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
The writer, director and producer made history at age 24 by becoming the youngest and first African-American to be nominated for Best Director at the Oscars for Boyz N the Hood, which according to Rap-Up, was based on his experiences growing up in South Central Los Angeles.
In addition to Boyz N the Hood, Singleton’s work, which spanned genres and generations, included a remake of Shaft, historical films such as Rosewood, action films such as 2 Fast 2 Furious, and films that questioned the meaning of American masculinity such as Baby Boy and Four Brothers. He also worked with TV and streaming platforms as a director on hits like Billions, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and Empire.
He is often celebrated for having the foresight to bring mega-talents like Tupac Shakur, Regina King, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Ice Cube, Tyrese and Taraji P. Henson to the attention of the wider public. Henson and Tyrese were among the celebrities who visited Singleton in the hospital.
Early in his career, he directed the Michael Jackson music video for “Remember the Time.”
Boyz N the Hood remains one of the definitive movies of a generation. Boyz N the Hood is currently housed in the Library of Congress.
In 2003, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He died in 2019 after suffering a stroke at age 51.
On taking filmmaking seriously: "I really took filmmaking very seriously… It was an honor and then a crutch also, because at a young age, I was like, I guess I'm a serious filmmaker. I never set out to be a serious filmmaker. I just set out to make movies."
On having fun: "I try to keep focused on the things that really make me happy and just do those same things."
On being honest: "Because, if I'm honest, people in the white world might be appalled, but in the black world, they're making myths out of me. And I know that ain't the life."
On being a teacher: "It's cool for me because I'm a director, but I'm also a teacher. I'm a lover of cinema, and I love working with people who are hungry and have the energy to really do better work."
TODAY IN BLACK HISTORY:
- In 1704, Elias Neau, a Frenchman, opened school for Blacks in New York City.
- In 1708, Slave revolt, Newton, Long Island (N.Y.). Seven whites killed. Two Black male slaves and an Indian slave were hanged, and a Black woman was burned alive.
- In 1778, Rhode Island General Assembly in precedent-breaking act authorized the enlistment of slaves.
- In 1859, Arkansas legislature required free Blacks to choose between exile and enslavement.
- In 1871, Second Enforcement Act gave federal officers and courts control of registration and voting in congressional elections.
- In 1879, Southern Blacks fled political and economic exploitation in "Exodus of 1879." Exodus continued for several years. One of the major leaders of the Exodus movement was a former slave, Benjamin ("Pap") Singleton.
- In 1942, Race riot took place at the Sojourner Truth Homes in Detroit.
- In 1943, Porgy and Bess opened on Broadway with Anne Brown and Todd Duncan in starring roles.
- In 1984, Michael Jackson won eight Grammy Awards. His album, Thriller, broke all sales records to-date, and remains one of the top-grossing albums of all time.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH QUESTION OF THE DAY
Who was the first African-American female pilot?
Answer: Bessie Coleman
BLACK HISTORY MONTH: SPOTLIGHT ON TOM BRADLEY:
Tom Bradley (1917-1998), the five-term mayor of Los Angeles, and its first African-American mayor, was born to Lee and Crenner Bradley, poor sharecroppers who lived in a log cabin outside Calvert, Texas. His grandfather had been a slave. From Texas, his family moved to Arizona to pick cotton, and then to Los Angeles, in 1924, where Bradley's father found work as a porter for the Santa Fe railroad. His mother worked as a maid. The family grew to five children before the Bradleys were divorced.
Athletics became Tom Bradley's stepping stone to a better life. His stellar record in track and football at Los Angeles Polytechnic High School earned him an athletic scholarship to UCLA, where he became the track team's top quarter-miler. During his junior year he took an exam to join the Los Angeles Police Dept. and placed near the top. He joined the department in 1940; the following year he married Ethel Arnold, whom he first met in church.
In 1940, the LAPD numbered 100 African-Americans among its 4,000 officers, reflecting the racial discrimination that was prevalent in Los Angeles at the time. As an African-American officer, he later told the Los Angeles Times, "you either worked Newton Street Division which has a predominantly black community, or you worked traffic downtown. You could not work with a white officer, and that continued until 1964."
In 1963, in his first run for public office, he won election to the Los Angeles City Council, the first African-American ever to do so. His 10th District was centered in the multi-ethnic Crenshaw area, the majority of whose voters were white. Coalition-building was an early feature of Bradley's political career. As a councilman, he spoke out against racial segregation within the LAPD, as well as the department's handling of the Watts Riots in 1965.
Bradley first ran for Mayor of Los Angeles in 1969, challenging the conservative incumbent Sam Yorty. Bradley finished first in the primary, but lost in the general election after a bitter campaign in which Yorty portrayed him as a black militant and ultra leftist. Undeterred, Bradley opposed Yorty again in 1973, this time successfully, having built a powerful, citywide racial, religious and ethnic coalition. He won re-election an unprecedented four more times before retiring in 1993. He died in September 1998 at the age of 80 following a heart attack.