Friday, 31 May 2013


            BLACK                     SOCIAL                   HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                   Betty Shabazz, also known as Betty X, was born Betty Dean Sanders. Although her birth records have been lost, she was likely born on May 28, 1934. Shabazz married Nation of Islam spokesman Malcolm X in 1958. After her husband’s assassination in 1965, Shabazz went on to a career in university administration and activism. She died from injuries sustained in a fire on June 23, 1997.

Early Life

Betty Dean Sanders was born on May 28, 1934, to the teenaged Ollie Mae Sanders and Shelman Sandlin. While Betty spent most of her childhood in Detroit, she may have been born in Pinehurst, Georgia. At the age of 11, Betty began living with businessman Lorenzo Malloy and his wife, Helen. Helen Malloy was a local activist who organized boycotts of stores discriminating against African Americans.

After high school, Sanders studied at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The extreme racism she encountered in the Jim Crow South shocked and frustrated her. In 1953, she left Alabama to study at the Brooklyn State College School of Nursing in New York City. While less overt, the racism that she observed in New York deeply affected Betty.

Nation of Islam

During her second year of nursing school, Sanders was invited by an older nurse’s aide to a dinner party at the National of Islam temple in Harlem. She enjoyed the evening but declined to join the organization at that time. During her next visit to the temple, Sanders met Malcolm X, who was her friend’s minister. Sanders began attending Malcolm X’s services. She converted in 1956, changing her surname to “X” to represent the loss of her African ancestry.

Betty X and Malcolm X were married on January 14, 1958, in Michigan. The couple eventually had six daughters. In 1964, Malcolm X announced that his family was leaving the Nation of Islam. He and Betty X, now known as Betty Shabazz, became Sunni Muslims.

Assassination of Malcolm X

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated while giving a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. Shabazz was in the audience near the stage with her daughters. Angry onlookers caught and beat one of the assassins, who was arrested on the scene. Eyewitnesses identified two more suspects. All three men, who were members of the Nation of Islam, were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Later Life

Shabazz never remarried. She raised her six daughters alone, aided by annual royalties from her husband’s book The Autobiography of Malcolm X and other publications. In late 1969, Shabazz completed an undergraduate degree at Jersey City State College, followed by a doctoral degree in higher-education administration at the University of Massachusetts. She then accepted a position as an associate professor of health sciences at New York’s Medgar Evers College. She worked as a university administrator and fund-raiser until her death.

For many years, Shabazz and her family suspected the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, of arranging the assassination of her husband.

In 1995, Shabazz’s daughter Qubilah was prosecuted for hiring an assassin to kill Farrakhan. Farrakhan reached out to the family to defend Qubilah, prompting a public reconciliation between Shabazz and Farrakhan.


While Qubilah attended a rehabilitation program, she sent her 10-year-old son, Malcolm, to stay with her mother in New York. On June 1, 1997, Malcolm set a fire in Shabazz’s apartment. Shabazz suffered severe burns and died on June 23, 1997. Malcolm Shabazz was sent to a juvenile detention for manslaughter and arson.

Betty Shabazz is buried beside her husband at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.


                            BLACK       SOCIAL      HISTORY                                                                                                                                                            Alexander Thomas Augusta March 8, 1825 – December 21, 1890 was a surgeon, professor of medicine, and veteran of the American Civil War. In 1863, he became the United States Army's first African-American physician and also the first black hospital administrator in U.S. history.

Augusta was born to free African-American parents in Norfolk, Virginia. At that time he began to learn to read while working as a barber although it was illegal to do so in Virginia at that time. He moved to Baltimore while still in his youth. He also began pursuing an education in the field of medicine at that time. He married Baltimore native Mary O. Burgoin on January 12, 1847.

Medical training

Augusta applied to study medicine at the University of Pennsylvania but was refused admission. Although he faced institutionalized racism in his career, inadequate preparation was cited.Nevertheless, he took private instruction from someone on the faculty. As he was determined to become a physician, Augusta travelled to California and earned the funds necessary to pursue his goal of becoming a doctor. Concerned that he would not be allowed to enroll in medical school in the U.S., he enrolled at Trinity College of the University of Toronto in 1850. He also conducted business as a druggist and chemist. Six years later he received a degree in medicine.
Augusta remained in Toronto, Canada West, establishing his medical practice. The City of Toronto placed him in charge of Toronto General Hospital and later an industrial school. He supported local antislavery activities. He also founded the Provincial Association for the Education and Elevation of the Coloured People of Canada, a literary society that donated books and other school supplies to black children, as a way of giving back to the community. Augusta left Canada for the West Indies in about 1860, returning to Baltimore at the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861.

Civil War service

Augusta went to Washington, D.C., wrote Abraham Lincoln offering his services as a surgeon and was given a Presidential commission in the Union Army in October 1862. On April 4, 1863, he received a major's commission as surgeon for African-American troops. This made him the United States Army's first African-American physician out of eight in the Union Army and its highest-ranking African-American officer at the time. Some whites disapproved of him having such a high rank and as such he was mobbed in Baltimore during May 1863 (where three people were arrested for assault) and in Washington for publicly wearing his officer's uniform. On October 2, 1863 he was commissioned Regimental Surgeon of the Seventh U.S. Colored Troops.
On February 1, 1864, Augusta wrote to Judge Advocate Captain C. W. Clippington about discrimination against African-American passengers on the streetcars (most likely horse-drawn) of Washington, D.C.:
Sir: I have the honor to report that I have been obstructed in getting to the court this morning by the conductor of car No. 32, of the Fourteenth Street line of the city railway. I started from my lodgings to go to the hospital I formerly had charge of to get some notes of the case I was to give evidence in, and hailed the car at the corner of Fourteenth and I streets. It was stopped for me and when I attempted to enter the conductor pulled me back, and informed me that I must ride on the front with the driver as it was against the rules for colored persons to ride inside. I told him, I would not ride on the front, and he said I should not ride at all. He then ejected me from the platform, and at the same time gave orders to the driver to go on. I have therefore been compelled to walk the distance in the mud and rain, and have also been delayed in my attendance upon the court.
I therefore most respectfully request that the offender may be arrested and brought to punishment.
His letter was printed in New York and Washington newspapers. On February 10, 1864, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner introduced a resolution in Congress:
Resolved, That the Committee on the District of Columbia be directed to consider the expediency of further providing by law against the exclusion of colored persons from the equal enjoyment of all railroad privileges in the District of Columbia.
To support his resolution, Sumner read to the assemblage Dr. Augusta's letter.
Edward Bates, the Attorney General in President Abraham Lincoln's cabinet, belittled the incident and senators who supported Sumner.
Augusta wrote a letter of protest against the unfair treatment put upon African Americans who ride trains to Major General Lewis Wallace. That letter preceded Plessy vs Ferguson in attempting to eliminate racial segregation on transportation in the U.S. On March 13, 1865, he was brevetted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
On February 26, 1868, Augusta testified before the United States congressional Committee on the District of Columbia with regard to Mrs. Kate Brown. Mrs. Brown, an employee of Congress, had been injured when an employee of the Alexandria, Washington, and Georgetown Railroad forcibly ejected her from a passenger car. The railroad was prohibited by its charter from discrimination against passenger because of race.

Later years

Mustering out of the service in October 1866, Augusta accepted an assignment with the Freedman's Bureau, heading the agency's Lincoln Hospital in Savannah, Georgia. While there, he encouraged African-American self-help, urged the freedmen to support independent institutions, and gained respect from the city's white physicians.
Augusta returned to private practice in Washington, D.C. He was attending surgeon to the Smallpox Hospital in Washington in 1870. He also served on the staff of the local Freedmen's Hospital and was placed in charge of the hospital in 1863, becoming the first black hospital administrator in U.S. history. Augusta taught anatomy in the recently organized medical department at Howard University from November 8, 1868, to July 1877, becoming the first African American appointed faculty of the school and also of any medical college in the U.S. He had received honorary degrees of M.D. in 1869 and A.M. in 1871 from Howard.
Despite his accomplishments, Dr Augusta was repeatedly refused entry to the local society of physicians, an affront that he feared would impede the progress of younger African-American physicians in the city. He died in Washington on December 21, 1890, interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery he is buried in Section 1, Lot 124A, map grid G/33.


                                 BLACK               SOCIAL                 HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                  Marian Anderson February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993 was an African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Music critic Alan Blyth said "Her voice was a rich, vibrant contralto of intrinsic beauty." Most of her singing career was spent performing in concert and recital in major music venues and with famous orchestras throughout the United States and Europe between 1925 and 1965. Although offered roles with many important European opera companies, Anderson declined, as she had no training in acting. She preferred to perform in concert and recital only. She did, however, perform opera arias within her concerts and recitals. She made many recordings that reflected her broad performance repertoire of everything from concert literature to lieder to opera to traditional American songs and spirituals.
Anderson became an important figure in the struggle for black artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. The incident placed Anderson into the spotlight of the international community on a level unusual for a classical musician. With the aid of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. She sang before a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions. Anderson continued to break barriers for black artists in the United States, becoming the first black person, American or otherwise, to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 7, 1955. Her performance as Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi's Un ballo in maschera at the Met was the only time she sang an opera role on stage.
Anderson worked for several years as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and as a "goodwill ambassadress" for the United States Department of State, giving concerts all over the world. She participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, singing at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Anderson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, the National Medal of Arts in 1986, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.

Marian Anderson was born on February 27, 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Berkley Anderson and the former Annie Delilah Rucker. Her father sold ice and coal in downtown Philadelphia at the Reading Terminal and eventually opened a small liquor business as well. Prior to her marriage, Anderson's mother had briefly attended the Virginia Seminary and College in Lynchburg and had worked as a schoolteacher in Virginia. As she did not obtain a degree, Annie Anderson was unable to teach in Philadelphia under a law that was applied only to black teachers and not white ones. She therefore earned an income looking after small children. Marian was the eldest of the three Anderson children. Her two sisters, Alice (later spelled Alyse) (1899–1965) and Ethel (1902–1990), also became singers. Ethel married James DePreist and their late son, James Anderson DePreist was a noted conductor.
Anderson's parents were both devout Christians and the whole family was active in the Union Baptist Church in South Philadelphia. Marian's Aunt Mary (John Berkley's sister) was particularly active in the church's musical life and, noticing her niece's talent, convinced her to join the junior church choir at the age of six. In that role she got to perform solos and duets, often with Aunt Mary who also had a fine voice. Marian was also taken by her aunt to concerts at local churches, the YMCA, and other community music events throughout the city. Anderson credited her aunt's influence as the reason she pursued a singing career. Beginning as young as six, her aunt arranged for Marian to sing for local functions where she was often paid 25 or 50 cents for singing a few songs. As she got into her early teens, Marian began to make as much as four or five dollars for singing; a considerable amount of money for the early 20th century. At the age of 10, Marian joined the People's Chorus under the direction of singer Emma Azalia Hackley, where she was often given solos.
When Marian was 12, her father was accidentally struck on the head while at work at the Reading Terminal, just a few weeks before Christmas of 1909. He died of heart failure a month later at age 34. Marian and her family moved into the home of her father's parents, Grandpa Benjamin and Grandma Isabella Anderson. Her grandfather had been born a slave and had experienced emancipation in the 1860s. He was the first of the Anderson family to settle in South Philadelphia, and when Marian moved into his home the two became very close. He died only about a year after the family moved in.
Anderson attended Stanton Grammar School, graduating in the summer of 1912. Her family, however, could not afford to send her to high school, nor could they pay for any music lessons. Still, Marian continued to perform wherever she could and learn from anyone who was willing to teach her. Throughout her teenage years, Marian remained active in her church's musical activities, now heavily involved in the adult choir. She joined the Baptists' Young People's Union and the Camp Fire Girls which provided her with some limited musical opportunities. Eventually the directors of the People's Chorus and the pastor of her church, Reverend Wesley Parks, along with other leaders of the black community, banded together to help Marian. They raised the money she needed to get singing lessons with Mary S. Patterson and to attend South Philadelphia High School, from which she graduated in 1921.
After high school, Marian applied to an all-white music school, the Philadelphia Music Academy (now University of the Arts), but was turned away because she was black. The woman working the admissions counter replied, "We don't take colored" when she tried to apply. Undaunted, Anderson pursued studies privately with Giuseppe Boghetti and Agnes Reifsnyder in her native city through the continued support of the Philadelphia black community. She met Boghetti through the principal of her high school. Marian auditioned for him singing 'Deep River' and he was immediately brought to tears. In 1925 Anderson got her first big break when she won first prize in a singing competition sponsored by the New York Philharmonic. As the winner she got to perform in concert with the orchestra on August 26, 1925,[4] a performance that scored immediate success with both audience and music critics. Anderson remained in New York to pursue further studies with Frank La Forge. During the time Arthur Judson, whom she had met through the NYP, became her manager. Over the next several years, she made a number of concert appearances in the United States, but racial prejudice prevented her career from gaining much momentum. In 1928, she sang for the first time at Carnegie Hall. Eventually she decided to go to Europe where she spent a number of months studying with Sara Charles-Cahier before launching a highly successful European singing tour.