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Black Facts for February 3rd

1936 - Henderson, George Washington (c. 1850-1936)

Born a slave in Clark County, Virginia, George Washington Henderson graduated from the University of Vermont in 1877 and became the first African American to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa (PBK), the highest academic honor society. He later received a bachelor’s degree in divinity from Yale University, spending a career in academics and theology.

George Washington Henderson was illiterate when he arrived as a teen in northwestern Vermont at the end of the Civil War, perhaps working as the servant of a Vermont resident he met during the war. Henderson spent the next eight years in tutoring at the Underhill Academy and was admitted into the University of Vermont in 1873.

While in school he worked as a farmhand in Waitsfield during the summers and from 1875-1876 served as principal of nearby Jericho Academy. In 1877 he graduated from the University of Vermont first in his class and was inducted into the school’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Henderson was the first black to be inducted into the society but was not the first black to be elected to join. Yale graduate Edward Alexander Bouchet (1852-1918) was elected into the society in 1874, but his induction was delayed while the Yale PBK chapter was inactive.

Henderson then earned a master’s of arts degree from the University of Vermont, a bachelor’s degree of divinity from Yale University, and further studied at the University of Berlin in Germany under a Hooker-Dwight fellowship. Henderson also served as principal of the Craftsbury Academy and Newport Graded School, both in Vermont.

In 1888 Henderson moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where he was ordained as a Congregational minister and was selected to be pastor of the Central Congregational Church. Two years later he became chair of the theology department at Straight University (now Dillard). In 1904 he moved again to become dean of theology at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He stayed there for five years before moving to Xenia, Ohio as professor of Latin, Greek, and ancient literature at Wilberforce

1957 - Townsend, Willard S. (1895-1957)

African American labor leader Willard S. Townsend was born on December 4, 1895, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Willard and Cora Elizabeth Townsend. In 1938 he organized railway workers of several Chicago, Illinois stations to form the International Brotherhood of Redcaps and remained the union’s president for the rest of his life.

Townsend’s father Willard was a contractor, and he married his cousin, Cora. Townsend worked at the Cincinnati rail station from 1912 to 1914, after he graduated from the local high school. Two years later, he joined the army and served in France during World War I as a lieutenant. When he came home from the war, Townsend helped form an all-black company of the Ohio National Guard. He shortly after entered the Illinois School of Chiropody in Chicago, transferred to the University of Toronto’s premedical program in Ontario, Canada, then graduated with a degree in chemistry from the Royal College of Science in Toronto, in 1924. Townsend moved back to Chicago in 1929 and married Consuelo Mann in 1930.

Townsend worked as a redcap (a baggage porter at railway stations) after high school and during college. When he returned to the job in 1932 during the Great Depression, the low wages, antipathy from white railroad workers, and lack of employee representation inspired Townsend to form a union for his occupation. He was motivated by the example of A. Philip Randolph’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), which had successfully formed despite a hostile white workforce. The BSCP encouraged and helped Townsend in his campaign, although the two unions would later compete for the same workers.

After a series of meetings with workers from five Chicago stations starting in 1936, the International Brotherhood of Redcaps was formed in 1938. In 1940 the union was renamed the United Transport Service Employees (UTSE) union, after inviting Pullman laundry workers and porters to join. Townsend fought to have redcaps recognized as employees of the railway, not independent contractors. White workers who

2011 - Édouard Glissant

Édouard Glissant , (born September 21, 1928, Le Lamentin, Martinique—died February 3, 2011, Paris, France), French-speaking West Indian poet and novelist who belonged to the literary Africanism movement.

Glissant was a disciple and fellow countryman of the poet Aimé Césaire, who founded the Negritude movement to promote an African culture free of all colonial influences. Glissant recorded the awakening of colonized peoples in his verse collection Un Champ d’îles (1953; “An Expanse of Islands”) and in his epic poem Les Indes (1956; The Indies in bilingual edition). His novel La Lézarde (1958; “The Crack”; Eng. trans. The Ripening) won him France’s Prix Théophraste Renaudot (1958), an important annual award bestowed upon a novel. In Le Quatrième Siècle (1964; “The Fourth Century”), he retraced the history of slavery in Martinique and the rise of a generation of young West Indians, trained in European universities, who would reclaim their land. The narrative structure of his novel Malemort (1975) interweaves the colonial history of Martinique with an examination of contemporary experience, a technique he used again in La Case du commandeur (1981; “The Commander’s Cabin”). Glissant’s other verse collections include Boises (1977; “Woods”) and Pays rêvé, pays réel (1985; “Countries Dreamed, Countries Real”). The collection of poems Le Sel noir (1960) was published in English translation as Black Salt: Poems. Glissant’s play Monsieur Toussaint (published 1961) is about the Haitian hero Toussaint-Louverture. His book about William Faulkner, Faulkner, Mississippi (1996), appeared in English translation under the same title.

1846 - King, Horace (1807-1885)

Horace King, born a slave on September 8, 1807 in Chesterfield District, South Carolina, was a successful bridge architect and builder in West Georgia, Northern Alabama and northeast Georgia in the period between the 1830s and 1870s.   King worked for his master, John Godwin who owned a successful construction business.  Although King was a slave, Godwin treated him as a valued employee and eventually gave him considerable influence over his business.  Horace King supervised many of Godwins business activities including the management of construction sites. In 1832, for example, King led a construction crew in building Moore’s Bridge, the first bridge crossing the lower Chattahoochee River in northwest Georgia.  Later in the decade, Godwin and King constructed some of the largest bridges in Georgia, Alabama, and Northeastern Mississippi.  By the 1840s King designed and supervised construction of major bridges at Wetumpka, Alabama and Columbus, Mississippi without Godwins supervision.  Godwin issued five year warranties on his bridges because of his confidence in King’s high quality work.

In 1839, Horace King married Frances Thomas, a free African American woman.  The couple had had four boys and one girl. The King children eventually joined their father at working on various construction projects.  In addition to building bridges, King constructed homes and government buildings for Godwins construction company.  In 1841, King supervised the construction of the Russell County Courthouse in Alabama.  Despite the success of the company in attracting work, Godwin nonetheless fell into debt.  King was emancipated by Godwin on February 3, 1846 to avoid his seizure by creditors.  King continued to work for Godwins construction company and when his former owner died in 1859, King assumed controlled of Godwin’s business.  

During the Civil War, King continued to work on construction projects usually for the Confederacy including a building for the Confederate navy near Columbus, Georgia.  Confederate officials also

2013 - Destiny’s Child

Best Known As:

R&B singers of the hit Say My Name

The music group Destinys Child was formed in 1990 as a novelty group of pre-teen girls; by decades end they had become a superstar female R&B vocal quartet. They later became a trio featuring Kelly Rowland (b. 11 February 1981), her cousin Beyoncé Knowles (b. 4 September 1981) and newcomer Michelle Williams (b. 23 July 1980). (Two earlier members of Destinys Child, LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett, left the group in 2000 and later formed their own band, Angel.) The groups top singles include 1997s No, No, No, 1999s Bills, Bills, Bills and the 2000 hit Say My Name and their albums include Destinys Child (1997), The Writings On the Wall (1999), Survivor (2001), Desinty Fulfilled (2004) and the compilation album #1 (2005). After a 2002 tour the group split up, at least temporarily, to pursue individual projects. They reunited in 2004, but announced that their 2005 world tour was their last and that they would leave Destinys Child on a high note and no longer perform together as a group. Beyoncé went on to a major solo career and later married rap impresario Jay-Z. Destinys Child did reunite for a few songs on February 3, 2013, during Beyoncés halftime show at Super Bowl XLVII.

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1999 - Cyber-Youth Network Launch

On Wednesday, February 3rd, for the first time in history, Americas urban students will have a Web site specifically designed to address their educational needs and interests. The site -- called the Cyber-Youth Network -- provides a model for online education by offering students and teachers culturally relevant material that is both educational and entertaining. With help from organizations like founding sponsor DaimlerChrysler Corp., thelaunch of the program will showcase students from Washington, DCs Eastern andBallou Senior High Schools who, using the Cyber-Youth Network, will trace theirancestors through the African-American Civil War Memorial online database, access sites about Black History Month and participate in a live video conference with African-American role models. The project is conducted in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with plans to expand the program to other urban school systems within HUDs existing nine Enterprise Zone Communities over the next year. The launch of the Cyber-Youth Network will coincide with the first week of BlackHistory Month. WHAT: The Cyber-Youth Network will launch the nations first fully interactive Internet Web site specifically designed for urban students, teachers and parents in recognition of Black History Month. More than 15 students will demonstrate the Networks capabilities. CONTACT: Ann Liston or Carmelita Chavez, 202-338-8700 or 1-800-SKY-PAGE, pin #801-9901, both for Cyber-Youth Network. SOURCE Cyber-Youth Network