Black History Month: February 2022
To recall and celebrate the positive contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week beginning on Feb. 12, 1926. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month.
TODAY'S SPOTLIGHT ON
Berry Gordy founded Motown Records — the most successful black owned music company in the history of the U.S. In 1959, Gordy borrowed $800 from his family to create R&B label Tamla Records — which later merged into Motown Records. He launched the careers of Michael Jackson, The Jackson Five, Diana Ross, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and more. In 1988, Gordy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2013, Gordy's Motown: The Musicaldebuted on Broadway.
- Born on November 28, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan
- Sold Motown Records to MCA for $61 million in 1988.
- Father, with Diana Ross, of Rhonda Ross Kendrick
- Grandfather of Jermaine Jackson II.
- Father of songwriter Stefan Gordy (Redfoo of LMFAO) by producer Nancy Leiviska and is the grand father of Sky Blu of LMFAO
- Father of Rockwell by ex-girlfriend Margaret Norton. Ex-father-in-law of Jermaine Jackson.
- Jobete, the music publishing company that he founded was named after his three oldest children: Hazel JOy, BErry and Terry.
- Has 8 children altogether: Hazel Joy, Berry, Terry, Kerry, Sherry, Kennedy, Rhonda and Stefan.
- Is portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992).
- Wrote the introduction to Michael Jackson's autobiography “Moonwalk”.
- Gordy was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1998.
- Gordy delivered the commencement address at Michigan State University on May 5, 2006 and at Occidental College on May 20, 2007. He received an honorary degree from each school.
- Gordy received the Songwriters Hall of Fame's Pioneer Award on June 13, 2013. He is the first living individual to receive the honor.
BERRY GORDY QUOTES
- On finding talent: “I have this ability to find this hidden talent in people that sometimes even they didn't know they had.”
- On Motown: “Motown was about music for all people – white and black, blue and green, cops and the robbers. I was reluctant to have our music alienate anyone.”
- On being street smart: “Whenever I came up against presidents of other companies, I was always smarter, because I was from the streets.”
- On being yourself: “Don't judge yourself by others' standards … have your own. And don't get caught up into the trap of changing yourself to fit the world. The world has to change to fit you. And if you stick to your principles, values and morals long enough, it will.”
- On being popular: “I'm not looking for popularity — I've never looked for popularity. I'm just looking for happiness and success, and I teach that to other people. Why would I want to be on the front page? To be more popular? That doesn't thrill me. It doesn't mean anything to me. While I'm busy trying to get my picture in the paper, I could be doing something meaningful.”
TODAY IN BLACK HISTORY:
- In 1936, Actor and former football player Jim Brown was born in St. Simons Island, GA.
- In 1938, Dr. Mary Frances Berry was born in Nashville, TN. In 1976, she became the first woman to serve as Chancellor of a large research university.
- In 1942, Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, was born in Monroe, LA
- In 1955, Little Richard sent his first audition tape to Specialty Records
- In 1963, Michael Jordan — arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, was born in Brooklyn, NY
- In 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law a $787 billion Economic Stimulus Package, his first major legislative victory.
- In 2014, MTV declared Beyonce the highest paid black musician of all time.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH QUESTION OF THE DAY:
What do African-American football players Ernie Davis, Archie Griffin and Tony Dorsett have in common?
A) They all played for Pittsburgh.
B) They all won the Heisman Trophy.
C) They all led their teams to Super Bowl titles.
The answer is B: They all won the Heisman Trophy. Ernie Davis was the first African-American to win the prize in 1961, and Archie Griffin is the only player to have won it twice, in 1974 and 1975. Only Dorsett played for Pittsburgh. Davis played for Syracuse and Griffin played for Ohio State. Only Dorsett led his team to a Super Bowl title as NFC Rookie of the Year in 1977-1978.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH FACT OF THE DAY:
- Mass Migration North: During what is known as the Great Migration, African-American fled farms in search of urban jobs. As many as one million African-Americans moved to northern cities between 1915 and 1920 in search of jobs. Nearly another million joined then in the decade that followed. In addition, tens of thousands of blacks went west, especially to California. By 1960, 40 percent of all blacks lived outside the South, while 75 percent of all blacks lived in cities. By transforming their rural southern backgrounds to fit their new urban homes, African-Americans created a new black culture.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT: DON CORNELIUS
Today we honor TV icon Don Cornelius. Don was the creator and host of Soul Train — the long running music show that featured musical guests. He is known as the first African American to create, produce, host and own his own show. Don started the show in 1970 on local Chicago TV and it became syndicated in 1971. The show became the destination for the best and latest in black music, giving many African-American acts exposure that they couldn't get on mainstream shows like American Bandstand. The show was on air for more than 30 years — going off the air in 2006.
- In 2012, Don died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound on this day (February 1st) at his home in California. He was 75.