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Frederick McKinley Jones was a prolific early 20th century black inventor who helped to revolutionize both the cinema and refrigeration industries.  Over his lifetime, he patented more than sixty inventions in divergent fields with forty of those patents in refrigeration. He is best known for inventing the first automatic refrigeration system for trucks.

Jones was born on May 17, 1893 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  His mother died when he was nine, and he was forced to drop out of school.  A priest in Covington, Kentucky, raised him until he was sixteen. Upon leaving the rectory, Jones began working as a mechanic’s helper at the R.C. Crothers Garage in Cincinnati.  Jones would spend much of his time observing the mechanics as they worked on cars, taking in as much information as possible.  These observations, along with an insatiable appetite for learning through reading helped Jones develop an incredible base of knowledge about automobiles and their inner workings. Within three years his skills and love for cars had netted him a promotion to shop foreman. 

By nineteen, he had built and driven several cars in racing exhibitions and soon became one of the most well know racers in the Great Lakes region. During World War I, Jones was a sergeant in the U.S. Army and served in France as an electrician. While serving, he rewired his camp for electricity, telephone, and telegraph service.  In 1919, after being discharged by the Army, he moved to Hallock, Minnesota where he began his study of electronics, eventually building a transmitter for a local radio station.  To make ends meet, Jones often aided local doctors by driving them around for house calls during the winter season. When navigation through the snow proved difficult, Jones attached skis to the undercarriage of an old airplane body and attached an airplane propeller to a motor.  He was soon whisking doctors around town at high speeds in his new “snow machine.”

Over the next few years he would invent more and more innovative machines.  When one of the doctors he worked for complained that he had to wait for patients to come into his office for x-ray exams, Jones created a portable x-ray machine that could be taken to the patient. Unfortunately, like many of his early inventions, Jones never thought to apply for a patent.  He watched helplessly as other men made fortunes off of their versions of the same device.
Impervious, Jones began new projects including a radio transmitter, personal radio sets, and eventually motion picture devices. In 1927, Joseph Numero, the head of Ultraphone Sound Systems, hired Jones as an electrical engineer.  Numero’s company made sound equipment that was used in movie houses throughout the Midwest.  Always the innovator, Jones converted silent-movie projectors into talking projectors by using scrap metal for parts.  In addition, he devised ways to stabilize and improve the picture quality.  

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In 1939, Jones invented and received a patent for an automatic ticket-dispensing machine to be used at movie theaters. He later sold the patent rights to RCA. Eventually, Numero and Jones formed a partnership called the U.S. Thermo Control Company, with Jones as vice president.  He was given the task of developing a device that would allow large trucks to transport perishable products without spoiling. Jones set to work and his automatic refrigeration system, the Thermo King, was born.  Eventually, he modified the original design so it could be outfitted for trains, boats, and ships. The Thermo King transformed the shipping and grocery businesses. Grocery chains were now able to import and export products that previously could only have been shipped as canned goods. As a result, the frozen food industry was born and for the first time consumers could enjoy fresh foods from around the globe and U.S. Thermo became a multimillion-dollar company.

During World War II, a need for a unit for storing blood serum for transfusions and medicines led Jones into further refrigeration research.  For this, he created an air-conditioning unit for military field hospitals and a refrigerator for military field kitchens. 
As a result, may lives were saved.  A modified form of his device is still in use today. In 1944, Jones became the first African American to be elected into the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers.  During the 1950s, he was a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Bureau of Standards.  

When he died on February 21, 1961, Jones had more than sixty patents.  In honor of his tremendous achievements as an inventor, he was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Technology.  Jones was the first black inventor to ever receive such an honor. – See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/jones-frederickmckinley-1893-1961#sthash.lxsZ7zDF.dpuf

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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Inspirational Sips

 

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Daily Inspirational Sip

Daily Inspirational Sip

Biography courtesy of wikipedia.org

Early years
Max Robinson (May 1, 1939 – December 20, 1988) was an American broadcast journalist, and ABC News World News Tonight co-anchor. He was the first African-American broadcast network news anchor in the United States and one of the first television journalists to die of AIDS. He was a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.[1]

Robinson was born to Maxie and Doris Robinson in Richmond, Virginia, and went on to attend Oberlin College, where he was freshman class president. He briefly served in the United States Air Force and was assigned to the Russian Language School at Indiana University before receiving a medical discharge. He began working in radio early on, including a short time at WSSV-AM in Petersburg, Virginia, where he called himself “Max The Player,” and later at WANT-AM, Richmond.

Career
Robinson began his television career in 1959, when he was hired for a news job at WTOV-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia. He had to read the news while hidden behind a slide of the station’s logo. One night, Robinson had the slide removed, and was fired the next day.[2] He later went to WRC-TV in Washington, DC, and stayed for three years, winning six journalism awards for coverage of civil-rights events such as the riots that followed the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was during this time that Robinson won two regional Emmys for a documentary he made on black life in Anacostia entitled The Other Washington.

In 1969, Robinson joined the Eyewitness News team at WTOP-TV (now WUSA-TV) in Washington, D.C. He was teamed with anchor Gordon Peterson, becoming the first African-American anchor on a local television news program, and the newscast took off. During that time, he was so well-liked by viewers that when Hanafi Muslims took hostages at the B’nai B’rith building in Washington they would speak only with Robinson.

ABC News and World News Tonight
In 1978, when Roone Arledge was looking to revamp ABC News’ nightly news broadcast into World News Tonight, he remembered Robinson from a 60 Minutes interview, and hired him to be a part of his new three-anchor format. Robinson would anchor national news from Chicago, while Peter Jennings would anchor international news in London and Frank Reynolds would be the main anchor from Washington. Robinson thus became the first black man to anchor a nightly network news broadcast. The three-man co-anchor team was a ratings success, and launched spoofs regarding how the three would pitch stories to each other during the telecast by saying the other’s name: “Frank”…”Max”….”Peter,” etc.

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Robinson’s ABC tenure was marked by conflicts between himself and the management of ABC News over viewpoints and the portrayal of Black America in the news. In addition, he was known by his co-workers to show up late for work or sometimes not show up at all, along with his moods, and his use of alcohol escalated. In addition, Robinson was known to fight racism at any turn and often felt unworthy of the admiration he received and was not pleased with what he had accomplished. Together with Bob Strickland, Robinson established a program for mentoring young black broadcast journalists.[3]

During most of Robinson’s tenure, ABC News used the Westar satellite to feed Robinson’s segment of WNT from Chicago to New York. TVRO receiver earth stations were also coming into use at the time, and anyone who knew where to find the satellite feeds could view the feed. On the live feed, Robinson could be seen to have a drink or two, but never during the actual aired segment, which led some bars around the country to even have drink specials during the nearly 90 minutes, and inviting patrons to come in and see the “Max ‘R'” feed. ABC eventually caught on to what was happening, and even resorted to hide what was going on by supering a slide with the words “ABC News Chicago” on the screen during the live feed during times that Robinson was not live over the actual WNT broadcast. In addition, Robinson could often be seen being harsh towards those who worked around him during the live feed.[4]

Reynolds died in 1983, and shortly afterward Jennings was named sole anchor of World News Tonight. Robinson was relegated to the weekend anchor post, as well as reading hourly news briefs. He left ABC in 1984 to become the first black anchor at WMAQ-TV in Chicago. He retired in 1985.

Personal life
Max Robinson was married three times. Two ended in divorce, one in annulment. His first marriage was to Eleanor Booker and they had three children: Mark, Maureen and Michael. His second marriage was to Hazel O’Leary. His final marriage was to Beverly Hamilton, with whom he had another son, Malik.

Robinson was found to have AIDS while he was hospitalized for pneumonia in Illinois, but he kept it a secret. In the fall of 1988, Robinson was in Washington to deliver a speech at Howard University’s School of Communications when he became increasingly ill. Robinson checked himself into Howard University Hospital, where he died of complications due to AIDS on December 20, 1988. Robinson denied being gay or bisexual.[5] At his service, he was eulogized by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He was a brother to Randall Robinson.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Inspirational Sips

 

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Daily Inspirational Sip

Biography courtesy of http://www.anb.org

Randolph, Asa Philip (15 Apr. 1889-16 May 1979), founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and civil rights leader, was born in Crescent City, Florida, the son of James William Randolph, an itinerant African Methodist Episcopal preacher, and Elizabeth Robinson. The family placed great stress on education. Thus Randolph, an honor student, was sent to Cookman Institute in Jacksonville, Florida (later Bethune-Cookman College). Although greatly influenced by his father’s political and racial attitudes, Randolph resisted pressure to enter the ministry and later became an atheist. Upon graduation from Cookman, in 1907, he found himself barred by racial prejudice from all but manual labor jobs in the South, and so in 1911 he moved to New York City, where he worked at odd jobs during the day and took social science courses at City College at night.

The radical ideologies advocated by the Socialists and the Industrial Workers of the World, then at their peak of influence, helped form his philosophy. He met Chandler Owen, a student at Columbia Law School, and the pair worked out a synthesis based on Marxian economic ideas and the sociological theories of Lester Frank Ward: men could be truly free only if they were not subject to economic deprivation. Randolph and Owen joined the Socialist party and became soapbox orators propagandizing for black unionism. They opened an employment office in Harlem, began a training program for migrants arriving from the South, and tried, unsuccessfully, to organize black workers into unions. In 1913 Randolph married Lucille Campbell Green, a widow six years older than himself whom he had met while acting in Shakespearean plays for a Harlem theater group. (The couple did not have children.) The theater training accounted for Randolph’s Oxford accent and helped him hone his public speaking technique, while Lucille Randolph’s earnings as a hairdresser and beauty shop owner supported his subsequent undertakings.

In 1917 Randolph and Owen began publishing the Messenger magazine with the slogan the “only magazine of scientific radicalism in the world published by Negroes.” Although they were pacifists and were briefly jailed for their opposition to the First World War, the partners concluded that only force, economic or physical, could secure full citizenship rights for African Americans. They argued that only through socialism and labor organization could the race be upgraded economically. For expressing such sentiments, the Department of Justice labeled the Messenger “the most able and the most dangerous of all the Negro publications.” Later, as the Messenger began publishing the work of young black poets and authors, a critic called it “one of the most brilliantly edited magazines in the history of Negro journalism.”

Hoping to capitalize on the increased African-American vote resulting from the great migration of blacks from the rural South to the urban North, in 1920 Randolph, his wife, and Owen all ran for office on the Socialist ticket. The majority of African Americans remained unimpressed by socialism, however, and none of the three was elected. Nevertheless, Randolph and Owen started a variety of groups, such as the Friends of Negro Freedom, to draw African Americans into the labor movement. None was particularly successful, perhaps because they vacillated between integrating their organizations and making them racially exclusive.

Randolph’s intellectual clique became a victim of the postwar fear of radicalism that developed partly in response to the Bolshevik Revolution. Government repression of both black and white radicals ensued. In addition, the editorial staff of the Messenger became deeply divided by three major disagreements in the early 1920s. The issues–support for Marcus Garvey and his Back-to-Africa movement, the ever-widening gulf between West Indian and American blacks, and the rupture of the Socialist party over the Bolshevik Revolution–were interrelated. Garvey’s advocacy of racial separatism conflicted with Randolph’s promotion of working-class solidarity across racial lines. Because Garvey came from Jamaica, this rift degenerated into a West Indian versus African-American controversy, especially when Randolph and Owen mounted a “Garvey Must Go” campaign in an effort to have him deported. In 1919 most West Indian radicals went into the new Communist party, while most American blacks remained with Randolph’s socialist faction; but because of the party’s factional infighting, socialist financial support for the Messenger declined. These ideological wars made Randolph a confirmed anticommunist.

Randolph began writing for more moderate journals like Opportunity and in 1925 was invited to organize the Pullman porters. Because they had steady jobs and traveled the country, the porters were considered the elite of black labor. Yet since they were not unionized, they typified the large segment of exploited and underpaid black employees. As the one occupation where African Americans held a near monopoly, the porters offered possibilities for labor organization that Randolph’s previous targets had not, and because Randolph was not employed by Pullman, the company could not fire him. The Messenger meanwhile became the official organ of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP).

Seizing on their complaints of onerous work rules, Randolph educated the porters about the value of collective bargaining and trade unionism, giving them a keener appreciation of their unstable economic position as workers. Realizing that the strength of the union ultimately depended on its ability to correct grievances and provide job security, Randolph believed nonetheless that the primary issue was color. Pullman had previously dealt with labor unions, but to sit down and bargain with African Americans was a concept the company was not ready to accept. Amazingly, the brotherhood enrolled 51 percent of the porters within a year. Pullman, consequently, attempted to undermine the union with a series of retaliatory measures including frame-ups, beatings, and firings.

The failure of his efforts to obtain mediation under the 1926 Watson-Parker Railway Labor Act and his attack on the tipping system before the Interstate Commerce Commission forced Randolph into calling a strike in 1928; but striking went against the tradition of black labor. African Americans were accustomed to finding jobs as strikebreakers, and they were afraid that other blacks would be eager to take what was considered to be the plush job of a Pullman porter. In response to rumors that Pullman had nearly 5,000 Filipinos ready to take the places of brotherhood members, William Green, head of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), persuaded Randolph to postpone the strike. Membership in the union then dropped by half, publication of the Messenger ceased, and the telephone and electricity at the brotherhood’s headquarters were disconnected for lack of funds.

Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, Section 7A of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 guaranteed labor the right to organize and select bargaining representatives without interference from the employer. As a result, membership in the BSCP increased. Aided by its new organ, the Black Worker, and William Green’s conviction that the brotherhood acted as a barrier to Communist penetration into African-American labor, the BSCP received a charter from the AFL in 1935. Finally, on 25 August 1937 the Pullman Company signed a contract with the nation’s first black union. A personal triumph for Randolph, the agreement brought an extra $2 million a year to the porters and their families as well as greater job security and the ability to bargain collectively for better working conditions.

The victory over Pullman gave Randolph enormous prestige in both the black and the white communities. In addition, Randolph courted journalists, thereby assuring that the brotherhood received publicity far out of proportion to its size. Over time, as Randolph used the BSCP for the foundation of all his civil rights organizations, the union came to wield influence much greater than its membership warranted.

To Randolph the brotherhood represented more than an instrument of service to the porters and a tool to wage a nationwide struggle to gain equality for African Americans. He also utilized it to stimulate black participation in unions and to fight discrimination in organized labor. Through the Black Worker, Randolph inculcated the porters with such middle-class values as abstaining from alcohol, owning their own homes, and sending their children to college as well as the necessity of supporting his civil rights activities.

By organizing and winning recognition for the BSCP, Randolph developed a loyal following. Known among African Americans as “Mr. Black Labor” and “St. Philip of the Pullman Porters,” Randolph also achieved recognition in the white press and became a prominent African-American spokesman in the public arena. He was appointed a member of the New York City Commission on Race, for example, and, in 1935, president of the National Negro Congress (NNC), an umbrella organization to help African Americans cope with the economic distress of the depression. The NNC unfortunately was soon rent by factional infighting, and Randolph resigned in 1940, charging the organization with Communist domination.

By the 1940s, defense preparations were pulling the country out of the depression, but blacks, denied defense jobs because of racial discrimination, remained on the relief rolls in inordinate numbers. When the Roosevelt administration proved impervious to their entreaties, Randolph, influenced by the sit-down techniques of the labor movement and Gandhian nonviolent tactics, conceived the idea of a march of African Americans on Washington to demand jobs and an end to segregation in the military. Fearing a black invasion of segregated Washington and realizing that without some tangible concessions he could not persuade Randolph to call off the march, the president issued Executive Order #8802 creating a temporary wartime Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC). Although the order did not include military integration, Randolph agreed to call off the march primarily because he was uncertain how many would actually march. Nevertheless, elated at the success of his strategy of mass nonviolent civil disobedience, Randolph decided to keep his organization, the March On Washington Movement (MOWM), intact to continue the fight for civil rights. The MOWM mounted a series of spectacular rallies in major cities in the summer of 1942 demanding racial equality.

Randolph declined a position on the FEPC and, in 1944, also refused to run for Congress. He chose instead to work for permanent fair employment practices legislation and to this end founded the National Council for a Permanent FEPC. Unlike the racially exclusive MOWM, the National Council was an integrated organization. It brought Randolph further notoriety but failed to achieve its legislative objectives.

When the Cold War caused President Harry S. Truman to ask Congress for a peacetime draft law, Randolph refocused his attention on integration of the military. He counseled young African-American men to refuse to register and be drafted into a segregated military establishment. In July 1948 the politically vulnerable Truman, needing the black vote for his close reelection race, capitulated to Randolph’s nonviolent civil disobedience campaign and issued Executive Order #9981 integrating the United States military. Under continual pressure from Randolph’s Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training, the military went from the most segregated to the most successfully integrated institution in the nation, demonstrating once again the effectiveness of nonviolent civil disobedience.

Randolph’s philosophy had a direct influence on the midcentury civil rights movement. After the 1954 Supreme Court school desegregation decision, Brown v. Board of Education, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was organized by porter E. D. Nixon, who had been imbued with Randolph’s nonviolent egalitarian ideas. It was Nixon who tapped Martin Luther King, Jr., for leadership of the boycott. When southern school districts used delaying tactics to avoid implementing the school desegregation decision, Randolph mounted a Prayer Pilgrimage in 1957 that brought King wider media exposure. He then sponsored a pair of Youth Marches for Integrated Schools in 1958 and 1959 in the nation’s capital. Unlike Randolph’s proposed march of 1941, these marches were integrated demonstrations supported by black civil rights groups, white liberals, black and white church groups, and some trade unions. For the day-to-day organizing of the marches, Randolph teamed up with Bayard Rustin, who became his protégé.

Still vacillating between integration and separatism, in 1959, the same year he led the second march for integrated schools, Randolph also launched the all-black Negro American Labor Council (NALC) to fight racism within the labor movement. When the AFL merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in 1955, Randolph became one of the federation’s two African-American vice presidents. Largely through his efforts, the combined federation committed itself to a policy of backing racial integration with financial contributions. Randolph, however, had always been ambivalent about accepting white assistance, arguing that “where you get your money you also get your ideas and control.” He soon concluded that financial support alone was insufficient; the AFL-CIO was not doing enough to cleanse itself of racial discrimination. George Meany, then head of the AFL-CIO, remained unsympathetic, however, demanding of Randolph, “Who the hell appointed you as the guardian of all the Negroes in America?” Both because young African-American unionists did not think that the NALC was militant enough and because Meany resented the organization as a separatist movement, it never had the impact on federation racial practices that Randolph had projected for it.

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To counter the lack of African-American economic progress, in his capacity as head of the NALC, Randolph proposed a March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The march came after the nonviolent sit-in movement, under the leadership of the Congress of Racial Equality and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, had spread across the South. At the same time, some blacks, especially youths outside of the movement, began responding to police brutality with violence, igniting demonstrations across the country and provoking white counterviolence. The older race betterment organizations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League, also found themselves contending for prestige and financial contributions with more activist groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Congress of Racial Equality. Nevertheless, all the groups worked together for the March on Washington. The integrated march, coordinated by Bayard Rustin, was far less militant than Randolph’s original 1941 conception. Still, the 250,000 marchers, about a third of whom were white, proved the efficacy of Randolph’s coalition approach. Although marred for Randolph by the death of his wife three months earlier, the march marked a high point of the civil rights movement. It did not, however, produce any immediate, tangible achievements, and the coalition quickly dissolved amid struggles over Black Power and racial separatism.

Randolph earned the wrath of more militant African-American groups when he signed the Moratorium on Demonstrations, the purpose of which was to ensure the reelection of Lyndon B. Johnson to the presidency in 1964. During the Freedom Summer of 1964, young people risked their lives in Mississippi to register African Americans to vote and, with local black activists, forged the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party as a challenge to the all-white state delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Further antagonism ensued when Randolph, along with Bayard Rustin, supported Johnson’s compromise of allowing only two delegates from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party to be seated at the convention.

Also in 1964 Randolph founded the A. Philip Randolph Institute to carry on his ideas and methods. The objective of the institute was to promote Randolph’s unique vision by strengthening ties between the labor movement, civil rights groups, and other progressive organizations. Through the institute Randolph announced his Freedom Budget for All Americans in 1965. A kind of domestic Marshall Plan, the budget called for a national expenditure of $18.5 billion a year over a ten-year period to implement its proposed solution to the economic problems of African Americans. The budget was based on the thesis that the only way to abolish poverty was to create full employment. By then, however, the country was deeply involved in the Vietnam War, and neither Congress nor the administration was interested in the wholesale budgetary and social changes that Randolph’s plan would have entailed.

His health failing, in 1968 Randolph retired as president of the BSCP and vice president of the AFL-CIO executive council. In 1978 his beloved union, which had supplied the core constituency for all of his civil rights organizations, was absorbed into the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks. Though they had softened, Randolph’s ideas and his rhetoric had not basically changed over the years. Yet the historical circumstances within which he operated had altered most significantly. The interracial class coalition that he endeavored to put together, along with his support of the Democratic party leadership, and his backing of the teachers’ union in the New York City Teachers’ Strike in 1968, caused black observers of the 1960s and 1970s to perceive Randolph as favoring the interests of organized labor over those of the African-American community. Although held in disdain by Black Power advocates at the time, within a decade of his death Randolph came to be regarded as a legendary African-American leader. His career demonstrated that blacks were not merely acted upon in an oppressive society; to a large extent they determined their own destiny. “Rather we die standing on our feet fighting for our rights than to exist upon our knees begging for life,” Randolph proclaimed. His virulent anticommunism contributed to Randolph’s vacillation between integration and racial exclusivity. Always fearful that the inclusion of whites would bring communist subversion, and wary that the tendency of whites to take over the leadership of interracial organizations retarded the development of black self-esteem, Randolph nevertheless believed in black nationalism merely as a short-term tactic to achieve the long-term goal of integration. He never wavered, however, in his belief that economics held the key to African-American equality.

A man of integrity, Randolph inspired great loyalty among his colleagues, black and white. Unique in that he made his reputation as a labor leader rather than by following the more traditional path to African-American leadership through the clergy, education, or organizational bureaucracy, Randolph attempted to establish a symbiotic relationship between the American labor movement and the cause of civil rights. His most enduring legacy, however, was the influence that his movements, ideology, and tactics had on the younger generation of civil rights leaders. They imbibed Randolph’s strategy of nonviolent, mass civil disobedience and put it into practice.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Inspirational Sips

 

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Daily Inspirational Sip

Biography courtesy of http://www.msm.edu

The life of Vivien Thomas is an inspiring story of an African-American pioneer who overcame the barriers imposed by a segregated society. With no formal medical training, he developed techniques and tools that would lead to today’s modern heart surgery. In operating rooms all over the world, great surgeons who received their training from Vivien Thomas are performing life-saving surgical procedures. We honor his legacy with the naming of the Vivien Thomas High School Research Program at the MSM. The Vivien Thomas Research Program for high school students was established to provide experiences in the research laboratories at the MSM. Students conduct research for six weeks under the direction of a medical school faculty member and learn the content, process and methodology involved in inquiry science. At the end of this summer experience, students present their research findings to the faculty and staff at MSM.

Vivien T. Thomas was born in New Iberia, Louisiana on August 29, 1910. His family later moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was educated in the public schools. In 1929, after working as an orderly in a private infirmary to raise money for college, he enrolled as a premedical student at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College. The bank crash that year wiped out his life’s savings, forcing him to drop out of school.

In 1930, he took a position at Vanderbilt University as a laboratory assistant with Alfred Blalock. Thomas’ abilities as a surgical assistant and research associate were of the highest quality, and when Blalock moved to Johns Hopkins in 1941 he asked Thomas to accompany him. Thomas joined Blalock’s surgical team and helped to develop the procedure used in the “blue baby” operation. He helped train many of the surgeons at Johns Hopkins in the delicate techniques necessary for heart and lung operations.

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Thomas was a member of the medical school faculty from 1976 until 1985 and was presented with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Laws by the Johns Hopkins University in 1976. Today, in operating rooms all over the world, there are great surgeons performing life saving surgical procedures who received their training from Vivien Thomas. His achievements stand as a testament to the power of research, discovery, and persistence to improve the health of generations to come, a legacy we honor with the naming of the Vivien Thomas High Summer Research Program at MSM.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in Inspirational Sips

 

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Daily Inspirational Sip

Biography courtesy of notablebiographies.com

Paul Robeson was an African American singer, actor, and political activist. He crusaded for equality and justice for African Americans.

Early life and distinguished scholar

Paul Leroy Robeson was born the last of eight children in the Robeson family, on April 9, 1898, in Princeton, New Jersey. His father, William Drew Robeson, was a runaway slave who fought for the North in the Civil War (1861–65), when Northern forces clashed with those of the South over secession, or the South’s desire to leave the Union. His father put himself through Lincoln University, received a degree in divinity, and was pastor at a Presbyterian church in Princeton. Paul’s mother, Anna Louisa Robeson, was a member of the distinguished Bustill family of Philadelphia, which included patriots in the Revolutionary War (1775–83), when the American colonies fought for independence from Great Britain. She also helped found the Free African Society, and maintained agents in the Underground Railroad, a secret system to help runaway slaves.

Paul’s mother died when he was six and his father moved the remaining family to Sommerville, New Jersey. There, young Paul spent his childhood under his father’s influence, regularly working with him after school and also singing in his father’s church. From his father Robeson learned to work hard, pursue valuable goals, fight for his beliefs, and to help his people’s cause.

At seventeen Robeson won a scholarship to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Although he was only the third African American student in the school’s history, Robeson was immensely popular and was considered an athlete “without equal.” He won an amazing twelve major letters (varsity spots on sports teams) in four years. His academic record was also brilliant. He won first prize (for four consecutive years) in every speaking competition the at the college for which he was eligible, and he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, a scholarship honor society. In addition, he engaged in social work in the local black community and delivered his senior class graduation speech. Rutgers subsequently honored him as the “perfect type of college man.”

Turns to entertainment

Robeson graduated from the Columbia University Law School in 1923 and took a job with a New York City law firm. In 1921 he married Eslanda Goode Cardozo; they had one child. Robeson’s career as a lawyer ended abruptly when others within the firm turned on him because he was African American. He then turned to acting as a career, playing the lead in All God’s Chillun Got Wings (1924) and The Emperor Jones (1925). He added to his acting by singing spirituals. He was the first to give an entire program of exclusively African American songs in concert, and he was one of the most popular concert singers of his time.

Robeson starred in such stage presentations as Show Boat (1928), Othello, in London, England (1930), Toussaint L’Ouverture (1934), and Stevedore (1935). His Othello (1943–44) ran for 296 performances—a remarkable run for a Shakespearean play on Broadway. While playing opposite white actress Mary Ure, he became the first black actor ever to do the role in England’s Shakespeare Memorial Theater.

Robeson’s most significant films were Emperor Jones (1933), Show Boat, Song of Freedom (both 1936), and Proud Valley (1939). Charles Gilpin and Robeson, as the first African American men to play serious roles on the American stage, opened up this aspect of the theater for African Americans. Robeson used his talents not only to entertain but to gain appreciation for the cultural differences among men.

International affairs

During the 1930s Robeson entertained throughout Europe and the United States. In 1934 he made the first of several trips to the Soviet Union. He spoke out against the Nazis, Adolf Hitler’s (1889–1945) radical German army, and sang to Loyalist troops during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), when battles erupted between Spain’s traditionalists and reigning Second Spanish Republic. In addition he raised money to fight the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, supported the Committee to Aid China, and became chairman of the Council on African Affairs (which he helped establish in 1937). A spokesman for cultural black nationalism (a radical movement that called for African Americans to set up their own self-governing nation), Robeson also continued to fight racial discrimination (forced separation people based on race). During World War II (1939–45), when the Allies—the United States, England, France, and the Soviet Union—battled German-led Axis forces, he supported the American effort by entertaining soldiers in camps and laborers in war industries.

After the war, Robeson worked full-time campaigning for the rights of African Americans around the world. In a period of great paranoia within the nation, the American government and many citizens felt threatened by Robeson’s crusade for peace and on behalf of minorities. The fact that for over fifteen years he was America’s most popular African American did not prevent Robeson from being banned from American concert and meeting halls and being denied a passport to travel overseas.

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Awards and legacy

During the 1950s Robeson performed in black churches and for trade unions. After eight years of denial, he won his passport, gave a concert in Carnegie Hall, and published Here I Stand in 1958. He went abroad on concert, television, and theater engagements. He received numerous honors and awards: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Spingarn Medal, several honorary degrees from colleges, the Diction Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, numerous awards from labor unions and civic organizations, and the Stalin Peace Prize.

Robeson had used an “unshakable dignity and courage” learned from his father to break stereotypes (generalizations of a person or group) and limitations throughout his life. He added fifteen spoken languages, a law degree, an international career as singer and actor, and civil rights activist to his long list of accomplishments in his effort to be “the leader of the black race in America.”

Robeson returned to America in 1963 in poor health and soon retired from public life. Slowly deteriorating and living in seclusion, Robeson died on January 23, 1976, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after suffering a stroke.

Honored after death

It took Robeson seventy-seven years to win the respect of the college sports world. During his outstanding, four-year football career at Rutgers University, Robeson was named All-American in 1917 and 1918, the first African American to do so. In 1995, after his race and politics no longer took away from his legacy and the awards were based more on accomplishments, he was inducted posthumously (after his death) into the College Football Hall of Fame at the new fourteen million dollar museum’s grand opening in South Bend, Indiana. Sports Illustrated called it a “long-overdue step toward atonement [setting things right].”

In an article in Jet magazine, Robeson’s son, Paul Jr., who accepted the honor, talked about his father’s influence on African American men and his dedication to causes. “He felt it was a job he had to do for his people and the world as a whole,” said the younger Robeson. His songs, such as his trademark Ol’ Man River, and acting have remained available in videos and new releases of his vintage recordings. Read more: http://www.notablebiographies.com/Pu-Ro/Robeson-Paul.html#ixzz3Sdhe8LGr

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Inspirational Sips

 

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Daily Inspirational Sip

Daily Inspirational Sip

Ira Frederick Aldridge was the first African American actor to achieve success on the international stage. He also pushed social boundaries by playing opposite white actresses in England and becoming known as the preeminent Shakespearean actor and tragedian of the 19th Century.

Ira Frederick Aldridge was born in New York City, New York on July 24, 1807 to free blacks Reverend Daniel and Lurona Aldridge.  Although his parents encouraged him to become a pastor, he studied classical education at the African Free School in New York where he was first exposed to the performance arts.  While there he became impressed with acting and by age 15 was associating with professional black actors in the city. They encouraged Aldridge to join the prestigious African Grove Theatre, an all-black theatre troupe founded by William Henry Brown and James Hewlett in 1821. He apprenticed under Hewlett, the first African American Shakespearean actor. Though Aldridge was gainfully employed as an actor in the 1820s, he felt that the United States was not a hospitable place for theatrical performers.  Many whites resented the claim to cultural equality that they saw in black performances of Shakespeare and other white-authored texts. Realizing this, Aldridge emigrated to Europe in 1824 as the valet for British-American actor James William Wallack.

Aldridge eventually moved to Glasgow, Scotland and began studies at the University of Glasgow, where he enhanced his voice and dramatic skills in theatre. He moved to England and made his debut in London in 1825 as Othello at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden, a role he would remain associated with until his death. The critic reviews gave Aldridge the name Roscius (the celebrated Roman actor of tragedy and comedy). Aldridge embraced it and began using the stage name “The African Roscius.” He even created the myth that he was the descendant of a Senegalese Prince whose family was forced to escape to the United States to save their lives. This deception erased Aldridge’s American upbringing and cast him as an exotic and almost magical being.

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Throughout the mid-1820s to 1860 Ira Aldridge slowly forged a remarkable career. He performed in London, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Bath, and Bristol in King Lear, Othello, Macbeth, and The Merchant of Venice. He also freely adapted classical plays, changing characters, eliminating scenes and installing new ones, even from other plays. In 1852 he embarked on a series of continental tours that intermittently would last until the end of his life. He performed his full repertoire in Prussia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, and Poland. Some of the honors he received include the Prussian Gold Medal for Arts and Sciences from King Frederick, the Golden Cross of Leopold from the Czar of Russia, and the Maltese Cross from Berne, Switzerland.

Aldridge died on August 7, 1867 while on tour in Lodz, Poland. He was 60 at the time of his death.  Aldridge had been married twice and left behind several children including a daughter named Luranah who would, in her own right, go on to become a well-known actress and opera singer. There is a memorial plaque at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, in honor of his contributions to the performing arts. – See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/aldridge-ira-1807-1867#sthash.hxOfn28x.dpuf

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Inspirational Sips

 

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Daily Inspirational Sip

Daily Inspirational Sip

Biography courtesy of lva.virginia.gov

The year 2012 marks the bicentennial of John Jasper (July 4, 1812–March 30, 1901), who was born into slavery in Fluvanna County. After being sent to Richmond to work in a tobacco factory, in 1839 he experienced a religious conversion in Capitol Square. A fellow slave helped him learn to read and write, and Jasper began studying the Bible. He soon became a well-known preacher and traveled around Virginia for twenty years, most often preaching funeral sermons for other slaves. He regularly traveled to Petersburg to lead services at Third Baptist Church.

After the Civil War and emancipation, Jasper established Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, in Richmond. His dynamic leadership had attracted about 2,500 members by 1887, and the church served as a center of religious life in the Jackson Ward neighborhood. He established a Sunday school, and the church also provided social services to help the indigent, young, old, and infirm.

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In 1878 Jasper first delivered the sermon for which he became most famous, “The Sun Do Move,” in which he expounded on his belief in the fundamental truth of the Bible and the power of God. His dramatic speaking style and vivid imagery attracted national attention, and he gave his sermon in cities throughout the eastern United States for many years. Jasper continued to preach at his church until a few days before his death at age eighty-eight.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Inspirational Sips

 

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