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Black Facts for March 26th

1944 - Diana Ross

Diana Ross is an American singer and actress, who is one of the most successful recording artists with record sales exceeding 100 million copies. She was born on March 26, 1944, in Detroit, Michigan. She began singing in high school and formed a band with her friends Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Barbara Martin. Martin dropped out, but the rest formed a group called “The Supremes” which was signed by Motown Records by the label founder Berry Gordy, in 1961 when they were just 17. Their first No. 1 hit song was  “Where Did Our Love Go?” released in 1964. This was followed by a multitude of hits such as “Stop! In the Name of Love” released in 1965 and “Someday We Will Be Together” released in 1969. The group was later renamed “Diana Ross and the Supremes”.

Despite the group’s international success, Ross decided to leave and go solo, which she did in 1969. Her first successes as a solo artist were the singles “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” which reached No. 1 on the pop charts and gave Ross her first Grammy Award nomination. She made her first foray into acting by starring in the 1972 film “Lady Sings the Blues” based on the life of Billie Holiday. Ross received a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance. She also sang the soundtrack for the film which was a huge success, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and generating one of her highest sales. In 1973, she recorded a duet album with Marvin Gaye, another successful Motown artist. The album was certified Gold in the U.K. and became a huge success overseas. Ross toured extensively in the following years, and even received an invitation for a private audience with the Japanese Empress Nagako at the Imperial Palace in Japan.

In 1974, Ross acted in the film “Mahagony” and achieved another No. 1 hit with the song “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” which was on the film’s soundtrack. In 1976, she achieved another No. 1 hit with “Love Hangover”, this

1953 - Mau Mau (1952-1960)

The Mau Mau Uprising, a revolt against colonial rule in Kenya, lasted from 1952 through 1960 and helped to hasten Kenya’s independence. Issues like the expulsion of Kikuyu tenants from settler farms, loss of land to white settlers, poverty, and lack of true political representation for Africans provided the impetus for the revolt. During the eight-year uprising, 32 white settlers and about 200 British police and army soldiers were killed.  Over 1,800 African civilians were killed and some put the number of Mau Mau rebels killed at around 20,000. Although the Uprising was directed primarily against British colonial forces and the white settler community, much of the violence took place between rebel and loyalist Africans. Thus the uprising often had the appearance of a civil war with atrocities on both sides.

The uprising, which involved mostly Kikuyu people, the largest ethnic group in the colony, began to take shape when more radical Kikuyu militants were invited in to the nationalist KAU (Kenya African Union). Called Muhimu, these activists replaced a more moderate, constitutional agenda with a militant one. The Muhimu began widespread Kikuyu oathing, often through intimidation and threats. Traditional oathing ceremonies were believed to bind people to the cause, with dire consequences like death resulting on the breaking of such oaths. The British responded with de-oathing ceremonies.  Additionally, the Muhimu attacked loyalists and white settlers.  

Although the exact origins of the conflict are in dispute, the war officially began in October 1952 when an emergency was declared and British troops were sent to Kenya.  The British response to the uprising entailed massive round-ups of suspected Mau Mau and supporters, with large numbers of people hanged and up to 150,000 Kikuyu held in detention camps.

Many Mau Mau rebels and armies based themselves in forest areas of Mt. Kenya and Aberdares. Urban militants, however, waged the struggle in Nairobi and other Kenyan cities. The largest single massacre of the

1886 - Mulzac, Hugh (1886-1971)

Hugh Mulzac, the first African American shipcommander, was born on March 26, 1886 in the British West Indiess Union Islandin Saint Vincent Grenadines. 

After graduating from high school, Mulzac servedon British merchant vessels.  He earned amates license from Swansea Nautical Collegein Great Britainand reached the rank of mate.  DuringWorld War I Mulzac served as a ships officer on British and American ships.   In 1918 Mulzac immigrated to the United States,becoming a citizen that same year and two years later he became the firstAfrican American to pass the shipping masters examination.    

In 1920 Mulzac joined Marcus Garveys UniversalNegro Improvement Association (UNIA).  Becauseof his history with seafaring vessels he was named a chief officer on the SS Yarmouth, one of the UNIAs Black StarLine vessels.  Mulzac resigned from hisposition in 1921 because of disagreements with the Garvey organization.  For the next twenty years, racialdiscrimination in the shipping industry forced Mulzac to work as a stewarddespite his previous experience.        

In 1942 his career was briefly rescued when theUnited States Maritime Commission offered Mulzac, at the age of 56, theopportunity to command the first Libertyship named after an African American, the SS Booker T. Washington.  He initiallydeclined the offer because Commission policies required him to command an allblack crew.  When the NationalAssociation for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other black organizationsprotested, Commission officials then changed the racial policy and from 1942 to1947 he commanded an integrated crew.  VariousLiberty ships under his command made 22 roundtrips, transporting 18,000 soldiers to the war theater in Europeand the Pacific.

Whenhis last assignment on a Libertyship ended in 1947, now 61-year-old Mulzac was still denied the opportunity tocommand privately owned commercial vessels. He retired from seafaring andturned to radical politics.  In 1950, Mulzacran on the American Labor Party (ALP) ticket for Queens

1959 - Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler , in full Raymond Thornton Chandler (born July 23, 1888, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.—died March 26, 1959, La Jolla, California), American author of detective fiction, the creator of the private detective Philip Marlowe, whom he characterized as a poor but honest upholder of ideals in an opportunistic and sometimes brutal society in Los Angeles.

From 1896 to 1912 Chandler lived in England with his mother, a British subject of Irish birth. Although he was an American citizen and a resident of California when World War I began in 1914, he served in the Canadian army and then in the Royal Flying Corps (afterward the Royal Air Force). Having returned to California in 1919, he prospered as a petroleum company executive until the Great Depression of the 1930s, when he turned to writing for a living. His first published short story appeared in the “pulp” magazine Black Mask in 1933. From 1943 he was a Hollywood screenwriter. Among his best-known scripts were for the films Double Indemnity (1944), The Blue Dahlia (1946), and Strangers on a Train (1951), the last written in collaboration with Czenzi Ormonde.

Chandler completed seven novels, all with Philip Marlowe as hero: The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The High Window (1942), The Lady in the Lake (1943), The Little Sister (1949), The Long Goodbye (1953), and Playback (1958). Among his numerous short-story collections are Five Murderers (1944) and The Midnight Raymond Chandler (1971). The most popular film versions of Chandler’s work were Murder, My Sweet (1944; also distributed as Farewell, My Lovely), starring Dick Powell, and The Big Sleep (1946), starring Humphrey Bogart, both film noir classics.