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Black Facts for December 10th

1873 - Lewis Latimer - African American Inventor Biography

Lewis Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1848. He was the son of George and Rebecca Latimer, both of whom were escaped slaves from Virginia.

When Lewis Latimer was a boy, his father George was arrested and tried as a slave fugitive. The judge ordered his return to Virginia and slavery, but money was raised by the local community to pay for his freedom. George later went underground fearing his re-enslavement, a great hardship for the Latimer family.

Lewis Latimer enlisted in the Union Navy at the age of 15 by forging the age on his birth certificate. Upon the completion of his military service, Latimer returned to Boston, Massachusetts where he was employed by the patent solicitors Crosby & Gould.

While working in the office, Latimer began the study of drafting and eventually became their head draftsmen. During his employment with Crosby & Gould, Latimer drafted the patent drawings for Alexander Graham Bell"s patent application for the telephone, spending long nights with the inventor. Bell rushed his patent application to the patent office mere hours ahead of the competition and won the patent rights to the telephone with the help of Latimer.

Hiram S. Maxim was the founder of the U.S. Electric Light Company of Bridgeport, CN, and the inventor of the Maxim machine gun. He hired Latimer as an assistant manager and draftsman.

Latimer"s talent for drafting and his creative genius led him to invent a method of making carbon filaments for the Maxim electric incandescent lamp. In 1881, he supervised the installation of the electric lights in New York, Philadelphia, Montreal and London.

Lewis Latimer was also the original draftsman for inventor Thomas Edison (who he started working for in 1884) and as such was the star witness in Edison"s infringement suits.

Lewis Latimer was the only African-American member of the twenty-four "Edison Principles," the engineering division of the Edison Company. Latimer also co-authored a book on electricity published in 1890 called "Incandescent Electric Lighting: A

2009 - Franklin, Shirley Clarke (1945- )

Shirley Clarke Franklin became Atlanta, Georgia’s first African American female mayor in 2001, as well as the first woman to be a mayor of a major southern city.  Clarke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 10, 1945 to parents Eugene Haywood Clarke and Ruth Lyons Clarke.  She attended public schools in Philadelphia. In 1963 at the age of 18, Clarke participated in the March on Washington where she saw and was inspired by Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King.   

Clarke graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 1968.  She then attended the University of Pennsylvania and earned her master"s degree in 1969.  Clarke married David McCoy Franklin in 1972.  The couple has three adult sons.

After teaching political science at Talladega College in Alabama for nearly a decade, in 1978 Shirley Clarke Franklin was appointed by Mayor Maynard Jackson to the post of Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City of Atlanta.  When Jackson was succeeded by Mayor Andrew Young, she was named Chief Administrative Officer and City Manager.  Franklin gained notoriety as one of the officials who helped bring the Olympic Games to Atlanta in 1992.  

Nine years later, in 2001, Franklin succeeded two term Mayor Bill Campbell. She capitalized on what many city residents felt was City Hall"s inattentiveness to neighborhood concerns and the large deficit in the city"s budget when she challenged Campbell"s protégé, Rob Pitts.  Franklin also emphasized social welfare issues as she attracted support from the city"s women voters.  Franklin won a surprise victory, gaining just over 50% of the vote in a hard fought campaign.

After the election Mayor Franklin focused primarily on paying off the enormous city debt.  In order to fight the deficit, she cut city spending beginning with her own salary and that of her staff.  Despite reducing the deficit she improved city services and hired more police and firefighters.  Time Magazine named Franklin one of the five best big-city mayors in 2005.  


1967 - Otis Redding

Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was an American singer and songwriter who immensely influenced the genre of soul, despite a short lived career due to his untimely death. He was born on September 9, 1941 in Dawson, Georgia to Otis Redding, Sr. and Fannie Redding. The family moved to Macon when Redding was 5 years old. Here he began to sing in the church choir at an early age and also learnt to play the piano, guitar and drums. He took lessons for singing and sang in his school band as well as on local radio. He cited the singers Little Richard and Sam Cooke as his main inspirations and stated that there were definitive elements of their music in his work.

His father fell severely ill when Redding was 15, so he left school and began to support his mother in providing for the family. He held a number of menial jobs while also working as a guest musician with other artists such as pianist Gladdy Williams who often performed at social clubs. In the late 1950s, Redding met a local guitarist named Johnny Jenkins who invited him to join his group, the Pinetoppers. In 1960, he briefly moved to Los Angeles to try his luck but returned to Macon in 1961. In October 1962, he accompanied Jenkins to a recording session and grabbed the opportunity of recording his own song called “These Arms of Mine”. This song put Redding on to the map, becoming his first hit and reaching No. 20 on the R&B charts.

Redding was a successful performer throughout the 1960s, and released a number of hits such as “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, “Mr. Pitiful”, “I Can’t Turn You Loose” and “Respect” in 1965, “My Lover’s Prayer” and “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa” in 1966 and “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” in 1968. His soulful voice and emotionally powerful performances mesmerized crowds during tours and concerts. He had a huge following with black audiences but his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival introduced his music to white audiences as well, with whom he was equally successful.

Other than his own performances, Redding performed with other artists as

1985 - Pearman, Raven-Symoné Christina (1985- )

Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman, better known as “Raven-Symoné,” is an American actress and recording artist.  Her entertainment career began when she starred in advertisements for well-known brands such as Jell-O and Cool Whip and as a young model for the Ford Modeling Company.

Pearman was born to Christopher B. and Lydia (Gaulden) Pearman on December 10, 1985 in Atlanta, Georgia.  In the late 1990s, the family moved to New York City, New York in order to improve her chances at becoming an entertainer.  At the age of four she auditioned for a role in the 1990 film Ghost Dad, but was turned down because of her young age.  She so impressed comedian and actor Bill Cosby, however, that he later cast her in his television series The Cosby Show as Olivia Kendall, the adopted daughter of the Cosby’s oldest daughter.  She was an instant hit with audiences.

In 1993, Pearman took on the role of Nicole Lee in ABC’s Hangin" With Mr. Cooper.  The following year, she played Stymie’s girlfriend in her first big screen role in the film The Little Rascals; she was nine years old at the time.  The actress followed up these roles in Eddie Murphy vehicles Dr. Dolittle (1998) and its 2001 sequel, playing the title character’s daughter Charrise Dolittle.

Raven-Symoné graduated from Atlanta’s North Springs High School in 2003.  She continued her acting career in television shows and feature films, including Disney’s That’s So Raven and The Cheetah Girls.

In 2006, she took on her first dramatic role as Briana McCallister in For One Night, a Lifetime movie inspired by the true story of a black teen who championed for change in her small Georgia town by integrating the prom after three decades of racially segregated proms.

A woman of many talents, Pearman’s recording career began in 1993 at the age of eight when she released Here"s To New Dreams, becoming the youngest solo vocalist ever signed to the MCA label.  Since that time, she has recorded several studio albums, including This is My Time in 2004 and The Cheetah Girls 2 soundtrack

Spirituality Facts

1876 - Farley, James Conway (1854- 1910?)

James Conway Farley, the first African American to achieve prominence in the photography industry, was born on August 10, 1854 to slave parents in Prince Edwards County, Virginia. After his father died, he and his mother moved to Richmond in 1861. The sources are unclear as to whether Farley and his mother were free by that point. Farley"s mother worked as the storeroom keeper at the Colombia Hotel and Farley assisted her by making candles. He was taught to read and write by a cook at the hotel until he attended public school for three years. In an effort to help his mother financially, Farley apprenticed as a candle maker and a baker. Neither of these occupations held much interest for Farley. In 1872 he was hired at the chemical department of the C.R. Rees photography company in downtown Richmond, where he quickly developed a skill and passion for photography.

In 1875 Farley became an operator for G.W. Davis Photography Gallery, where he was given work autonomy rare to most African American at this time. Farley was able to set up the scenes for his photos and develop them. As the only black operator at the gallery, the four white operators were furious at his employment, skills, and success. They threatened to leave the gallery unless the proprietor, Davis, fired Farley. Noticing the disgruntlement among his coworkers and not wanting to harm Davis’ business, Farley offered to step down. Davis, however, acknowledged Farley’s great skill and dismissed the four white operators, while keeping Farley. Farley stayed at the Davis Gallery for twenty years, becoming the chief operator and helping the gallery become one of the most successful in the South.

Farley married Rebecca P. Robinson on December 10, 1876. The couple had seven daughters. Two years later, Farley joined the First Baptist Church, of which he would become deacon. Farley remained at the Davis Photography Gallery until 1895, when he opened his own business, Jefferson Fine Art Gallery, in Richmond.  His business, one of the few black-owned photography

1963 - (1963) Malcolm X, “Message to the Grassroots”

On December 10, 1963, while still the leading spokesman for the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X gave a speech at a rally in Detroit, Michigan.  That speech outlined his basic black nationalist philosophy and established him as a major critic of the civil rights movement.  The speech appears below.

And during the few moments that we have left, we want to have just an off-the-cuff chat between you and me -- us. We want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand. We all agree tonight, all of the speakers have agreed, that America has a very serious problem. Not only does America have a very serious problem, but our people have a very serious problem. America"s problem is us. We"re her problem. The only reason she has a problem is she doesn"t want us here. And every time you look at yourself, be you black, brown, red, or yellow -- a so-called Negro -- you represent a person who poses such a serious problem for America because you"re not wanted. Once you face this as a fact, then you can start plotting a course that will make you appear intelligent, instead of unintelligent.

What you and I need to do is learn to forget our differences. When we come together, we don"t come together as Baptists or Methodists. You don"t catch hell "cause you"re a Baptist, and you don"t catch hell "cause you"re a Methodist. You don"t catch hell "cause you"re a Methodist or Baptist. You don"t catch hell because you"re a Democrat or a Republican. You don"t catch hell because you"re a Mason or an Elk. And you sure don"t catch hell "cause you"re an American; "cause if you was an American, you wouldn"t catch no hell. You catch hell "cause you"re a black man. You catch hell, all of us catch hell, for the same reason.

So we are all black people, so-called Negroes, second-class citizens, ex-slaves. You are nothing but a ex-slave. You don"t like to be told that. But what else are you? You are ex-slaves. You didn"t come here on the "Mayflower." You came here on a slave ship -- in chains, like a horse, or a cow,

Malcolm X Speaks on History of Politics in the U.S.

1964 - (1964), Dr. Martin Luther King, “Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize”

On December 10, 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King became only the second African American (after Ralph Bunche) to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.  His acceptance speech appears below.

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time - the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the