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Black Facts for November 18th

1956 - Warren Moon

Warren Moon is a retired football player, who played for the Canadian and American football leagues. He was born in Los Angeles, California on November 18, 1956 and was the only brother of 6 sisters. His father was a laborer who died of liver disease when Warren was a young child and his mother was a nurse who had to work single handedly to raise 7 children. Warren was a very supportive son, and helped his mother with the household chores like sewing, cleaning and cooking. He was a keen sportsman in high school but could only limit himself to one sport because he had limited time available to play after school. He attended Alexander Hamilton High School, but had to lie about his address because of the poor reputation of his own neighborhood. Although he was on the school team, he didn’t get much time on the field until his junior year. He was then selected as the varsity starting quarterback, and was named to the all city team.

Moon was selected by many colleges, but most of them wanted him not to play as quarterback so he decided to attend junior college instead of a 4 year college. He attended West Los Angeles College from 1974 to 1975 where he could play the position of quarterback as he chose. After this, he attended the University of Washington where he played for their team called “The Huskies”. Despite a slow start at the new college, he  helped to defeat the Michigan Wolverines in the 1978 Rose Bowl, for which he was named the “Most Valuable Player” (MVP). After graduating from college, Moon was surprisingly short of NFL offers so he chose to join the Canadian Football League (CFL) instead. He joined a team called the Edmonton Eskimos, whom he helped to lead to five consecutive championship victories between 1978 to 1982. He also won the MVP award in 1980 and 1982. His final season in the CFL was 1983, when he was also awarded the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award.

Warren Moon decided to join the NFL that year, with many teams coveting him. He decided to go with the Houston Oilers, where he was

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Spirituality Facts

1942 - Smythe, John Henry (1915-1996)

Jurist and Royal Air Force (RAF) Flight Lieutenant John “Johnny” Henry Smythe was born on June 30, 1915, in the West African port city of Freetown, Sierra Leone. He received a grammar school education and had worked as a civil servant before joining the Sierra Leone Defence Corps (part of the British Colonial Army) in 1939, achieving the rank of Sergeant. Prior to the onset of World II Smythe read Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and believed a horrible scenario of enslavement and extermination awaited peoples of African ancestry should the Nazis prevail. With the backing of the colonial administration he volunteered for service in the RAF. Of a group of 90 he was one of four men to finish basic training to become a navigator, and after a year of additional training was attached to a bomber squadron.

On November 18, 1942, on his twenty-eighth mission over Europe, his bomber was shot down and he was wounded in the groin and abdomen. Enemy troops found him hiding in a barn. Smythe later recalled: “The Germans couldn’t believe their eyes. I’m sure that’s what saved me from being shot immediately. To see a black man -- an officer at that -- was more than they could come to terms with. They just stood there gazing.”

While spending the duration of the war at Stalag Luft I in northern Germany he served on the escape committee to free white POWs. “I don’t think a six-foot-five black man would’ve got very far in Pomerania, somehow,” he said. Liberated by Russian soldiers in 1945 (they embraced him and gave him vodka), he received a hero’s welcome when he returned to Freetown. In the post-war 1940s he worked as a military liaison officer in the Colonial Office; accompanied West Indian former military personnel and others to work in Britain; studied at the Inns of Court School of Law; and served in the RAF Reserve.

In 1951, Smythe became a practicing barrister, married his Grenadian fiancée, Violet Wells Bain in London, and then moved back to Freetown. In 1953 he represented the Sierra Leone Naval Volunteer Force at the

I Am Not Your Negro - Official Trailer

1994 - Cab Calloway

Cab Calloway was an American jazz musician of the 20th century. He was born in Rochester, New York, on December 25, 1907 to Martha Eulalia Reed and Cabell Calloway, Jr., both of whom were college graduates. Martha was a teacher and church organist whereas Cabell was a lawyer and also worked in real estate. The family relocated to Baltimore, Maryland in 1918, to an area known as Sugar Hill, considered to be the economic and cultural centre for affluent blacks at the time. Cab belonged to a comfortably well off middle class family.

He had musical talent, a fact that his parents recognized early on. They enrolled the young Calloway in vocal lessons in order to strengthen his technique. He began to be attracted towards jazz music, a fact that both his parents and teacher disapproved of. His parents wanted him to study law, so he enrolled at Crane College, in order to oblige them. However, his love for jazz was strong and he became a regular at several of the nightclubs in Baltimore. One of his main inspirations was his sister Blanche, who was a famous bandleader and musician herself.

During college, he was more interested in jazz clubs like the Dreamland Ballroom, the Sunset Cafe, and the Club Berlin. Here he met and became an understudy for a singer named Adelaide Hall, and also met the famous jazz musician Louis Armstrong. Armstrong taught Calloway a singing technique known as “scat singing”, a improvised style of jazz singing in which the voice is used in imitation of an instrument. This method of singing became one of Calloway’s signature moves when he became famous.

Calloway then began singing with a band called the Alabamians and around the same time, he left school and moved to New York. In New York, he was a regular at “the Cotton Club”, the most respected jazz club in the country. He also joined and took over a band called “The Missourians” which was later renamed “Cab Calloway and His Orchestra”. The band began performing regularly at the Cotton Club with the likes of Duke Ellington and Mills Blue Rhythm

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