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 MUHAMMAD ALI
Boxer Born: Cassius Clay, January 17, 1942 Louisville, Kentucky, USA Height 6' 3″ (1.91 m) Nicknames: “The Louisville Lip” and “The Greatest” Trademark phrase: “Floats Like A Butterfly and Stings Like a Bee” Died: June 3, 2016 Scottsdale, AZ
One of the most celebrated and controversial figures ever to emerge from the boxing ring, Muhammad Ali became known for his flamboyant style and outspoken views on social issues that earned him a position of influence in American history that extended far beyond athletics. In 1967, he refused induction into the armed services, becoming a symbol of resistance to the Vietnam War. The boxing establishment stripped Ali of his title and prevented him from fighting, until the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 upheld his draft appeal on religious grounds. Even though he retired in 1981, his fights with Joe Frazier and George Foreman remain as the most memorable events in boxing.
1960 Olympic light heavyweight champion; three-time world heavyweight champ (1964-67, 1974-78,1978-79); defeated Sonny Liston (1964), George Foreman (1974) and Leon Spinks (1978) for title; fought Joe Frazier in three memorable bouts (1971-75), winning twice; adopted Black Muslim faith in 1964 and changed name; stripped of title in 1967 after conviction for refusing induction into U.S. Army; verdict reversed by Supreme Court in 1971; career record of 56-5 with 37 KOs and 19 successful title defenses; lit the flaming cauldron to signal the beginning of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. (Source: Infoplease.com)
MUHAMMAD ALI TRIVIA:
In retirement, Ali has remained one of the most recognized of all world figures. The 1984 revelation that he suffered from Parkinson's disease renewed debate over the negative effects of boxing. His appearance at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, to light the Olympic flame, moved an international audience. Ali learned early from the outrageous bad-guy wrestler, Gorgeous George, that it could pay to be hated. Ali said “I saw fifteen thousand people coming to see this man get beat, and his talking did it. I said, this is a gooood idea!” Then Ali refined that talking concept to what has been referred to as “The Louisville Lip.” Inducted into the Sport in Society Hall of Fame, 1994. Took an interest in boxing when his bike was stolen by local hoods. His bout with massive underdog Chuck Wepner inspired Sylvester Stallone to create the “Rocky Balboa” for the Rocky movies. Children: Daughters Rasheeda and Jamilla (twins) and Maryum (by Belinda Boyd); Miya, Khalilah, Hana, and Laila (by Veronica Porche). Sons Muhammad, Jr. (by Boyd); Asaad (adopted with Yolanda Williams). The first boxer in history to regain the championship three times by defeating the same boxer he lost the championship to. In order to pay his legal fees (when he was barred from boxing), Ali hit the college lecture circuit and even starred in the Broadway Musical Buck White. In 1962, Ali signed for Selective Service, but he failed the mental aptitude test, and was classified 1-Y (unfit for service). But, when the US armed forces required more soldiers for the Vietnam War, the pass-percentage marks for the tests were dropped to 15, meaning that Ali (and thousands of other men) was re-classified 1-A, now fit for service. Contrary to popular belief, Ali was stripped of his boxing license by the State of New York and his title by the World Boxing Association when he converted to Islam. The World Boxing Council, however, recognized him as champ throughout his battle with the U.S. government over his refusal to be inducted into the Army. Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, 1986. Legend has it that Ali threw his 1960 Olympic gold medal into the river, when in reality he simply lost it at some point in time. In 1999, Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC. On July 27th, 2012, Ali was a titular bearer of the Olympic Flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (Source: Imdb.com, Wikipedia.com)
After losing his first fight to Ken Norton, March 31, 1973: “I never thought of losing, but now that it's happened, the only thing is to do it right. That's my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.” “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” “I am an astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own.” “At home I am a nice guy – but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, I've found, don't get very far.” “When you're as great as I am, it's hard to be humble.” “It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.” “Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.” “You can't hit what you can't see; I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee!” After being rejected by the Vietnam draft the first time, because he failed the 'intelligence' portion, Casius said, “I never said I was the smartest, I said I was the greatest.”
GREAT QUOTES IN BLACK HISTORY
“Man, if you gotta ask you'll never know.” – Jazz musician Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong (1900-1971) when asked what jazz is. “Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.” – Tennis player Arthur Ashe (1943-1993). “People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.” – Author James Baldwin (1924-1987) in the 1961 book Nobody Knows My Name. “If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything… that smacks of discrimination or slander.” – Educator Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) “You're either part of the solution or part of the problem.” – Former Blank Panther (Leroy) Eldridge Cleaver (1935-1998) speech given in San Francisco in 1968. (source: infoplease.com)
TODAY IN BLACK HISTORY:
In 1804, The New Jersey Legislature approved a law calling for “gradual” emancipation of African-Americans. In so doing, New Jersey became the last Northern state to outlaw slavery. In 1848, Sarah Roberts was barred from a white school in Boston. Her father, Benjamin Roberts, filed the first school integration suit on her behalf. In 1851, Black abolitionists invaded a Boston courtroom and rescued a fugitive slave. In 1961, U.S. and African nationalists disrupted U.N. sessions as a protest against the slaying of the Congo's first Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba. In 1968, Henry Lewis became the first African-American to lead a symphony orchestra in the United States.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH QUESTION OF THE DAY:
Marian Wright Edelman, a successful lawyer and activist, established which organization in 1973?
A. Children's Defense Fund B. Operation PUSH C. Habitat for Humanity
The answer is A: Children's Defense Fund.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH FACT OF THE DAY
In 1960, four black students in Greensboro, North Carolina, begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter (Feb. 1st). Six months later the “Greensboro Four” are served lunch at the same Woolworth's counter. The event triggers many similar nonviolent protests throughout the South.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT: DAMON WILLIAMS
Damon Williams is a teen investor who is on his way to become a millionaire. The 16-year-old from Chicago has mastered the art of investing in the stock market and have earned a sizeable profit. In 2009, he was worth over $50,000.
Williams was first motivated to become a young investor after his mom Alicia Williams turned down his request to get a pair of the latest Jordan sneakers on the market. Instead, she made him save his money to buy several shares of Nike before he could by another pair of shoes.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH EXTRA Muhammad Ali – “I'll Show You How Great I Am” Speech