Updated: Nov 4, 2020
While doing the research for our 1st grades son’s Black History Month project a couple weeks ago, I learned that Robert F. Flemming, Jr. created the version of the guitar that we know today. When I put his name in the search engine, hardly anything pops up. And if you Google “Who invented the guitar” Mr. Flemming’s name doesn’t pop up at all. Names for who invented the electric guitar do but none of them are him. It’s amazing! It’s like he was completely erased. If he were not on that list for my son’s school project, I would have never known his name.
It got me to thinking about all the names we have never heard, all the inventions we have never known we should be credited, all the stories we were never told. I love hearing what Dr. King and Rosa Parks have done for us, but What about the thousands of others who have paved our path to where we are now?
I want to know more of those names and 28 days a year (29 on leap years) is just not enough. Black History Month, which began as Negro History Week in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson then transitioned to 1976, is amazing, but we should be educating our children and ourselves all year round about our culture. So, for the next year, for 52 weeks, I am going to share a new name in our history because #BlackFridayEveryFriday. Read, enjoy and pass it own so these names do not disappear!
Week 38: Friday, October 30, 2020
Born: December 9, 1922, St. Louis, MO
Died: October 11, 1991, Los Angeles, CA
Known by his stage name of Redd Foxx, John Elroy Sanford was a famous stand-up comedian and actor best known for his sexually explicit acts in the 50s and 60s while performing at night clubs. Foxx performed on more than 50 records and would be deemed the "King of the Party Records" for his work. In 1972, Foxx was signed as junk dealer named Fred Sanford in a NBC sitcom. While on the set of The Royal Family in 1991, Redd suffered a massive heart attack and passed at the age of 68.
Week 37: Friday, October 23, 2020
Born: July 26, 1972 (age 48), New York City, NY
Korey Wise is now an activist who is well known for advocating for criminal justice reform. Wise travels the country sharing his stories of being wrongfully convicted in the Central Park jogger case that occurred on April 19, 1989 for the attack of then 28-year-old Trisha Meili. Wise was convicted along side Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray Raymond Santana Jr. and Yusef Salaam. The were also convicted of the attacks on eight other people on that night. Wise spent 14 years incarcerated, maintaining his innocence from until he was exonerated in 2002. Wise's net worth is around $15 million.
Week 36: Friday, October 16, 2020
Born: January 26, 1944 (age 76), Birmingham, AL
Angela Yvonne Davis is a political activist, author, philosopher and academic. As a teenager, Davis would attempt to organized interracial study groups, but they were quickly broken up by the local police. In the 60s, she joined several groups, including the Black Panthers. However, Davis spent most of her time working with an all black branch of the Communist Party known as the Che-Lumumba Club. She is now a professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The academic scholar has a net worth of around $800,000.
Week 35: Friday, October 9, 2020
Born: March 18, 1970 (age 50), Newark, NJ
Dana Elaine Owens, better known by her stage name Queen Latifah, is a rapper, singer, songwriter, actress, and producer. Queen Latifah signed with Tommy Boy Records in 1989 and released her first album All Hail the Queen on November 28, 1989, featuring the hit single "Ladies First." The Queen won a Grammy Award in 1994 for Best Solo Rap Performance for "U.N.I.T.Y." and is the Co-founder of Flavor Unit Entertainment. Of all of her roles she has taken on, her personal favorite is still as Cleopatra Sims from the iconic Set It Off film.Latifah's estimated net worth is $65 million.
Week 34: Friday, October 2, 2020
Born: March 7, 1964 (age 56), Portsmouth, VA
Wanda Yvette Sykes is a comedian, actress, and writer. Sykes was first recognized for her work as a writer on The Chris Rock Show. She won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1999 for her efforts on the show. In 2003, Wanda wrote, produced, and starred in Fox's Wanda at Large. Entertainment Weekly named Sykes as one of the 25 funniest people in America in 2004. Wanda Sykes Net Worth: Wanda Sykes has an estimated net worth of around $6 million.
Week 33: Friday, September 25, 2020
Aaron Vincent McGruder
May 29, 1974 (age 46), Chicago, IL
Aaron McGruder is a writer, producer, screenwriter and cartoonist. McGruder is best known for bringing The Boondocks alive with his writing and drawing skills. The Boondocks was a Universal Press Syndicate comic turned animated TV series. McGruder was the creator, executive producer, and head writer of one of the most memorable black culture inspired animated series of recent history. Aaron's estimated net worth of more the $10 million.
Week 32: Friday, September 18, 2020
Born: August 11, 1921,Ithaca, NY
Died: February 10, 1992, Seattle, WA
Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was a writer and the author of the 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family in which ABC adapted into a miniseries. The Roots TV series aired the next year in 1977 and made Alex an instant celebrity. An estimated 130 million viewers watched the last episode of Roots influencing countless Americans to dive into their own family trees and history.
Week 32: Friday, September 11, 2020
Born June 29, 1969 (age 51) Los Angeles, CA
Mark Jordan, better known by his stage name of DJ Pooh is a record producer, rapper, screenwriter, actor and director. He has produced albums for many rappers like LL Cool J and Ice Cube along with many others. DJ Pooh began in film in 1991 by producing the driveby shooting sequence in Boyz n the Hood. He went on in 1995 to help co-write the film Friday with Ice Cube, in which he portrays the character "Red.” His current net worth is reported to be close to $13 million.
Week 31: Friday, September 4, 2020
Born: August 1, 1911, Pittsburgh, PA
Died: December 26, 1985, Chicago, IL
Jackie Ormes is known as the first black woman cartoonist and creator of the Torchy Brown comic strip and the Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger panel. She was known for working between the 1930s and 50s for black newspapers like The Pittsburgh Courier and The Chicago Defender. Torchy gave off an image of a black woman who was dripping in confidence and bravery. Her bravery was see in her cartoon panels. After the death of Emmett Till, a 14 year old black boy who was lynched in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman, Jackie responded in a single-panel comic. It was of a black girl speaking with another saying, "I don't want to seem touchy on the subject... but that new little white tea kettle just whistled at me!"
Week 30: Friday, August 28, 2020
Born: November 29, 1977, Anderson, SC
Died: August 28, 2020, Los Angeles, CA
Chadwick Aaron Boseman was an American actor and producer and known for his roles as several historical figures like James Brown, Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson. But it is his iconic role as the Black Panther in the Marvel Universe that made him a household name and a symbol of the black community for the 21st century. His role won him a Screen Actors Guild Award and a NAACP Image Award. Boseman was worth an estimated $12 million at the time of his death. He passed today after privately dealing with colon cancer for four years. Rest in power, King. #WakandaForever.
Week 29: Friday, August 21, 2020
Bernard Anthony Harris Jr.
Born: June 26, 1956 (age 64), Temple, TX
Bernard Anthony Harris Jr. is a surgeon, astronaut, entrepreneur, and scientist. After failing to qualify for the Astronaut Training Program in 1987, Harris did not give up and applied again in 1990. that didn’t stop him as his second attempt got him selected for the Astronaut Training Program. He is best known for being the first African American to walk in space as Payload Commander for the first joint Russian-American Space Program mission and has travelled over 7.2 million miles in space. Harris earned a Master of Medical Science from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston. His current net worth is about $3.6 million.
Week 28: Friday, August 14, 2020
Born: September 8, 1954 (age 65), Tylertown, MS
Ruby Nell Bridges Hall, at the age of 6, was the first African American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 14, 1960. Bridges was one of many black students chosen to take a test determining if they were smart enough to attend a white school. The test was written to be difficult for them so they would struggle to pass. Though it was not easy, Bridges' parents were informed by the NAACP that Rudy was one of six black students to pass.On the morning of November 14, Rudy was escorted to class by her mother and three U.S. Marshalls because of violent mobs outside of the school. Bridges' action was a huge milestone and step in the right direction for the civil rights movement.
Week 27: Friday, August 7, 2020
Born: August 8, 1866, Nanjemoy, MD
Died: March 9, 1955, Bronx, New York, NY
Matthew Alexander Henson is one of the first few African American explorers and perhaps the first man ever to reach the North Pole claimed on April 6, 1909. He was accompanying a white Us Navy Engineer explorer, Robert Peary. Henson partnered with Peary on seven separate voyages to the Arctic over 23 years. Henson is known for saying, “I think I'm the first man to sit on top of the world.”
Week 26: Friday, July 31, 2020
Born: July 30, 1956 (age 64), Lone Tree, Oklahoma
Anita Faye Hill is a university professor of social policy and women's studies at Brandeis University and as well as a lawyer. Hill is most famously known for her 1991 testimony given to Congress concerning sexual harassment events she shared she'd experienced while aiding Clarence Thomas, a nominee for the Supreme Court. Thomas was Hill's supervisor at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when the alleged events occurred. The scandal raised awareness around workplace harassment and motivated other women to enter politics. Because of the historic number of females elected to congress, 1992 became known as the “Year of the Woman."
Week 25: Friday, July 24, 2020
Born: January 6, 1968, Los Angeles, CA
Died: April 28, 2019, Los Angeles, CA
John Daniel Singleton was a film director, screenwriter, actor and producer. He is known best for writing as well as directing the iconic Boyz n the Hood in 1991. The film would lead him to be the first African American to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. He was only 24-years-old. Singleton based most of his works like Higher Learner, Poetic Justice and Baby Boy, on his life growing up in South Los Angeles. John died at the age of 51 in LA after suffering a stroke. He had a net worth of $35 million at the time of his death.
Week 24: Friday, July 17, 2020
James Byrd Jr.
Born: May 2, 1949, Beaumont, TX
Died: June 7, 1998, Jasper, TX
James Byrd Jr. was a black man who was murdered by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas. Shawn Berry, Lawrence Brewer and John King chained Byrd by his ankles and dragged him for three miles behind a pickup truck along an asphalt road after brutally beating him. James’ brutal murder made national headlines. Two of the assailants were sentenced to death for their crime. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law strengthening penalties for crimes motivated by a victim's race or sexual preference along with a host of other characteristics.
Week 23: Friday, July 10, 2020
Loretta Mary Aiken
Born: March 19, 1894, Brevard, NC
Died: May 23, 1975, White Plains, NY
Loretta Mary Aiken, better known by her stage name of "Moms" Mabley, was a stand-up comedian and actress. Aiken left home at the age of 14 and pursued comedy career when she joined the African American vaudeville circuit under the Theatre Owners Booking Association. Mabley became the first woman comedian to be featured at the Apollo and appeared on their stage more than any other performer.
Week 22: Friday, July 3, 2020
Born: May 17, 1984 (age 36) Chicago, IL
Lena Waithe is an American screenwriter, producer, and actress. Waithe is the creator of the drama series The Chi, Boomerang, and Twenties. Lena also wrote and produced the iconic 2019 crime film Queen and Slim. In 2017, Lena became the first black woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. The writing of the “Thanksgiving” episode of the Master of None Netflix sitcom gained her that Emmy which was loosely based on her coming out story to her mother. Her net worth is around $15 million.
Week 21: Friday, June 26, 2020
George Stinney Jr.
Born: October 21, 1929, Pinewood, SC
Died: June 16, 1944, South Carolina Penitentiary, Columbia, SC
George Junius Stinney Jr., was an African-American child convicted in a 10 minute trial of murdering two white girls, ages 7 and 11, in his hometown of Alcolu, South Carolina. He was executed by electric chair in June 1944 at the age of 14. His conviction was over turned in 2014.
Week 20: Friday, June 19, 2020
June 19, 1948 (age 71), Houston, TX
Phylicia Rashad is an American actress, singer and stage director and a women I look to as my on screen mom is best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. Her memorable role earned her Emmy Award nominations in 1985 and 1986. Rashad graduated from Howard University in 1970 with an undergrad in theater. She was dubbed "The Mother Of The Black Community“ at the 2010 NAACP Image Awards and will forever be my role model. Her current net worth is around $55 million.
Week 19: Friday, June 12, 2020
Born: December 1, 1985 (age 34)
Kansas City, KS
Janelle Monáe Robinson is a singer, songwriter, rapper, and producer but is known best for her outstanding skills as an actress. Janelle Monáe made her big screen debut in the 2016 "Moonlight" film that would later go on to win an Academy Award. She also stared in the biographical drama "Hidden Figures" in the same year. The Boston City Council named October 16, 2013 "Janelle Monáe Day" to recognize her artistry and social leadership. Janelle has a net worth of around $9 million dollars.
Week 18: Friday, June 5, 2020
Clennon Washington King Jr.
Born: July 18, 1020 Dougherty County, GA
Died: February 12, 2000 Miami, FL
Clennon Washington King Jr is known as the first African-American man to run for the office of President of the United States. Because of this, King has carried the nicknamed "The Black Don Quixote." King is also known for his attempts at integration. In 1958, Clennon attempted to integrate his children into an all white Mississippi school. This would have made his children the first if they and King's would not have fled in order to avoid the backlash. King too attempted to continue his education by attempting to enroll in the University of Mississippi, which was an all-white college at the time. He was soon committed to an asylum because of his attempts to attend. The judge believed he must of been mentally ill to believe he would be accept as a student.
Week 17: Friday, May 29, 2020
Born: Fayetteville, NC
Died: May 25, 2020, Minneapolis, MN
George Perry Floyd, 46, was an African-American man who died after a white officer of the Minneapolis Police, Derek Chauvin, refuse to remove his knee from Floyd's neck. His knee remained on Floyd's neck while he was handcuffed and face down in the street for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. During that time, 2 minutes and 53 seconds was after Floyd became visibility unresponsive. The violent arrest was caught on cell phone footage by a witness. The video show's Floyd repeatingly stating "don't kill me," and "I can't breathe." George was the father of two girls, ages 22 and six.
Week 16: Friday, May 22, 2020
Born: February 20, 1984 (age 36)
Trevor Noah is a television host, political commentator, and comedian. Noah was born South Africa to a black South African mother and a white European father. Noah has hosted countless TV shows that includeTonight with Trevor Noah as well as hosting the television, film and music awards in South Africa. As well as being a well known TV personality, Trevor released his first book in November of 2016 entitled Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood which became a New York Times bestseller. Currently, Trevor is the host of Comedy Central's news platform called The Daily Show. Trevor Noah's net worth is estimated to be around $30 Million dollars.
Week 15: Friday, May 15, 2020
Born: December 21, 1953, Miami, FL
Died: May 10, 2020, Miami, FL
Bessie Regina Norris, better known by her stage name of Betty Wright, was a R&B singer, background vocalist, producer and songwriter. Betty's career started in the 60s as a teen but it really took off started in the 1970s. Wright is best known for hits like Tonight is the Night, No Pain, Clean Up Woman and After The Pain. As a songwriter and producer, Betty gained a number of credits working with big names like Erykah Badu, Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Stevie Wonder. At the time of her passing, Betty Wright's net worth was around $5 Million.
Week 14: Friday, May 8, 2020
Born: December 1, 1940, Peoria, IL
Died: December 10, 2005, Encino, Los Angeles, CA
Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor was a stand-up comedian, writer and actor. Richard unfortuntely experienced rape at the age of six by a teenaged neighbor and molestation by a Catholic priest during catechism being raised in his grandmother's brothel. He escaped the traumatic of his childhood through comedy allowing others to laugh at his pain. Pryor is regarded in the Black community as one of the greatest and most influential stand-up comedians in history. At the time of his death in 2005, Richard Pryor had an estimated net worth of about $40 million.
Week 13: Friday, May 1, 2020
Coretta Scott King
Born: April 27, 1927, Heiberger, AL
Died: January 30, 2006, Rosarito, Mexico
Mrs. Coretta Scott King was more than the mother of four children and the wife to one of the most well-known activist for the black community, Dr. Martin L. King Jr., but she was also a civil rights leader, author and activist and an advocate for African-American equality. Mrs. King was also a singer who used her voice in her civil rights efforts in the 60s. Coretta earned a undergrad degree in music and education from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She went on to study concert singing at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music and receiving a degree in voice and violin. Boston is where she met her future husband, Dr. King. Mrs. Coretta devoted her life to raising her children while leveling time with her mission in the movement by speaking at colleges, churches and other groups dedicated to bring peace to the African American community.
Week 12: Friday, April 24, 2020
Born:September 26, 1981 (age 38)
Serena Jameka Williams is a professional tennis player as well once being ranked as the world's number one in women's single tennis. While Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan she was raised in Compton, California. She is the youngest of five daughters. Serena has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles in her life so far, which is the most won by any woman or man, in the Open Era. She has also acheieved 3 French Opens, 6 U.S. Opens, 7 Australian Opens, 7 Wimbledon titles, four Olympic gold medals, 23 doubles titles, and a career Golden Slam. Serena, and her older sister Venus, were taught how to play tennis by their father, a sharecropper from Louisiana, using videos and books about the sport. Her net worth is about $180 million.
Week 11: Friday, April 17, 2020
Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion
Born: October 20, 1971 (age 48)
Long Beach, CA
Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg, is a rapper, songwriter, actor, producer, and entrepreneur. His mother is behind his nickname because she thought he looked like Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon. Snoop's music career took off in 1992 when Dr. Dre discovered him and featured on Dre's debut album The Chronic. In 2012, Snoop announced to the world that he would be dropping the "Dogg" from his name and replacing it with "Lion" after vacationing in Jamaica where a priest told him: "You are the light, you are the lion." The 6 foot 4 inch tall musician's current net worth is $135 million.
Week 10: Friday, April 10, 2020
Robert L. Johnson
Born: April 8, 1946 (age 74)
Robert Louis Johnson is an investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. The Princeton graduate is the co-founder of Black Entertainmaninment Television (BET),the first cable television network aimed to entertain the African-Americans community which launched in 1980. In 2001, Robert became the first black billionaire after selling BET Viacom for $3 billion. Currently, he has a net worth of about $550 million.
Week 9: Friday, April 3, 2020
Born: August 16, 1958 (age 61)
New York, NY
Angela Evelyn Bassett is an American actress and activist known most notably for her performance asTina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It in 1993. Her current net worth is $20 million. Bassett supports programs for the arts, especially for youth. She attends events for children with diabetes and those in foster care.On Aug. 25, she was given the highest honor at the 2019 Black Girls Rock Awards. During her acceptance, Bassett stated “My purpose as a Black woman, as an actress, has always been to portray excellence on the screen, to be proud, unapologetic and without regret.”
Week 8: Friday, March 27, 2020
Born: March 14, 1933 (age 87)
Quincy Delight Jones Jr. is an American record producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, arranger, and film and television producer. he has a 60 year long career in the entertainment industry and a record 80 Grammy Award nominations, 28 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award in 1992. His current net worth is $400 million.
Week 7: Friday, March 20, 2020
Madam C. J. Walker
Born: December 23, 1867, Delta, LA
Died: May 25, 1919 Irvington, NY
Madam C. J. Walker, born as Sarah Breedlove, was the inventor of a line of African American products to help with maintaining their hair. She decided to go into this business after hair loss from scalp ailment. The American entrepreneur is known as the first female self-made millionaire. She died of hypertension at the age of 51. At her death, she had a net worth of $600,000 which would be equal to more than $8.9 million in 2020.
Week 6: Friday March 13, 2020
Hiram Rhodes Revels
Born: September 27, 1827, Fayetteville, NC
Died: January 16, 1901, Aberdeen, MS
Hiram Rhodes Revels was a born-free Republican U.S. Senator, college administrator and a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Revels worked in Ohio, where he voted before the Civil War. He was the first African American man to serve in the U.S. Congress where he argued mostly for racial equality. Revels served for just one year before leaving Congress to become the president of a historically black college, Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College, in Mississippi.
Week 5: Friday, March 6, 2020
Born: June 7, 1958, Minneapolis, MN
Died: April 21, 2016, Paisley Park, Chanhassen, MN
Prince Rodger Nelson was an American songwriter, singer, musician, record producer, dancer, filmmaker, and actor. Prince was married to Manuela Testolini from 2001–2006 and Mayte Garcia from 1996 to 2000. He fathered only one son with Mayte Garcia, Amiir Nelson, who was born in 1996. Sadly, Amiir died 7 days after birth due to complications from Pfeiffer syndrome type 2. Prince is best known for top hits like Purple Rain, When Doves Cry and Little Red Corvette. A guitar virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist known for his genre-crossing work, wide-ranging singing voice, and flamboyant stage appearances, he is regarded as one of the greatest musicians in the history of pop music. Prince is said to have a net worth of about $300 million in death.
Week 4: Friday, February 28, 2020 Langston Hughes
Born: February 1, 1902, Joplin, MO
Died: May 22, 1967, Stuyvesant Polyclinic
The great poet, Langston Hughes, is known best as the leader of the “Harlem Renaissance” and was first published in 1921 in The Crisis. This was the the official magazine of the NAACP. He publish his first novel in 1930 and established a theatre troupe in L.A. in 1935. Some academics believe that Hughes was homosexual and included some codes in many of his poems. The primary biographer of Langston, shared that Hughes showed a preference towards Black men in his life and in some of his bodies of work. He died in May of 1967, Hughes died in NYC from complications after surgery related to prostate cancer. Hughes has an approximate net worth of between $1 million and $5 million.
Week 3: Friday, February 21, 2020
Latasha "Tasha" Harlins
Born: July 14,1975, East St. Louis, Illinois
Died: March 16, 1991, Los Angeles, California
Tasha Harlins, 15, was fatally shot by a 51-year-old Korean-born female name Soon Ja Du who was an owner of a convenience store. Harlins was shot after a physical dispute with Du when the store owner accused her of attempting to steal orange juice. You can view the video here but be advised of its graphic nature. Witnesses stated that Harlins was attempting to pay when she was prejudged because of her race. Harlins was killed only 13 days after the videoing of brutal beating of Rodney King. Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Harlins' death. She was sentenced to time served, five years of probation, 400 hours of community service was to be completed, a $500 restitution fine, and she had to cover funeral expenses.
Week 2: Friday, February 14, 2020
Henry "Box" Brown
Born: 1816, Louisa County, VA
Died: 1897, Toronto, Canada
Henry Box Brown in 1849, at the age of 33, escaped to freedom by mailing himself in a wooden create from Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where slavery had been abolished. Brown traveled in the created labeled "dry goods" for 27 hours before arriving at the headquarters of the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society.
Week 1: Friday, February 7, 2020
Born: November 9, 1923, Albany, GA
Died: July 14, 2014, Albany, GA
History was made when Alice Coachman became the first black woman to win a gold medal during the 1948 Olympics in London, England. Coachman changed the world when she broke the high jump record at 5 feet, 6 and 1/8 inches. When she passed, Alice had an approximate net worth of $1 - $5 million.