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Black Facts for May 11th

1892 - Clayton, Alonzo (1876–1917)

Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, who reached stardom at the age of 15 when he became the youngest rider to win the Kentucky Derby, was born on March 27, 1876 in Kansas City, Missouri to Robert and Evaline Clayton.  

Alonzo Clayton moved with his parents and eight siblings to North Little Rock, Arkansas at the age of 10.  His father, Robert Clayton was a carpenter while his mother, Evaline Clayton stayed at home with the children.  In North Little Rock, Alonzo attended school and worked as a hotel boy and a shoeshine boy to help support his family.

At the age of 12, Clayton started his riding career when he ran away from home to follow his brothers’ footsteps as a jockey.  He landed a job with Lucky Baldwin’s Stable in Chicago as an exercise boy.  One year later, at 13, he was riding and competing in races on the East coast.  At 14, he raced in New York City at Morris Park and in the Jerome Stakes where he recorded his first win as a rider in a major race.  

On May 11, 1892, Clayton rode in and won the Kentucky Derby where he recorded a time of 2:41.50.  Riding Azra, he also set a record as the youngest rider to win the prestigious race.  

Throughout Clayton’s remarkable career, he won other major races including the Champagne Stakes (1891), Jerome Handicap (1891), Clark Handicap (1892, 1897), Travers Stakes (1892), Monmouth Handicap (1893), Kentucky Oaks (1894, 1895) and the Arkansas Derby (1895).

By 1900 Claytons career began to decline.  He tried a comeback in 1904 but he was arrested for allegedly fixing a race in New York.  Although all charges were dismissed, his career was over.

Clayton retired to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1904 where he bought a prominent home known now as the Engelberger House which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

Clayton lived his final years in California and died on March 17, 1917 from chronic pulmonary tuberculosis.  He is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

Copyright 2007-2017 - BlackPast.org v3.0 NDCHost - California |

1933 - Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan, born as Louis Eugene Wolcott, is a Muslim American, known most popularly as a leader of the Islamic organization Nation of Islam (NOI). He was born on May 11, 1933 in The Bronx, New York. Farrakhan’s family had a difficult life, as he never knew his biological father and the family moved around a lot while the youngster was growing up. At age 6, he began receiving training for the violin. By age 13, he was so skilled with the instrument that he managed to play with famous orchestras such as the Boston College Orchestra. He continued to win prizes on a regular basis for his talent, and later enrolled in Boston Latin School and Winston-Salem Teachers College.

Farrakhan had some popular hits in his short lived musical career, performing under the name ‘The Charmer’. On tour in Chicago in 1955, he first came in contact with the teachings of NOI through saxophonist Rodney Smith. Having attended an address by then NOI leader Elijah Muhammad, Farrakhan instantly became inspired by his teachings and aspired to join the group. After passing the necessary criteria for becoming an NOI member, he was awarded the customary ‘X’ placeholder, which comes in place of most African Americans’ European slave prescribed surnames. Louis X’s name then changed to Louis Farrakhan after Muhammad replaced it sometime in the future.

Now a firm member of the NOI, Louis Farrakhan was keen on rising through the ranks quickly. He worked closely with Malcolm X who was then a minister at the Temple of Islam in Boston. Farrakhan continued to be inspired and mentored by Malcolm X, even serving as his assistant minister. After the assassination of Malcolm X, Farrakhan was appointed as national spokesman or national representative of the NOI, as well as minister of Harlem Mosque. After Elijah Muhammad’s death in 1975, a lot of things changed for NOI, from it’s organizational structure to the very core of it’s message. Taking on a more liberal standpoint and including inter-religious cooperation and dialogue, Warith Muhammad changed

1970 - Ford, Harold Jr. (1970- )

Harold Eugene Ford, Jr. was born in Memphis, Tennessee on May 11, 1970. He currently serves as chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and is a former member of the United States House of Representatives from Tennessee.  During his tenure in congress Ford represented the state’s 9th congressional district from 1997 until 2007. This district included most of Memphis.  Bucking tradition, Ford did not seek reelection to his House seat in 2006 and instead unsuccessfully sought the Senate seat that was being vacated by the retiring senator Bill Frist.  Ford was the only African American member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats.

After the 2002 mid term elections resulted in Democrats losing Congressional seats, Ford announced his desire to be House Minority Whip based on Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s charge that the democratic leadership was less than competent.  Ford was unsuccessful in his election bid, but surprised many politicians and pundits on both sides of the political aisle with the amount of support he garnered. A few observers suggested that he might become the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004.  However, given the fact that he was only thirty-four years old, he was ineligible for the office. Ford would be four months shy of thirty-five on Inauguration Day (January 20, 2005).

In Congress, Ford had a moderate voting record.  He supported a restriction of benefits for same-sex couples, as well as the Federal Marriage Amendment (which would ban same-sex marriage).  He was one of the stronger Democratic voices (along with Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut) in support of the Iraq War and was critical of Senate Democrats who attempted to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Moreover, he was one of the few Democrats who voted in support of the 2006 Bankruptcy Bill.  He also supported limitations on abortion, defining himself as a “pro-life” candidate.  However, he also opposed President George W. Bush’s energy proposals

1893 - Samuel Chapman Armstrong

Samuel Chapman Armstrong , (born Jan. 30, 1839, Maui, Hawaii—died May 11, 1893, Hampton, Va., U.S.), Union military commander of black troops during the American Civil War and founder of Hampton Institute, a vocational educational school for blacks.

The son of American missionaries to Hawaii, Armstrong attended Oahu College for two years before going to the United States in 1860. He enrolled at Williams College; but, on the outbreak of the Civil War, he left school to accept a commission as captain in the 125th New York Regiment. He recruited and trained his own troops and led them in several battles, including Gettysburg.

First promoted to major and then to colonel, Armstrong was put in command of the 9th Regiment, a corps consisting entirely of black troops. Determined to show the full capabilities of black soldiers, he trained his men rigorously. By the end of the war, he held the rank of brigadier general, and the troops under his command had distinguished themselves on many occasions.

After the war, Armstrong became an agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau and, in 1866, took charge of a huge camp of former slaves in Hampton, Va. Recognizing the need for those blacks to receive an education, Armstrong in 1867 convinced the American Missionary Association and a private benefactor to purchase land in Hampton and establish a vocational training institution there. Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute opened in 1868. For the next 25 years, Armstrong laboured to sustain and administer the school, which became a leading centre for both vocational training and academic education for Southern blacks.