July 8: This Day in Black History
FEATURED: Nat King Cole
1805: Bill Richmond, the first African American to distinguish himself as a prizefighter, knocked out boxer Jack Holmes in a match in England.
1908: Louis Jordan, considered to be the father of rhythm and blues—-was born today. With his Tympany 5 (which actually had nine members) Jordan became the opening act for the Mills Brothers in 1938. His innovative and humorous style led him to become the most popular R&B recording act of the ’40s, with fifty-seven hits between 1942 and 1951. His jump blues and jazz fusion paved the way for R&B’s influence on rock ‘n’ roll.
1914: Legendary Jazz singer and bandleader during the swing era Billy Eckstine was born. He passed away in 1993.
1923: William Harrison “Bones” Dillard was born. He is a former track and field athlete, the only male so far to win Olympic titles in both sprinting and hurdling events. He turns 90 years old today.
1938: Julia Carson was born. She was a member of the United States House of Representatives for Indiana’s 7th congressional district from 1997 until her death in 2007. She was the first woman and first African American to represent the 7th District. She was also the second African American woman elected to Congress from Indiana.
1943: Faye Wattleton was born. She is the first African-American and youngest president ever elected to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and is also the first woman since Margaret Sanger to hold the position. She turns 71 today.
1950: Nat King Cole entered the R&B hit-list with one of his best-loved recordings, “Mona Lisa,” reaching #1 for four weeks and topping the pop charts for eight.
1960: Valarie Pettiford was born. She is a stage and television actress, dancer and jazz singer. She turns 54 today.
1963: Little Stevie Wonder performed “Fingertips, Part 2 on American Bandstand.
1965: NAACP elected Roy Wilkins as their new executive director on this day.
1967: Actor Marcus Chong was born. His best-known roles are as Tank the Operator in The Matrix, and before that, Huey P. Newton in the 1995 Mario Van Peebles movie Panther. He turns 46 today.
1972: “If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right” by Luther Ingram was the number one song this day.
1972: The O’Jays charted with “Backstabbers,” reaching #1 R&B and #3 pop.
1991: Blues singer and drummer Willie Nix passed away. He was 68 years old.
1995: TLC’s “Waterfalls” reached #1 pop for seven weeks and #4 R&B. It was the trio’s second of four #1s, including “Creep,” “No Scrubs,” and “Unpretty.”
2001: Venus Williams won her second straight Wimbledon Women’s Singles Championship.
2007: Charles Tisdale passed away. He was the owner and publisher of Mississippi’s oldest black-owned newspaper who fought for civil rights. Tisdale purchased the Jackson Advocate in 1978 from its first owner, Percy Green. He was 80 years old.
2009: Award-winning playwright and a film and TV writer Judi Ann Mason passed away. She launched her TV career on the ‘70s sitcom Good Times and later co-wrote the 1993 movie comedy Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. She died of a ruptured aorta en route to UCLA Medical Center. She was 54 years old.
2010: Former NBA player and all-American Kentucky center, Mel Turpin passed away. He reportedly suffered from diabetes. He died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 49.
2012: John Williams passed away. He was a Los Angeles Rams lineman in the ‘70s who went to dental school during his off-seasons and started a dentistry practice in Minneapolis after he retired from football. He was 66 years old.