Black History Month: February 2023
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
Viola Davis is an American actress and producer. Davis is now one of few performers to have been awarded an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony (EGOT). She is the sole African-American to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting, as well as only the third person to achieve both statuses. Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012 and 2017, and in 2020, The New York Times ranked her ninth on its list of the greatest actors of the 21st century. She is known for her Oscar winning role in Fences, The Help, Doubt and her Emmy winning role in How To Get Away With Murder. As of 2023, Viola Davis is worth $25 million.
VIOLA DAVIS TRIVIA:
- Viola Davis was born on August 11, 1965, in St. Matthews, South Carolina, to Mae Alice Davis and Dan Davis. She was born on her grandmother's farm on the Singleton Plantation.
- Dan was a horse-groomer for the Narragansett and Lincoln Downs racetracks in Rhode Island.
- Grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Her family moved there when she was 2-months old
- Attended and graduated from Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island (1988), where she majored in theater. She later received an honorary degree in Fine Arts from the college (2002).
- After her graduation from Rhode Island College, she attended the Juilliard School in New York City for four years, and was a member of the school Drama Division “Group 22” (1989-1993).
- Won Broadway's 2001 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role – Play) for August Wilson's “King Hedley II”. She had previously been nominated in the same category in 1996 for another Wilson play, “Seven Guitars”.
- Won the 2005 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for “Intimate Apparel” (2004).
- Inducted into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) on June 30th, 2009.
- Has an adoptive daughter: Genesis Tennon (b. July 10, 2010) with husband, Julius Tennon.
- In 2012, Davis told Entertainment Weekly that she and her husband stayed at George Clooney's Italian estate on Lake Como for their honeymoon.
- Is one of 10 African-American actresses to be Oscar-nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role. The others in chronological order are Dorothy Dandridge, Diana Ross, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Gabourey Sidibe and Quvenzhané Wallis.
- Is one of two African-American actresses (the other being Whoopi Goldberg) to be nominated for an Academy Award in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories.
- Returned to work 4 months after adopting her daughter Genesis to begin filming Ender's Game (2013).
- Named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World (2012).
- Named Glamour magazine's Film Actress of the Year (2012).
- Won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in “Fences” (2010).
- As of 2017, has appeared in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Traffic (2000), Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011), The Help (2011) and Fences (2016).
- Is the first black actress to receive an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for How to Get Away with Murder (2014).
- Shared the cover of Vanity Fair magazine's 2016 Hollywood issue with, Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlotte Rampling, Rachel Weisz, Lupita Nyong'o, Brie Larson, Alicia Vikander, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Helen Mirren, Diane Keaton and Saoirse Ronan. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz.
- Is one of five actresses to receive an Oscar nomination for a performance with less than 10 minutes of screen time.
- She was nominated for the 1996 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for “Seven Guitars” on Broadway in New York City.
- She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California on January 5, 2017.
- She was the first black woman to receive three Academy Award nominations.
- Is one of seven African-American actresses to have won an acting Oscar in a competitive category. The others in chronological order are Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind (1939), Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost (1990), Halle Berry for Monster's Ball (2001), Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls (2006), Mo'Nique for Precious (2009) and Octavia Spencer for The Help (2011).
- “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” — During her speech at 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
- “The one thing I feel is lacking in Hollywood today is an understanding of the beauty, the power, the sexuality, the uniqueness, the humor of being a regular Black woman.” —in the October 2013 issue of Essence
- “As Black women, we're always given these seemingly devastating experiences—experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as Black women is take the worst situations and create from that point.” —in the August 2011 issue of Essence
- “I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
Viola Davis on what the Academy Award nomination means to her:
- “To me, this is just a great culmination of a dream of a young girl who grew up poor in Central Falls, Rhode Island, and dreamed the biggest dream and didn't know if she was gonna see it to fruition, and now here I am. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment.”
In 2015, Viola Davis accepts the Emmy Award for Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
- “In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful, white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can't seem to get there no how. I can't seem to get over that line. That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800's. And let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So, here's to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rimes, people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black. And to the Taraji P Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Megan Goods, to Gabrielle Union, thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you to the Television Academy. Thank you.” (1:42 OC: . . .Academy. Thank you.)
In 2015, Regina King speaks on Viola Davis' History-Making Win: 2015
- “I say, I wanna curse right now. What I really wanna say is another word for 'Heck yeah!' Man, that's pretty awesome. Her performance was just jaw-dropping to me. I watched her and it felt like I was watching an actor's clinic. It was just truly special and moving.”
In 2015, Viola Davis speaks on Making History and What Comes Next:
- “You know I keep saying the same quote over and over cause it hit me so hard. It's that “stories never end.” My story doesn't end here. Yeah, it feels fantastic but my husband and I started a production company. I just think that there is so much work that needs to be done in so many areas of the business with actors of color. So many narratives that need to be seen by people. So many stories that need to be kind of seen and felt that I know that it doesn't end here.”
During an appearance on Ellen in 2014, Viola revealed why she took off her wig and makeup on How To Get Away With Murder:
- “I was so adamant about it I said, “Listen, she can't go to bed with a wig on, she cannot be in that bedroom with her wig on, 'cause women don't go to bed with their wigs on,' and I said 'A whole portion of women out there are marginalized. I want to be a real woman, let's go for it, I'm a character actress.”
(Source: Wikipedia, IMDB, Elle)
TODAY IN BLACK HISTORY:
- In 1791, inventor, surveyor, mathmatician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker began to help lay out Washington DC, under the supervision of Mayor Andrew Endicott, IV.
- In 1872, Alcorn A&M College opened.
- In 1883, pianist and composer James Hubert 'Eubie' Blake was born in Baltimore, MD
- In 1926, Carter G. Woodson creates Negro History Week. Three decades later, in 1976, it became Black History Month.
- In 1945, Irwin Molison was appointed judge of the US Customs Court.
- In 1946, Filibuster in U.S. Senate killed FEPC bill.
- In 1956, Autherine Juanita Lucy, the first black student at the University of Alabama, was suspended after a riot at the school.
- In 1974, Grenada gained its independence from Great Britain
- In 1984, Walter Bergman, an 84-year-old Freedom Rider who was beaten by Ku Klux Klansmen at an Alabama bus station in 1961, was awarded a judgement of $50,000 by a U.S. District Court.
- In 1986, Cheikh Anta Diop, Egyptologist and author Civilization or Barbarism and the General History of Africa died. Diop proved Egyptians were black and their culture predated and directly influenced Greek and Roman culture.
- In 2013, Dr. Ben Carson became a nationally recognized political figure when he gave a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. that was critical of President Obama‘s policies and particularly Obamacare when the President and First Lady Michelle Obama were seated just a few feet away. The speech launched Carson’s political career and resulted in him becoming a major conservative candidate for the Republican Presidential Nomination in 2016.
- In 2016, Beyonce performed her new song “Formation” during Coldplay's halftime show for Super Bowl 50.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH QUESTION OF THE DAY:
African-American political scientist Ralph Bunche won the 1950 Nobel Prize for which achievement?
A) He mediated the Arab-Israeli truce in 1948.
B) He worked to integrate the U.S. armed forces during World War II.
C) He organized relief efforts to help victims of famines in eastern Africa.
- The answer is A: He mediated the Arab-Israeli trice in 1948. Bunche was the first African-American to be awarded a Nobel prize.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH FACT OF THE DAY:
Politician, educator and Brooklyn native Shirley Chisholm survived three assassination attempts during her campaign for the 1972 Democratic nomination to the U.S. presidency.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT: BOB JOHNSON
Bob Johnson, born Robert L. Johnson is the founder of Black Entertainment Television. Johnson launched BET in 1980. In 1991, BET became the first black controlled company listed on The New York Stock Exchange. The network now reaches more than 85 million homes and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
- In 2001, Bob Johnson and his partners sold BET to Viacom for a reported $3 billion– a move that made him become the first African American billionaire and the first black person to be listed on any Forbes world's richest list.
- He remained the chief executive of BET until 2005.