October 7: This Day in Black History
FEATURED: Ben Ali, founder of Ben’s Chili Bowl
1877: Sargent C. Johnson was born. He was one of the first African-American artists working in California to achieve a national reputation. He was known for Abstract Figurative and Early Modern styles. He was a painter, potter, ceramist, printmaker, graphic artist, sculptor, and carver. He worked with a variety of media, including ceramic, clay, oil, stone, Terra-cotta, watercolor, and wood. He passed in 1967.
1931: Desmond TuTu was born and turns 82 today. He is a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa
1934: Amiri Barka was born. He is a writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays, and music criticism. He turns 79 today.
1941: Tony ‘Champagne’ Sylvester was born. He was a singer and founding member of the group The Main Ingredient. He passed in 2006.
1951: Táta Vega was born. She is a vocalist whose career spans theater, film, and a variety of musical genres. She is 62 today.
1957: The Crests’ first single, “My Juanita,” was released. The record reached #86 pop, earning each of the five group members $17.50.
1957: The Penguins signed with Dootone after stints at Mercury and Atlantic had failed. meanwhile, the Harptones recorded “Cry Like I cried” and the Universals’ incredible “Again” and the Flamingos’ “My Faith in You were released.
1962: Little Richard performed on England’s Thank Your Lucky Stars TV show in his British singing debut.
1966: Smiley Lewis passed away of cancer at age 53. He was a New Orleans R&B musician.
1967: The Staples Singers charted with a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” reaching #66 pop.
1967: Grammy Award winner Toni Braxton was born. She is a R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. She turns 46 today.
1967: ‘Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher & Higher’ by Jackie Wilson was the number one song on this day.
1970: Nicole Ari Parker was born. She is a former fashion model turned actress. She is 43 today.
1973: Priest Holmes was born. He is a former football player who played 11 seasons with the NFL. He is 40 today.
1978: It was reported by Billboard magazine that Marvin Gaye had filed for bankruptcy twice during the year, after having been more than $7 million in the hole.
1978: Alesha Dixon was born. She is an English singer, dancer, rapper, model and television presenter. She found fame in the all-female R&B/garage trio Mis-Teeq. She turns 35 today.
1979: Chaka Khan’s ”I’m Every Woman” charted, rising to become her first of four R&B #1s.
1983: Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus was born. He is a musician, record producer, filmmaker and rapper. He turns 30 today.
1992: Ed Blackwell passed away. He was a jazz drummer born in New Orleans and known for his extensive, influential work with Ornette Coleman.
1993: Toni Morrison became the first African American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
1995: A one-time-only reunion of LaBelle on record resulted in the #1 dance chart hit “Turn It Out” from the film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.
2002: Don Wilson Varner passed away at age 59 of a heart attack. He as a soul, R&B singer and songwriter.
2006: Pioneering columnist & Journalism teacher George McElroy passed. He was the 1st black to ear a master’s degree in journalism from the Univ. of Missouri and the 1st black columnist to write for the Houston Post.
2008: DeWayne McKinney became a successful businessman in Hawaii after serving almost 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. He was killed in a moped accident. He was 47.
2009: The founder of Ben’s Chili Bowl diner Ben Ali passed away. He was 82 years old.
2012: Andrew Brimmer passed away at age 86. He was a former board chairman at Tuskegee University and the longest-serving board member (since 1965) when he retired in 2010. He was also the first black person to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System since its founding in 1913.
2012: Mervyn M. Dymally passed away at age 86. He was a one-time janitor who rose to become the first black to serve in the California Senate (66-74) and the state’s only black lieutenant governor (74-80).