of which hit the R&B and pop charts. As a record producer, club owner, and shrewd businessman, he founded several successful record labels and the New York City club Turntable. Unlike many other successful artists at the time, Price wrote his own material, and nearly all of his hits were originals. He applied his New Orleans roots in blues music to writing and performing catchy tunes that crossed over onto the pop charts and warranted his status as a major influence in rock history. Price, like many of the successful R&B artists of the 1950s, trained his voice singinggospel in the local church choir. By 1950, the teenage Price was leading a vocal quintet and playing gigs at local clubs. Not content to merely sing songs, Price soon began writing and performing commercial jingles for his local radio station, WBOK. One of these jingles, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” became so popular that Price decided to take it to Imperial Records in an attempt to secure a recording contract. The label turned him down, signing Fats Domino instead. The two became friends, and soon after Price was signed to the Specialty label, he re-recorded his jingle as a full-length song with Domino playing piano. Information compiled from Contemporary Musician, Vol. 25

Ralph H. Boston, born May 9, 1939, in Laurel, Mississippi, becomes a 1960 Olympic gold medalist in the long jump competition. He also received a silver medal, in the 1964 Olympics, and a bronze medal in the 1968 Olympics, both also in the long jump category. He is an African-American athlete, humanitarian and businessman. From Laurel, MS. he was the youngest of ten children. Ralph Harold Boston earned a gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics, silver in the 1964 Melbourne Olympics and a bronze in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. His specialty was the long jump, for which he set a world’s record in1960. From 1960 to 1967, Boston was ranked number one in the world in that event. He also was selected as “World Athlete of the Year” and as the “North American Athlete of the Year.” He was elected into the Helms Hall of Fame in Los Angeles and was the first African-American to be inducted into Mississippi’s Sports Hall of Fame. Boston’s life in corporate and civic tracks mirrors his Olympic career. After leaving Olympic sports competition in 1968, he earned his master’s degree from the University of Tennessee. He served as a consultant to the U.S. Olympic team and as a sportscaster for ESPN before becoming a general partner in a Knoxville, Tenn. TV station. Boston currently is director of customer relations for Ericsson, Inc. In 1985, Boston received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for college athletes who have gone on to become successful in other areas. He also has been inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Olympic Hall of Fame, and recently was elected to the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame. Information compiled from African American Registry, an Internet source.

George Wilson, born May 9, 1942, in Meridian, Mississippi, becomes the recipient of a 1964 Olympic gold medal, in the area of basketball. Afterwards, he played professional basketball for the Cincinnati Royals, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, Seattle Super Sonics, and the Philadelphia 76ers. He played a total of seven years. Information obtained from The Black Olympian Medalists.


James A. Butts, born May 9, 1950, in Los Angeles, California, becomes an Olympic silver medalist. He graduated from UCLA in 1974. When Butts placed second at the Montreal Games, he became the first U.S. athlete to win an Olympic triple jump since 1928. Information obtained from The Black Olympian Medalists.


Tony Gwynn, born May 9, 1960, in Los Angeles, California, becomes a professional baseball player for the San Diego Padres. Tony Gwynn is known as one of the most prolific hitters in baseball history, and he did not achieve this status by accident. Gwynn videotapes every at-bat and after the game transfers the original video to another tape so that he can study his swing at home. He watches each tape to analyze and correct any fault that has crept into his batting stroke. Gwynn has created three categories to catalogue each time he comes up to the plate: good at-bats, at-bats which yielded hits and swings which yielded hits. Gwynn even brings his video equipment on the road. At one time in his career, he brought 11 videos on the road to study his performance against each individual team in the National League (N.L.). Gwynn is often the first one to the stadium, searching for ways to improve one of the most technically sound swings in baseball. A look at Gwynn’s career statistics shows his unwavering commitment to excellence. In 16 seasons he has been the San Diego Padres all-time leader in batting average (.340), hits (2780), runs (1,237) doubles, triples, stolen bases, and runs batted in. In those 16 years Gwynn has been an All-Star 13 times, won eight N.L. batting titles, and won five Gold Gloves. He has batted over .300 for the last 15 straight seasons, has a .300 batting average against every team in the N.L., and has never finished lower than sixth in the N.L. batting race. Gwynn’s wife Alicia has always been an important part of his professional and personal life. He grew up with her in Long Beach, CA, playing baseball and racing home from elementary school each day. The two started dating in high school and have been together ever since. Another major influence on Gwynn was his parents Charles and Vendella Gwynn. Both of them worked on separate schedules, so they were rarely home at the same time. They did have time to instill the values of hard work and dedication in the second of their three sons. These values helped him excel at two sports at San Diego State–baseball, and the sport for which he earned a scholarship, basketball. Though he eventually chose baseball, he was still good enough in basketball to be drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers, an NBA franchise. Information compiled from Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 18, and the Celebrity Register

Richard D. Nanula, born May 9, 1960, in Los Angeles, California, becomes a business executive. Richard Nanula would rather talk sports than politics, prefers mystery novels to books on business theory, and was known to read the newspaper during class at Harvard. However, as the youngest person to become a Fortune 500 chief financial officer (CFO), Nanula clearly knows how to put his time to good use. He spent twelve years working for Disney, where he was promoted to senior executive vice president and served as CFO for a $22 billion company. In 1998, he accepted the position of president and chief executive officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, a company that had recently become the world’s largest hotel and gaming company. Nanula’s associations with Disney and Starwood are spectacular, even a bit glamorous. With this in mind, Sarah Ryle commented in the Observer, “Nanula sounds just a little bit flashy. Now look again. Without a hint of irony, Nanula says he took his current job because it gave him the chance to work with his best friend [Barry S. Sternlicht]. He exudes quiet restraint.” Throughout his career, Nanula has developed a professional reputation for being fiscally conservative and a nice guy to work for; outside of work, he is quick to talk about his love of sports as a player and spectator, but otherwise keeps his personal life private. He called himself a “multiprocessor” in a 1998 New York Times interview, referring to the fact that he can do several things at once. He likes to watch five television sets at one time (he has a special touch pad that allows him to control the channels and volume) and once moved a business negotiation to the Super Bowl so that he could watch the game. When he was in business school at Harvard, Nanula often sat at the back of the classroom so that he could do other work–or read the paper–when the pace of discussion slowed. These skills are sure to serve him well at Starwood, where he faces the enormous challenge of turning a promising young company into a proven competitor. Information compiled from Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 20

David Benoit, born May 9, 1968, in Lafayette, Louisiana, becomes a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Toronto Raptors. (Information obtained from an Internet sports source.)


Doug Christie, born May 9, 1970, in Seattle, Washington, becomes a professional basketball player for the Toronto Raptors and the Sacramento Kings. (Information obtained from an Internet sports source.)


Tamia, born Tamia Nee Washington, May 9, 1975, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, becomes an R&B singer. She was featured on a Quincy Jones album, singing a recording of “You Put A Move On My Heart, “in 1995. She was one of the vocals with Gladys Knight, Brandy, and Chaka Khan, on the song entitled, “Missing You.” Tamia has also worked with artists such as Eric Benet, on his album entitled “A Day in the Life.”


Wilbert Brown, born May 9, 1977, in Hooks, Texas, becomes a professional football player for the Washington Redskins. (Information obtained from an Internet sports source.)


Danny Clark, born May 9, 1977, in Country Club Hills, Illinois, becomes a professional football player for the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Information obtained from an Internet sports source.)


Chris Porter, born May 9, 1978, in Abbeville, Alabama, becomes a professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors.


Rosario Dawson, born May 9, 1979, becomes an actress, singer, and write who’s appeared in films such as “Kids,” “Men in Black II,” “25th Hour” and “Sin City.”


Javin Hunter, born May 9, 1980, in Detroit, Michigan, becomes a professional football player for the Baltimore Ravens.

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