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Black Facts for May 20th

1972 - Busta Rhymes

Busta Rhymes is an American rapper and actor. His birth name is Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr. He was born on May 20, 1972 to Geraldine Green and Trevor Smith, who were Jamaican immigrants. He moved to Long Island at the age of 12, where he attended Uniondale High School. After graduating from high school in 1991, he attended  George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School along with future rap stars  Jay-Z, DMX and The Notorious B.I.G. In 1989, Rhymes formed the hip hop group Leaders of the New School, along with fellow band members Charlie Brown, Dinco D and Cut Monitor Milo. The band’s debut album was released via Elektra Records and was titled “A Future Without a Past…”. They gained fame as the opening act for the group “Public Enemy”.

The band was then featured on the song “Scenario” by American hip hop group “A Tribe Called Quest”. They then released their next album titled “T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind’s Eye)” before breaking up in 1993. Rhymes began to collaborate with other artists such as Big Daddy Kane, Another Bad Creation, The Notorious B.I.G., Brand Nubian, A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, Mary J. Blige, Puff Daddy and LL Cool J. Rhyme’s solo album, titled “The Coming” was released in 1995, followed by his second album “When Disaster Strikes” in 1997. The album included the hit songs “Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check”, “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” and “Fire It Up”.

In 1998, Busta Rhymes released his album “Extinction Level Event (Final World Front)” from which the single “Gimme Some More” reached No. 6 on the UK singles chart and “What’s It Gonna Be?!” (featuring Janet Jackson) reached No. 11 on both the U.S. and U.K. charts. He was particularly noted for his fast paced rhyming. His final album with Elektra Records was “Anarchy”, released in 2000. He then moved to J Records, founded by ex Arista chief Clive Davis. He released his greatest hits album titled “Total Devastation: The Best of Busta Rhymes” followed by “Genesis” featuring the hit singles “What It Is” and “Break Ya Neck”.

1743 - Touissant L'Ouverture, born

Birthday of Haitian revolutionary Pierre-Dominique Touissant LOverture. There had been slave revolts before: in the Caribbean, in South America, and in

North America. But none would be as fantastic as the Great Haitian Slave Revolt.

In 1791 the small French island colonys a half-million African slaves set fire to

plantations and killed all those in their path. Of all the rebels, none would be so

remembered as a short, grey-haired African who in a few years turned rebellion

into revolution: Francois Dominique Toussaint LOverture. Though not a

participant in the beginning fires which marked the start of the revolt, he quickly

became its greatest soldier. Joining the tattered rebel army, Touissant trained the

disorganized Black slaves into hardened troops. Holding up his musket in

defiance, he told Haitian slaves, Here is your liberty! He then took to the field as

an ally of Spain against France then as an ally of France against England and

Spain. Playing the competing European powers against each other, he

outmaneuvered the best diplomats of his day. A superb military general, Toussaint

managed to defeat the English army causing over 40,000 casualties. He was even

responsible for defeating the armies of that periods greatest conqueror, Napoleon

Bonaparte. Tricked into accepting an invitation from a French General to discuss

matters of state, Toussaint was captured by French forces. Napoleon, taking no

chances, locked him in a medieval fortress high in the Jura Alps of the

French-Swiss borders. Upon hearing of his capture Haiti once again erupted into

revolt. In the name of Toussaint the cry was War for war, crime for crime,

atrocity for atrocity! Led by Toussaints successor, the military genius

Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the Haitian soldiers defeated the French and gained

independence for their island nation in November of 1803. Toussaint however

would not live to see the day. Eight months earlier, the short Black general who

electrified the world, whose name was on the lips of everyone from the enslaved

1945 - Ford, Harold Sr. (1945- )

Harold Eugene Ford, Sr., a United States Representative from Tennessee from 1975 to 1997, was born on May 20, 1945 in Memphis, Tennessee to Vera Davis and Newton Jackson Ford, a funeral home director.  Ford’s family was part of the local black elite dating back to the beginning of the 20th Century.  Ford graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville in 1967 and later earned an M.B.A. degree from Howard University in 1982.

In 1974, Ford won the Democratic nomination for the Memphis-based 8th Congressional District and the right to oppose four-term Republican incumbent Dan Kuykendall. Kuykendall had first been elected to Congress in 1964, the first of the “Goldwater Republicans” to be elected from the South.  Despite Kuykendall’s most recent reelection in 1972, the district was becoming more African American as many Memphis whites left the city for the suburbs.  Ford also took advantage of an unprecedented voter registration drive campaign in African American Memphis.  The campaign between the white conservative Republican and black liberal Democrat was hotly contested and quickly took on racial overtones.

When the ballots were initially counted it appeared that Kuykendall had won in a close race.  However, Ford’s supporters uncovered several ballot boxes that had reportedly been in a dumpster behind the offices of the then-all white Shelby County Election Commission.  When these previously uncounted votes were verified, Ford was declared the winner in what was considered a significant upset by some political analysts.  

Ford was the first African American to represent Tennessee in Congress in the 20th century.  He served on the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations that investigated the death of prominent American leaders.  Ford easily won reelection in 1976 and 1978 through a coalition of black activists and organized labor and ran unopposed in 1980.

Beginning in the late 1980s Ford groomed his son Harold Ford, Jr. to be his successor and decided that 1996 would be the perfect time for such a

1952 - Roger Milla

Roger Milla , in full Albert Roger Milla, original name Albert Roger Miller (born May 20, 1952, Yaoundé, Camer.), Cameroonian football (soccer) player, renowned for his impeccable technique and grace under pressure. A forward, he starred on the Cameroon national team that became the first African squad to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup. He was twice named African Player of the Year (1976, 1990).

The young Milla’s skill and imagination drew the attention of the Éclair club of Douala, who signed him as an amateur in 1965. He later joined the Leopards of Douala (1970–72), with whom he won his first national championship in 1972. Having moved to Tonnerre of Yaoundé (1972–78), he had a terrific year in 1975, scoring the winning goal in the Cameroon Cup final and playing a leading role in the club’s victorious campaign in the first African Cup Winners’ Cup. Milla moved to France and played with Valenciennes (1978–79), AS Monaco (1979–80), Bastia (1980–84), Saint-Étienne (1984–86), and Montpellier (1986–89). At Bastia he scored a fantastic goal in the team’s victory in the 1981 French Cup final; he also won a French Cup in 1980 with Monaco. He ended his club career in 1990 after a season with Saint-Pierre in Réunion.

In the 1980s and ’90s Milla and Cameroon’s national team, known as the Indomitable Lions, became world famous. He was the leading scorer in the two African Cup of Nations victories claimed by Cameroon in 1984 and 1988. He played in the 1982 World Cup finals, when Cameroon earned international respect after a superb performance in the tournament. At the 1990 World Cup, 38-year-old Milla, playing as a substitute, scored four goals and led Cameroon to the quarterfinals. Milla’s celebration dance after his winning goal against Colombia—a kind of shimmy performed near the corner flag—inspired imitations by goal scorers throughout the football world. Coming out of retirement for the 1994 World Cup, Milla, then 42 years old, became the oldest player to score a goal in the World Cup finals.

1995 - Kay, Ulysses S. (1917-1995)

Ulysses Simpson Kay, Jr., was one of the leading black composers in the classical music industry in the 20th Century. Born in Tucson, Arizona, Kay grew up in a musically talented family. His mother, Elizabeth Kay, was a church pianist.  His step-brother played the violin and his step-sister played piano. His father Ulysses Kay, Sr., a former Texas cowboy and barber, did not play any instruments, but enjoyed listening to music and singing.  His maternal uncle, of whom Kay was very fond, was the highly acclaimed jazz musician King Oliver.

Kay studied piano, violin, and saxophone as a child and was later in the glee club, marching band, and jazz band in his Tucson high school. After graduating from the University of Arizona in 1938 with a degree in music education, he earned a master’s degree in composition at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.  His first compositions were written at Eastman. In the summer of 1941 Kay entered the Berkshire Music Center (later named Tanglewood) in western Massachusetts after performing in the Berkshire Festival.  At Berkshire he met and studied with neoclassical composer Paul Hindemith, whom Kay also followed to Yale University for one year of post-graduate study in music.

In 1942 Kay joined the U.S. Navy and played in its band during World War II.  There he acquired proficiency on a number of band instruments including the saxophone, flute, piccolo, and piano.  After the war, Kay continued his formal music education, studying composition at Colombia University in 1947 on the Alice M. Ditson Fellowship (1946).

In 1947 Kay traveled to Rome, Italy to continue his studies, financed by a series of scholarships including a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship (1947), a Fulbright Scholarship (1949) and the Prix de Rome (1949, 1951).  He married Barbara Harrison in 1949 in New York and she later joined him in Italy.  Harrison taught music at the Anglo-American Overseas School in Rome. The couple gave birth to their first daughter, Virginia, in 1951 while still in Rome. They