Archive | February 2012

We’re Makin’ History

  Black History does not mean that important events, people, and inventions all took place in or around the 1800’s. There are plenty of things that have taken place in recent history. Here are just a couple of the highlights over the last few decades.

* 1957 Nine black students are blocked from entering the school on the orders of Governor Orval Faubus. Federal troops and the National Guard are called to intervene on behalf of the students, who become known as the “Little Rock Nine.” Despite a year of violent threats, several of the “Little Rock Nine” manage to graduate from Central High.

* 1961 Over the spring and summer, student volunteers begin taking bus trips through the South to test out new laws that prohibit segregation in interstate travel facilities, which includes bus and railway stations. Several of the groups of “Freedom Riders,” as they are called, are attacked by angry mobs along the way. The program, sponsored by The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), involves more than 1,000 volunteers, black and white.

* 1976 Alex Haley receives a special Pulitzer Prize for his novel Roots. The next year, made into a mini-series, Roots will be one of the most popular shows in the history of television.

* 1986 Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is made into a national holiday.

* 1996 Amid growing racial tension in the South, nearly 40 primarily African American churches are burned there.

* 2000 In the largest settlement ever in a U.S. racial discrimination suit, the Coca-Cola Company agrees to pay out $192.5 million to roughly 2,000 African American employees.

* 2008 On November 4th, 2008, Barack Obama defeated Republican presidential nominee John McCain for the position of U.S. President, 52.9 percent to 45.7 percent. On January 20, 2009, Obama became the 44th president of the United States—and the first African-American to hold this office.

Although Black History Month officially takes place in February, let us not forget that Black History should not be limited to the shortest month of the year, but yet celebrated every day. I hope you have enjoyed my three part history series. See you next Thursday:)

The Originator

   Segment Two of my history lesson will focus on African American inventions.

  • The potato chip was invented in 1853 by George Crum.
  • The street letter drop mailbox with a hinged door that closed to protect the mail was invented by Philip B. Downing. This was patented on October 27, 1891.
  • Sarah E. Goode invented the folding cabinet bed, a space-saver that folded up against the wall into a cabinet. Her patent was the first one obtained by an African-American woman inventor (July 14, 1885).
  • Granville T. Woods invented the Multiplex Telegraph, a device that sent messages between train stations and moving trains in 1887.
  • Dr. Patricia Bath was the first African-American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose (1988). Her Laserphaco Probe is used around the world to treat cataracts.
  • Frederick McKinley Jones invented the refrigeration system for trucks in 1940.

Some improvements that also made history include:

– William Purvis… Fountain Pen in 1890.

– Alexander Miles…  Elevator in 1887.

– Sarah Goode… Ironing Board in 1892.

– Lewis Latimer… Carbon Filament in the Light Bulb in 1881.

Stay tuned for the next history lesson… .

I Am Malcolm X

One of the many things that I miss about working at a school is presenting daily African-American facts during Black History Month. Not only could the students learn about all the greatness that stems from their heritage and where we came from, but I also took it personal. I saw it as my own history lesson. One thing that I did stress was that February should not be the only month to learn about our history. Instead, look at February as a time to celebrate our successes, contributions, and accomplishments and be proud of our people. So, what I plan to share is only a couple of African-American Firsts. Enjoy:)

  • Macon Bolling Allen was the first African-American to pass the bar and practice law in the United States in 1845. He was also the first black American Justice of the Peace and the first African-American licensed to practice law in the U.S.
  •  Arthur Ashe was the first African-American to win the U.S. Open (1968); to come in first in the Wimbeldon men’s singles (1975); and be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (1985). In 1963, tennis champion Arthur Ashe was the first African-American to be named to the U.S. Davis Cup team.
  • Actress Diahann Carroll won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a TV Series in 1968 for her role on the sitcom Julia. Carroll was the first African-American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker.
  • Politician and educator Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. She was also the first major-party African-American candidate for President of the United States.
  • Human rights activist Clara “Mother” Hale founded the first and, at the time, the only black social services agency in America in 1975. Over the course of her life, Mother Hale received more than 370 awards for her work in the fight against AIDS and inner city drug use.
  • Robert Johnson, the owner of Black Entertainment Television (BET), became the first black billionaire in America in 2001.

Stay tuned for the next “I Am Malcolm X” segment… .

Saving All My Love

I really wasn’t going to do this, but now I feel compelled. {Sigh} After just watching Whitney perform the “Star Spangled Banner” (at the 1991 Super Bowl) and the end of “I Will Always Love You” (at an awards show a couple years ago) on the music channel, I sat in admiration. She sang effortlessly.  Left with a face full of tears, her passing finally hit me. Since Saturday, I’ve noticed that many female singers have been compared to her, such as Mariah Carey, Beyonce, etc. I’m sorry, but there is no comparison whatsoever. Whitney’s powerhouse vocals were beyond incredible and were untouchable. Her strength, her range, her overall pureness of good old fashion raw talent. There is and was no other. Not only was a legend taken from us too soon, but she was also a music icon. I am truly saddened, and hope that she rests in peace as her music lives on and continues to bless us with her authentic gift.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston

August 9th, 1963- February 11th, 2012

How to Avoid Sleeping on the Couch Valentine’s Day Night

Obviously, this post is particularly for the fellas. Let me let you in on a little secret. Valentine’s Day to a single woman is like a mother with a crying child on a plane; she avoids it and pretends that that it doesn’t exist. On the other hand, to a woman who is not single (dating, in a relationship, or married), it means just as much as a birthday. This is the day to show how romantic you are, show how much you care, and how much she means to you. So if you put little thought into what you “reward” her with on V Day, don’t expect a warm embrace from her. Just saying- don’t shoot the messenger.

So, what are some good things to do or give on this special day you ask? Well, I can give you a couple ideas. Please keep in mind that they are not in any type of order.

  Jewelry (you shouldn’t be surprised about this making the list). Any type will do as long as it doesn’t look cheap, used, or, of course, ugly.

  A nice hot oil massage for her back and feet.

  A home cooked candlelight meal (that you made, please don’t let her cook her own meal). And don’t forget the dessert:)

  An original poem or song that you made and framed.

  Candy- this does not mean stop at the nearest gas station and pick up a Snickers bar. But something with some thought behind it. Something upscale. Or even her favorite.

  An outfit you want her to wear for Valentine’s Day. It could be a hot lil number for dinner or after dinner.

  Take a trip.

  Personalize This- you could engrave anything from a watch, to a photo album, to a jewelry box. And they are not as expensive as you think.

  A gift basket- there are tons out there that include cookies, candy, brownies, fruit, or a combination.

  And when all else fails, some nice smell goods from Bath and Body Works.

If you noticed, cards and flowers did not make the cut, because they are simply unacceptable when given, especially alone. What “successful” gifts have you given that you can add to the list?

Don Cornelius’ Death Overshadowed?

Many were rocked when news hit about Don Cornelius’ passing, especially due to the manner of death. He was only seventy-five years old. To me, that’s like quitting a race when you’re almost at the finish line. But the issue here is not about how he died or the reasons that may surround it, it is the lack of press he received.

I’ll be honest, I get most of my news from AOL (and then I might tune in to channel 7 news), because that’s my primary email provider. When I first saw the news about Cornelius, I saw that his picture was on a side panel. As the hours passed, he stayed on the side. My first thought was, “Oh, it must’ve just happened, or it was from one source. It’ll probably make the headlines in a minute.” And did it? No. You know what did? A singer’s sister overdosed. I had to look her up to see who she was (and who her “famous” brother was) because she’s not even famous! How did Cornelius end up as a side story to this? Reports of her death circulated for days, while Cornelius’s post vanished from the side the next day.

Another recent loss that affected the Hip Hop community was the shocking death of Heavy D, another story that didn’t reach circulation on AOL. This was another side story. I had to dig to find that he did a radio interview that morning, his performance on the BET Hip Hop awards show was his first in fifteen years (which he was very nervous for), and he was recently in London performing a tribute to Michael Jackson.

The night of Cornelius’ passing, I did some research on him too; his life, family, achievements, everything. I know that he was the creator of Soul Train, but what else is his claim to fame?

  • Cornelius started out in the insurance business in the 1950’s.
  • He jumped into broadcasting in 1966 and began his career as a sub DJ, then a sports anchor. Soul Train originated as a local show on WCIU-TV in Chicago in the mid-1960s. Once it reached television, Cornelius was the host from 1971-1993, which widened exposure to black musicians, as well as created opportunities for talented dancers that would presage subsequent television dance programs. Soul Train premiered on August 17th, 1970 and was syndicated in 1971.
  • He had a small number of film roles, most notably as record producer Moe Fuzz in 1988’s Tapeheads.In 1987,
  • Cornelius started the Soul Train Music Awards and the Lady Soul Awards in 1995.

So the moral of the story is… people who have changed history and brought goodness (and entertainment) into people’s lives deserve a lot more than a brief mention of their death.

R.I.P. Don Cornelius         R.I.P. Dwight “Heavy D” Myers

Top Five Things NOT to Say to an Unemployed Person

For starters, if you have never been in this unfortunate position, you would not completely understand the dynamics of the situation. Whether you are laid off, fired, looking for a new job, or whatever your situation is, the opportunities out there are slim pickings and have been for some time. It is frustrating enough to get an interview, much less a secure job, but there are some things that people say to you that simply do not help this process.

5. “You didn’t like your last job, so you got what you wanted.” Nobody asks to be broke. Getting out of a bad situation is ideal, of course, but landing in a worse one would definitely not be considered the grand prize. I know what you’re saying, but this does not help.

4. “Damn, you haven’t found nothing yet?” Self-explanatory.

3. “What have you been doing?” Well, I’ve just been propped up in bed, eating ice cream, tuned in to Jerry Springer, and watching the days whiz by. People don’t realize how insulting this question is. Just because I’m at the crib, doesn’t mean that I haven’t been productive in my job search. We do live in the age of technology and most jobs require your resume to be emailed or they have you do an online application. Would it make you feel better if I went to the library and applied on their computer instead of using mine at home?

2. “At least it’s a job.” Accepting whatever job in order to pay the bills is last resort. The goal is to find either the same job as the last or better, not settling. Would you say the same if you were talking about a person? “At least you’ve got a boyfriend.” NO. This is a no-win line. Yeah, you have a job, but you probably have to sacrifice your sanity and happiness.  This rationale does not work for everybody.

And, once you finally secure some kind of job, what’s the worst thing that you can hear?

1. “Your check has not been processed yet.” Need I say more?

So, what did you learn today… Unless you have something productive to say, such as “So and so is hiring”, “I can write you a recommendation”, or “My friend so-so can pass on your name/resume”, don’t talk.