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Black Facts for October 2nd

1936 - Cooper, J. Gary (1936– )

J. Gary Cooper, military, government, and business leader, was appointed United States Ambassador to Jamaica by President Bill Clinton in 1994. He was the first African American to occupy the position. Prior to his appointment, he had a distinguished military career.

Jerome Gary Cooper was born on October 2, 1936 in Lafayette, Louisiana to a devout Catholic family, but grew up in segregated Mobile, Alabama and attended McGill-Toolen Catholic High School.  Based on a recommendation from Archbishop Fulton Sheen of New York, he won an academic scholarship to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance in 1958.  He continued his education 21 years later, enrolling in Harvard University’s SMG (Senior Management Graduate) program in 1979. In 2003, he attended the Directors Education Institute at Duke Universitys Fuqua School of Business. Alabamas Troy University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Law in 1990.

Immediately after graduating from Notre Dame, Cooper joined the United States Marine Corps. From 1958 to 1970 he was an active duty officer and became the first African American officer in Marine Corps history to lead an infantry company into combat.  Over his career he earned the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross. He left the Marine Corps in 1970 at the rank of major.

In 1970, Cooper became the CEO of his familys insurance company and funeral home in Mobile and in 1973 he was elected to the Alabama Legislature.  Three years later (1976) he helped found Commonwealth National Bank, the first black owned bank to serve Southern Alabama.  In 1978 Alabama Governor George Wallace appointed Cooper Commissioner of the Alabama State Department of Human Resources, where he managed a staff of over 4,000 and the state’s largest agency budget. In 1981 he joined David Volkert and Associates, an engineering and architectural firm in Mobile, Alabama, as vice president

1935 - Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. (1935-1967)

Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., was the first African American selected to be an astronaut.  He was also a test pilot and senior United States Air Force pilot with over 2,500 flight hours.

Born in Chicago, Illinois on October 2, 1935, Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. graduated from Englewood High School in Chicago in the top 10 percent of his class. In 1956 he graduated from Bradley University with a B.A. in Chemistry. While in college he enlisted in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and distinguished himself, receiving the commission of Second Lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve Program.

In 1956 Lawrence completed flight training at Malden Air Force Base and was designated a U.S. Air Force pilot. Over the next decade Lawrence accrued over 2,500 hours of flight time with 2,000 of those hours in jets. By age 25, Lawrence had completed an Air Force assignment as an instructor pilot for German Air Force trainees.

The Air Force later assigned Lawrence to flight test the recently developed Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Lawrence investigated glide flight characteristics necessary for the design of unpowered spacecraft returning to Earth from orbit. NASA cited Lawrence for his accomplishments including the crucial flight maneuver data that in the agencys words, contributed greatly to the development of the Space Shuttle.  While still in the Air Force, Lawrence earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Ohio State University in 1965.

In June of 1967 Lawrence was selected as an astronaut in the Manned Orbital Laboratory, making him the first African American astronaut selected for space travel.  The Manned Orbital Laboratory Program was a precursor to the Shuttle Program.

Just six months later, in December of 1967, Lawrence was the backseat passenger flying as in instructor to a student pilot learning the steep descent glide technique. The pilot flying the F-104 made an approach to land but flared too late, causing the jet to crash. The pilot of the plane ejected successfully, however, by the time Lawrence ejected the plane

1948 - Avery Brooks

Avery Brooks is an American entertainer who is involved in acting, singing and film direction. He was born in Evansville, Indiana on October 2, 1948 to Eva Lydia and Samuel Brooks. His mother was a music conductor and instructor and his father was a machine operator. He belonged to a musical family, as his maternal grandfather, Samuel Travis Crawford, had also been a singer and his mother was one of the first African American women to earn a Masters degree in music from Northwestern University. His father was in a choir and also performed on the radio. His uncle Samuel Travis Crawford was also a member of a band named the Delta Rhythm Boys. Brooks studied at Indiana University and Oberlin College. In 1976, he received an M.F.A. in acting and directing from Rutgers University, making him the first Rutgers’ African American M.F.A. graduate in this field.

His first venture into acting was in 1985 for the ABC television series “Spenser: For Hire”. It was a detective series in which he played the role of Hawk. The character was so popular that Avery Brooks received his own spinoff show called “A Man Called Hawk”. He also acted in four television movies where he reprised his role as Hawk, called “Spenser: Ceremony”, “Spenser: Pale Kings and Princes”, “Spenser: The Judas Goat” and “Spenser: A Savage Place”. His most popular role was that of Captain Benjamin Sisko in the television series “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. He played this role for seven seasons from 1993 to 1999. Brooks was selected from amongst a hundred other actors auditioning for the same role to become the first African American actor to play a lead role in a Star Trek series. He also directed 9 episodes of the Star Trek, including one on racial injustice. He saw his role as a good platform to project a positive image about African Americans and be a good role model for youngsters.

In 1984, he was cast as Solomon Northup in a television film called “Half Slave, Half Free: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey”. It was directed by Gordon Parks and produced by

2007 - Lecture 3 | African-American Freedom Struggle (Stanford)

Lecture 3 of Clay Carsons Introduction to African-American History Course (HIST 166) concentrating on the Modern Freedom Struggle (Fall 2007). This lecture is entitled Shirley Graham: Transformation of an Artist/Intellectual. Recorded October 2, 2007 at Stanford University.

This course introduces the viewer to African-American history, with particular emphasis on the political thought and protest movements of the period after 1930, focusing on selected individuals who have shaped and been shaped by modern African-American struggles for freedom and justice. Clayborne Carson is a professor in the History Department at Stanford University.

Complete playlist for the course:

Course syllabus:

More on Clayborne Carson:

Stanford University channel on YouTube:

Elaine Brown: New Age Racism - Duration: 1:56:27. University of California Television (UCTV) 74,026 views

Talk to Al Jazeera S2015 • E3 Talk to Al Jazeera - Akon: America was never built for black people - Duration: 25:01. Al Jazeera English 1,159,053 views

Cornel West - Duration: 1:11:21. CSUSonoma 116,399 views

1. Introduction to Human Behavioral Biology - Duration: 57:15. Stanford 1,420,385 views

Angela Davis: Wars Against Women- Past Present and Future? - Duration: 58:13. University of California Television (UCTV) 27,601 views

Adaptation to Climate Change - Duration: 52:31. Stanford 5,981 views