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Black Facts for June 7th

1963 - Medgar Evers

Medgar Evers was a popular figure in the American history for his reputation as an African-American civil rights activist. He actively participated in overturning segregation at the University of Mississippi. He was the field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). A member of the White Citizens’ Council assassinated Evers.

Medgar Wiley Evers was born on July 2, 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi. The Everses worked at a small farm from which they made their living. Evers had to walk twelve miles each day to get to school and eventually received a high school diploma. He was drafted into army during the Second World War and fought bravely at the European Theater and the Battle of Normandy. Later he was discharged honorably as a sergeant. Upon his return from war, Evers went on to attend Alcorn College where he earned a degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor Arts. He actively participated in extracurricular activities such as debate, football, and track teams and also ran for class president. Evers got married in 1951 to classmate Myrlie Beasley.

Upon completion of his studies, the couple moved to Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Evers took up a job of a salesman for Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company. The head of the insurance company was president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and Evers helped them organize several campaigns. One of the campaigns was boycott of filling stations which denied blacks use of the stations’ restrooms. When he applied for University of Mississippi Law School in 1954, his application was rejected as the institute was still segregated. He was appointed the NAACP’s first field secretary for Mississippi, in 1954. He helped organize boycotts and built new chapters of NAACP.

Medgar Evers’s relentless efforts for Civil Rights Movement and investigative work made him a target of white supremacists. The hostility directed towards him grew as the day of assassination neared. His vocal support of Clyde Kennard and murder of Emmett Till

1917 - Gwendolyn Brooks

Born on June 7, 1917, to a family who belonged to Kansas but later moved to Chicago, Gwendolyn Brooks was an American poet and teacher. Even though both of her parents wanted to pursue their careers as doctors but were unable to do so due to financial constraints, they were supportive of their daughter’s interest in the English language and Brooks started writing from an early age.

At the age of thirteen, Brooks had her first poem, ‘Eventide’, published in the American Childhood Magazine, and by the time she was seventeen, she was writing poetry for the Chicago Defender, a newspaper for Chicago’s black population.

After completing junior college, Brooks turned entirely towards her passion for writing and never pursued a four-year degree. However, the multi-racial schools that she attended, including Chicago’s leading White school Hyde Park High School, the all-black Wendell Phillips and the integrated Englewood High School, helped her gain a perspective on the racial dynamics present in Chicago. The influence of these experiences is highlighted in Brooks’ works such as the poems of her first collection, A Street in Bronzeville, which focus on the Black urbans. Brooks also displayed political consciousness and combined racial equality with poetic techniques in her poems which followed the civil rights activism of the 1960s.

Gwendolyn Brooks’ first successful book in 1945 led her to publish a second one, Annie Allen, in 1949. Based on the life and experiences of a young Black girl, the latter won her the Pulitzer Prize, making her the first Black author to receive this award. This achievement was followed by a number of others, including the lifetime achievement award by the Poetry Society of America in 1989 and being chosen as the first Woman of the Year by Harvard Black Men’s Forum in 1995. Adding to her list of successes are more than seventy-five honorary degrees from various colleges and universities of the world. Another milestone was set in her career when Brooks was selected as the 1994 Jefferson Lecturer

1883 - Amatore, Michele (1826?-1883)

As a six-year-old boy named Quetto, Michele Amatorewitnessed his village of Commi in the Nuba Mountains of southern Sudandecimated by Egyptian soldiers and their leaders who profited from the slavetrade.  The oldest of four children, hisfather was a village chief named Bolingia; his mother was named Siliando.

The survivors of the savage raid experienced a nightmarish journey to the slavemarket in Khartoum, then on to Cairo where the boy was very fortunate to landin the home of an Italian, Luigi Castagnone—primary physician to the Khedive ofEgypt and Sudan—who treated him well and gave him the rudiments of an education. At age nine, the boy traveled with Castagnone’sfriend Maurizio Bussa, also a physician, to live in his new residence in Piedmont,northern Italy.  In 1838 the youngster converted to Catholicism and was baptized bythe Bishop of Asti.  He shed hisMuslim name (Sulayman al-Nubi) andadopted the Christian name Michele Amatore.

As a young man, Amatore returned to Africa and participated in the commercethat flowed from Cairo to Khartoum.  Whilethere he also hoped to exact revenge on the enslavers of his people and hesearched for family members scattered by the slave trade, a task that ultimatelyproved fruitless.

Back in Italy in 1848, as a patriotic citizen he enlisted in the military as asharpshooter (a.k.a. bersagliere, riflemendistinguished by their wide black-feathered hats) to fight in the First ItalianWar of Independence (1848-1849) that pitted the Kingdom of Sardinia(Piedmont-Sardinia) against the Austrian Empire.  Between battles Amatore taught himselfmathematics and French, and improved his penmanship.  For his courageous performance in the Battleof Solferino and San Martino during the Second Italian War of Independence(1859), he was bestowed the French Order of Merit.  Despite being a rare immigrant of color andlacking the advantage of military school training, by the Third Italian War of Independence(1866) he had risen to the rank of captain.  Amatore was made a Knight of the Crown ofItaly and

1977 - Herndon, Norris Bumstead (1897–1977)

Norris Bumstead Herndon was the second president of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, founded by his father, Alonzo Herndon, in 1905. Herndon was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 15, 1897, the only child of Adrienne Elizabeth McNeil, a graduate and teacher at Atlanta University, and Alonzo Herndon. His family’s light complexion allowed them to easily fit into the surrounding white community without question, and Herndons early education was in the Atlanta Public School System. In 1905 Alonzo Herndon took seven-year-old Norris to the founding meeting of the Niagara Movement, the precursor organization to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 

Norris Herndon’s mother died in 1910, just four months after the family moved into their new home. It devastated young Herndon, who according to friends who would later report that he was struggling with his sexuality and identity. With a stern father who insisted upon “the straight and narrow course,” Herndon learned to deny his feelings toward men and conduct a very private social life as an adult.

In 1919 Herndon graduated from Atlanta University. He then obtained a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard University’s Business School in Massachusetts in 1921. He was one of the only two African Americans in his graduating class. Young Herndon joined his father’s firm, first as a cashier and then eventually as the company’s first vice president.

After his father’s death in 1927, and at the young age of twenty-eight, Herndon was elected the second president of Atlanta Life Insurance Company.  In that same election, his stepmother Jessie (Gillespie) became vice president. When he took the helm, company assets totaled just over $1 million, but through decades of cautious management and prudent investments including some significant acquisitions, Atlanta Life’s assets grew to $54 million. At the time of Herndon’s retirement in 1973, Atlanta Life had grown to a company with assets of $84 million.  

Shortly after his stepmother,

1917 - Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks , in full Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (born June 7, 1917, Topeka, Kan., U.S.—died Dec. 3, 2000, Chicago, Ill.), American poet whose works deal with the everyday life of urban blacks. She was the first African American poet to win the Pulitzer Prize (1950), and in 1968 she was named the poet laureate of Illinois.

Brooks graduated from Wilson Junior College in Chicago in 1936. Her early verses appeared in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper written primarily for that city’s African American community. Her first published collection, A Street in Bronzeville (1945), reveals her talent for making the ordinary life of her neighbours extraordinary. Annie Allen (1949), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, is a loosely connected series of poems related to an African American girl’s growing up in Chicago. The same theme was used for Brooks’s novel Maud Martha (1953).

The Bean Eaters (1960) contains some of her best verse. Her Selected Poems (1963) was followed in 1968 by In the Mecca, half of which is a long narrative poem about people in the Mecca, a vast, fortresslike apartment building erected on the South Side of Chicago in 1891, which had long since deteriorated into a slum. The second half of the book contains individual poems, among which the most noteworthy are “Boy Breaking Glass” and “Malcolm X.” Brooks also wrote a book for children, Bronzeville Boys and Girls (1956). The autobiographical Report from Part One (1972) was an assemblage of personal memoirs, interviews, and letters; it was followed, though much later, by Report from Part Two (1996). Her other works include Primer for Blacks (1980), Young Poet’s Primer (1980), To Disembark (1981), The Near-Johannesburg Boy, and Other Poems (1986), Blacks (1987), Winnie (1988), and Children Coming Home (1991).

In 1985–86 Brooks was Library of Congress consultant in poetry (now poet laureate consultant in poetry), and in 1989 she received a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts. She became a professor of English at

1958 - Prince

Prince is an American singer, songwriter, producer and instrumentalist and one of the best selling artists of all time. He was born Prince Rogers Nelson to musician parents John L. Nelson and Mattie Shaw on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both Prince and his younger sister Tika were very interested in music, a hobby that was encouraged by their father. His parents separated when he was 10, after which he moved back and forth between living with his mother and father, before eventually moving in with the neighbors. Their son Andre Anderson became his friend, and the two joined a band called Grand Central, which was later renamed Champagne. In 1976, he made a demo tape with the help of a sound engineer named Chris Moon. This tape came to the attention of a Minneapolis businessman named Owen Husney who was so impressed with it that he helped Prince to procure a record deal with Warner Brothers to write, record and produce his own album.

With the record deal under his belt, Prince launched his first album titled “For You” in 1978. It got an unenthusiastic response from audiences and critics. His second album “Prince” released in 1979, got a much better response. It was at the top 3 in the charts and had the No. 1 hit “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. The album went platinum and helped Prince establish his name in the industry. His success continued with his 3rd and 4th albums titled “Dirty Mind” and “1999” respectively. The latter got rave reviews from critics and fans and went platinum thrice. This album got Prince his first American Music Awards and Grammy Award nominations. This success was soon followed by another equally important one; Prince wrote the soundtrack album for his debut movie “Purple Rain”. The album had two No. 1 hits titled “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” and went platinum 13 times. He received 10 American Award nominations, out of which he won 3, along with 2 Grammy Awards and the Oscar Award for “Best Original Song Score”. He became one of the first African American artists to be