Black History Month originated in 1926, founded by Carter G. Woodson and was created to celebrate achievements, births, important timelines, events and to remember those we lost.
1. Todd Duncan
1903: Todd Duncan, the first African American singer to perform in the New York City Opera was born on this day in Danville, KY. He passed away in 1998 at age 95. (Photo: Youtube)
2. The NAACP was Founded
1909: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded. The purpose and the focus of the NAACP is “To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”
3. WW II Army Vet Isaac Woodard
1946: WW II Army veteran Isaac Woodard was beaten and permanently blinded after a run-in with the South Carolina police. During his radio show, Orson Welles read an affidavit sent to him by the NAACP, signed by Woodard. Welles promised to root out the officer responsible, and made the case a major focus of his weekly show. The events and outcome of the Woodard case partially inspired Welles’ 1958 film, Touch of Evil. Woody Guthrie later recalled “I sung ‘The Blinding of Isaac Woodard’ in the Lewisohn Stadium one night for more than 36,000 people, and I got the loudest applause I’ve ever got in my whole life.”
4. Eubie Blake
1983: Eubie Blake passed away, aged 96. He was a composer, lyricist and pianist of ragtime, jazz, and popular music. In 1921, Blake and long-time collaborator Noble Sissle wrote the Broadway musical Shuffle Along, one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African Americans.
5. Jalacy Hawkins aka Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
2000: Jalacy Hawkins aka Screamin’ Jay Hawkins passed away, aged 70. He was a musician, singer, and actor. Famed chiefly for his powerful, operatic vocal delivery and wildly theatrical performances of songs such as “I Put a Spell on You”, Hawkins sometimes used macabre props onstage, making him an early pioneer of shock rock.