It’s the first Friday in February. I hope you have all enjoyed the first few days. Also, I had the opportunity to write an article for the Liberty Tribune Newspaper and you can check that out here. Today I am going to focus on a sport that is near and dear to my mother’s heart; auto racing. We are going to take a look at Wendell Oliver Scott.

Wendell Oliver Scott was the first and only black driver to win a NASCAR Winston Cup (then the Grand National) race. The year was 1963. He was the first black driver since Rojo Jack (1923) to earn a national following. Scott began racing at Danville Fairgrounds Speedway in his hometown of Danville, Virginia, and won more than one hundred short-track Sportsman races, as well as several state and track titles. He moved to NASCAR’s premier division in 1961 where he made almost five hundred starts. In the summer of 1964 Scott won a short-track race at Jacksonville, Florida. Injuries in a race at Talladega ended his career in 1973. The 1977 film Greased Lightning, starring Richard Pryor, was based on his life. Scott was subjected to many slashed tires, or not receiving points he should have been awarded. His driving skills eventually led to a degree of recognition. From 1949 until his death in 1990, Scott owned and operated Scott’s Garage, where his skills as an auto mechanic were in great demand. A street in Danville was named for him in 1997. In 1999 he was one of five drivers, and the only black, inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, in Talladega, Alabama.

Carney Smith, Jessie. Black Firsts: Groundbreaking Events in African American History. New York: Fall River Press, 2009.

For more information on Wendell Oliver Scott look here:

Black History Month 2011-Day 3

Hello everyone and welcome to day three! Today we are going to focus on an inventor that created something extremely useful that is still used today.

In 1878, Inventor J.R. Winters patented the first fire escape ladder, on May 7. He improved the wooden ladder in existence at the time and used a metal frame with parallel steps. The escape ladder was attached to the side of buildings and used to enable people to safely escape from fire or other perils.

Carney Smith, Jessie. Black Firsts: Groundbreaking Events in African American History. New York: Fall River Press, 2009.

His original design is pictured below:

It has evolved into permanent fixtures on the side of buildings:

And now it is even available as a portable item:

Black History Month 2011 Day 2

Hello everyone and welcome to day two. Today we will focus on a historical event that was a first in black history.

An Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves

An Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves became effective on January 1, 1808. It was passed in March 1807 and was the first law prohibiting the importation of slaves into the United States. First the Treasury Department, then the Secretary of the Navy, and at times the Secretary of State were responsible for enforcing the law. Although it was poorly enforced, the law helped to end slavery in the United States by prohibiting the transportation of slaves from Africa to the United States and its territories. It prompted some Southern states to pass similar laws, while other states refused to act.

Carney Smith, Jessie. Black Firsts: Groundbreaking Events in African American History. New York: Fall River Press, 2009.

For the complete wording of the Act follow the link below:

Hello everyone and welcome to Black History Month 2011. For those that were part of this last year, welcome back. For the new additions, welcome! You will be receiving a different fact everyday of February.

Before we dive into our first fun fact of the month I’d like to thank a few people that have helped this mini-project of mine develop nicely. First, Dr. Cecelia Robinson, who is a constant support to anyone who knows her; thank you for making me dream big! Second, Ms. Asheley Brown, who has made this stunning header you see above you; love ya girl! Last, Ms. Jessie Carney Smith, who has written an incredible book where I will be getting most of my information this year called “Black Firsts”.

That will be our theme this year, Black Firsts. You will learn about many different people, organizations, and events that were a first in the history of America. Thank you all for participating this year and I hope you enjoy the knowledge!

Today we are starting with an Iowa native. (Sorry, I gotta start with Iowa.) His name is Simon Estes and his contributions are enormous. Estes is a bass baritone and an opera singer who was born in Centerville, IA. He attended the University of Iowa and the Julliard School of Music. He also has an amphitheatre named after him in Des Moines, IA.

His first came in 1978 when he was the first black man to sing at the Bayreuth Festival when he appeared in the title role of Der Fliegende Hollander. In 1966 he also won the first International Tchaikovsky Vocal Competition in Moscow.

Carney Smith, Jessie. Black Firsts: Groundbreaking Events in African American History. New York: Fall River Press, 2009.

For an example of his amazing vocal talents check out the following video below:

For more information on Mr. Estes click on any of the following links:
Simon Estes-Wikipedia
Simon Estes-Wartburg
Simon Estes-Iowa State University
Simon Estes-Autobiography

The things we forget…

This photo was found at a moving sale in North Carolina and it is a reminder that our history affected not only adults, but children as well. This photo, and the others in the album, are sure to start stirring up emotions and research among scholars of slavery and human rights activists as well.

I think that this will develop into a very interesting project if they proceed with the idea of creating a documentary film about the young man named John. The craziest thing is that they also had documentation proving the sale of John for $1,150 dollars.
Please check out the article here.

Temple Grandin – HBO Original Film

So, I had an opportunity to watch the film Temple Grandin over the weekend. You can view the IMDB page or take a look at the HBO page to find out more about the film. If you would like to read more about Temple Grandin herself or please visit her website for Autism.

What do you think about this film? Have you seen it? Do you know about Temple Grandin?

Here are my thoughts on the film:

Temple Grandin is a film full of sensory overload. It is the first time I have ever been able to begin to understand what it must be like to have Autism. A non-autistic person would never be able to fully understand what Autism is like, but this movie gives you a “door” into its world. A beautifully casted film, Temple Grandin follows the life of Temple Grandin up to her debut as a national spokesperson for Autism. The audience sees how she got from point A to point B. With a mother who never gave up on her child, an aunt that let Temple be herself, and a teacher who pushed her limits, Temple was able to grow in a way that few kids like her had the opportunity to do.

Claire Danes, with her soul reaching eyes, portrays Temple in a truly genuine way. Danes seems to grasp the person, not just the illness. She is flawless in the portrayal of Temple; to a point that you seem to forget that she is an actress playing a part. Julia Ormond gives life to the ruthless mother of Temple Grandin, but she also shows you the pain and heartache of watching her child grow up with hardship. Catherine O’Hara takes a beautiful turn as her aunt that gives her wings. O’Hara generally swings for the comedic roles, but does an amazing job in this film. David Strathairn, who consistently makes you believe in whoever he is portraying, makes the audience see this man that provides Temple the keys to success.

Mr. Carlock teaches Temple to see each obstacle as a door that needs to be opened and just walked through. The theme of doors helps Temple in every facet of life; from walking through that door to graduate school or walking through an automatic door that is so terrifying she can only see a guillotine. The doors keep Temple moving. For Temple Grandin, life is told through a series of pictures. This film is a wonderful portrait of the life of Temple Grandin; whether you see her love for only Jello or yogurt, or you see that even though she is Autistic she wants to make a difference in the lives of others. This is truly a story of perseverance that should be seen and heard by all.

What is the right answer here?

Critics of the New York Times Holiday Gift Guide say that their section titled “Of Color/Stylish Gifts” say that it is targeting non-white audiences only. Maybe that is true, but there is also something I find in this article where I think people forget. Most of the time advertising is marketed to the white crowd. As it is in most situations, white people never have to worry about being white. Non-white Americans, however, are reminded everyday how white they are not.

I believe that it is a problem that a section like this has to exist; only because something such as a Holiday Gift Guide should highlight items that are appealing to any and all persons. Since this is not the case, there is a need for the “Of Color/Stylish Gifts” section. Until this country can appeal to every type of person, things like this will always be needed.

Black People Can Marry Each Other…White People Can Marry Each Other…An Interracial Marriage…whoah whoah whoah-slow down buddy

Check this article out here: or here:

A Justice of the Peace in Louisiana refused to marry an interracial couple.

Okay. So, everyone I talk to is like “I can’t believe this is happening now” or “This isn’t the 1960s,” etc.

Now, this is an awful thing that happened. But, but, but…is it really that surprising? Maybe I’m a tad cynical, but I really was not surprised by this at all. Racism still exists in many towns, cities, college campuses, and in our government. Prejudice does as well.

I think the biggest issue here is that he’s done this before and no one has said anything about it before now. This man is not someone who works in the private sector, he works for the state. It is not okay for him to deny to marry someone because of an individual’s chosen mate.

I just wonder how you feel about this. Does it surprise you that this happened? Does it surprise you that it took this long for something to be said about it?

Ludacris giveth, Jordan taketh away

Chris “Ludacris” Bridges has always been one of my favorite rappers. I always thought his music was fun and silly, and then Release Therapy came out and it completely changed my view of this man. This was an album that was not only awesome, but insightful. As Luda started breaking into acting, I only got more intrigued by him. I started doing some research as to how he came up in the rap game and found that he not only wrote and produced his own music, but he released his records through the label he created. He sold his albums out of the trunk of his car around Atlanta for people to get to know him. Impressive. So, all in all I started seeing that Luda was this really great person, as well as a talented rapper and actor.

Why am I telling you this and why should you care?–61993597

Luda has done it again. He created an essay contest, coupled with a local Atlanta dealership, and gave about 20 cars to people who wrote in about their struggles and why they need a new car. This is philanthropy at its finest and I thought you all should know about it.

On the Michael Jordan front…he’s getting put into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Now, why do I say “Jordan taketh away”? Only because he took the opportunity to present this prestigious award away from the many people who helped him along the way. He didn’t pick his UNC coach Dean Smith, or his NBA coach Phil Jackson. He picked a man who was before his time and was someone he never worked with directly. David Thompson. Now, I admit that I didn’t know who this guy was before I read this article, but David Thompson was “Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan.”

You can view the article here:

The reason why I think this is awesome is that Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player of all time, is paying homage to those that came before him. I truly believe that every individual needs to remember and appreciate all those that came before them. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, but it is always important to remember that you couldn’t be where you are today if it wasn’t for the people that lived and breathed before you.

So…thank you Ludacris and thank you Michael Jordan for reminding us about the little ways to make a difference.