Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County NAACP (Branch 7092)
P.O. Box 6044
Christiansburg, Virginia 24068
(540)382-6751

May
May 1, 1950
Gwendolyn Brooks, poet, first Black awarded a Pulitzer Prize (poetry) in 1950.
Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas but grew up in Chicago. She is a witty poet who satirizes blacks and whites and attacks racial discrimination. She uses black language and rituals to proclaim black solidarity.


May 2, 1844
Elijah Mc Coy, master inventor, holder of over 50 patents and source of the phrase "the real Mc Coy" born



May 3, 1921
Walker Smith Junior was born on May 3, 1921 in Alley, Georgia.



May 4, 1961
Thirteen Freedom riders began bus trip through South



May 5, 1969
Moneta Sleet becomes the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. and her daughter at her husband's funeral



May 6, 1931
Baseball great Willie Howard Mays was born in Westfield, Alabama. Mays played with both the New York and San Francisco Giants. He was National League batting champion four times and twice the league's Most Valuable Player.



​May 7, 1867
Black demonstrators staged ride-in to protest segregation on New Orleans streetcars. Similar demonstrations occurred in Mobile, Ala., and other cities.



May 8, 1969
Carole Anne-Marie Gist, the first African American woman to win the Miss USA title, was born on May 8, 1969 in Detroit, Michigan.



​May 9, 1931
Phillippa Duke Schuyler was a child pianist, composer, and later journalist. Schuyler, born August 2, 1931, grew up in Harlem, and was the only child of George S. Schuyler, a prominent black journalist, and Josephine Cogdell, a white Texan from a wealthy and socially prominent family. Her parents were not Harlem civil rights crusaders, but rather conservatives and members of the John Birch society, who believed that interracial marriage and the resulting children could solve America’s race issue. They also fed Phillippa a strict raw food diet, believing that cooking removed all of the vital nutrients from food. By playing Mozart at the age of four and scoring 185 on an IQ test at the age of five, Phillippa quickly proved to her parents and the world that she was a child prodigy. 
Phillippa began giving piano recitals and radio broadcasts as child, and with the help of her journalist father she quickly attracted an enormous amount of press coverage.  In 1940 when she was nine, Phillippa became the subject of "Evening with a Gifted Child," a profile written by Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker, who heard several of her early compositions. Phillippa’s mother kept her isolated from other children by exclusively relying on tutors for her education. At the age of 13, Phillippa’s delusions and memories of her happy childhood were permanently tarnished when she stumbled across her mother’s scrapbook which described in detail how her parents thought of her as a genetic experiment. These feelings plagued Phillippa for the remainder of her life, and motivated her desire to travel, write, and play, so that she could find her place in the world. 
She plunged herself into her music, and once she outgrew the child prodigy years she struggled to find a place in the American music community. On tour, especially in the South, she began to experience racial prejudice, something of which she had been mostly unaware during her sheltered upbringing. In order to continue to perform and make money, she became a world traveler, eventually visiting over 80 countries. Her world travels did not abate her sense of alienation from her native country and her parents and as a young woman Schuyler changed her name to Felipa Monterro and began to pass as white. 
By her thirties, those world travels spawned her interest in journalism and afforded her fluency in numerous languages.  Those travels placed her in dramatic locales at important moments of history.  In 1960, for example, she was one of the few American journalists in Leopoldville (later Kinshasa), The Congo, to cover its independence.  Through the 1960s she would author several books based on her experiences in world travel. Phillippa Schuyler died in a helicopter crash on May 9, 1967, when she, while working as a Vietnam War correspondent, attempted to evacuate a number of Vietnamese orphans threatened by an impending Viet Cong guerilla attack.  Schuyler was 36. 




May 10, 1950
Jackie Robinson appears on the cover of Life magazine; first time an African American is featured on the cover in the magazine's 13 year history



May 11, 1965
Blacks held mass meeting in Norfolk (Va.) and demanded equal rights and ballots. Other equal rights meetings and conventions were held in Petersburg, Va., June 6; Vicksburg, Miss., June 19; Alexandria, Va., August 3; Nashville, Tenn., August 7-11; Raleigh, N.C., September 29-October 3; Richmond, September 18; Jackson, Miss., October 7.



May 12, 1957
Ertharin Cousin, a diplomat and leading advocate for ending global hunger, was born on May 12, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois to Anne Cousin, who worked in social services, and her husband Julius Cousin, who was a property owner and community development activist.

Cousin grew up on the West Side of Chicago. She received her B.A. (1979) from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Juris Doctorate (1982) from the University of Georgia Law School, focusing on international law, and studying under former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk. 

Upon completion of her law degree, Cousin returned to Chicago, where from 1983 to 1993 she held several positions including Assistant Attorney General and Western Regional Office Director for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office; Deputy Director at the Chicago Board of Ethics; and Director of Government Affairs for AT & T.

In 1993 Cousin became Deputy Chief of Staff for the DemocraticNational Committee (DNC) and the following year joined the Clinton Administration as White House Liaison at the State Department (1994-1996). She returned to Illinois to run the state Clinton-Gore Re-Election Campaign (1996).  In 1997 President Clinton appointed Cousin to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, which advises the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on agriculture issues pertinent to food insecurity in developing countries. She served in that capacity until 2000.

Simultaneously, Cousin worked in the private retail food sector serving as Vice President for Government and Community Affairs for Jewel Food Stores (1997-1999) and held the same position when the company was acquired by Albertson Foods in 1999. In 2001 she was promoted to Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at Albertsons, serving until 2004.  During this time, Cousin also served as the President of the company’s corporate foundation, responsible for its philanthropic activities which included feeding the poor and hungry. 

In 2004 Cousin joined the nation’s largest domestic-based hunger relief organization, Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks across the United States where she was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (2004-2006). Cousin helped the organization raise its annual revenue from $20 million to $56 million.  She also led the non-profit’s response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster as Feeding America distributed more than 62 million pounds of food across the Gulf Coast region in 2005.

In 2009 President Barack Obama nominated Cousin to be U.S. Representative to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture based in Rome, Italy, with rank of Ambassador. After Senate confirmation, Ambassador Cousin travelled to Rome and led the U.S. efforts to help the U.N. eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.   

Ambassador Cousin traveled to the world’s most impoverished countries to help guide efforts to increase local food production.  She also led the U.N. effort to bring food relief to Haiti after the massive earthquake there in 2010.  Ambassador Cousin became Executive Director of the U.N.’s World Food Program in 2012. There she leads a staff of nearly 13,500 people serving more than 90 million persons in need in 80 countries around the world. 

Cousin’s contributions to domestic and global campaigns against poverty and hunger were recognized in her hometown when the City of Chicago named September 9, 2009 (the day she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate) as “Ambassador Ertharin Cousin Day.” Later, Time magazine named her one of its 100 Most Influential People in 2014 and Forbes magazine ranked her as #47 on its list of “Most Powerful Women” in 2015. 

Ambassador Cousin is divorced with one son, Maurice.





May 13, 1966
DariusRucker was born on May 13, 1966 in Charleston, South Carolina.



May 14, 1961
Bus with first group of Freedom Riders bombed and burned by segregationists outside Anniston, Alabama. Group was attacked in Anniston and Birmingham.


May 15,1946
Camilla Williams, the African American woman to sign a contract with a major American opera company appears in the title role of Madama Butterfly with the New York City Opera.



May 16, 1929
John Conyers, Jr. was born on May 16, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan.  He attended public schools and graduated in 1947 from Northwestern High School.  After high school, he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the United Automobile Workers Union  (UAW).  Conyers worked for the Lincoln Car Factory, where he became a director of education for UAW Local 900.
Conyers enlisted in the United States Army in August 1950 and became a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.  He was discharged from the army in 1954 after seeing combat in the Korean War.
Conyers returned to Wayne Sate University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957, and a Juris Doctor degree in 1958 from Wayne State University’s School of Law.  After passing the bar in 1959 Conyers began practicing law in his hometown, Detroit, Michigan.  
His brief stint in private practice was interrupted in 1958 when he became a legislative assistant to Fifteenth District Michigan Congressman John Dingell, Jr.  Conyers worked for Dingell until 1961 and then became a referee for the Michigan Workmen’s Compensation Department.  With the support of Congressman Dingell, 35-year-old John Conyers was elected to the United States Congress in 1964, representing Michigan’s Fourteenth Congressional District.     
In 1971 Conyers was one of the thirteen founders of the Congressional Black Caucus.  In 1974 he achieved notoriety as a member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee that brought charges against then President Richard Nixon.  He also introduced the legislation in 1983 that created the Dr. Martin Luther King national holiday.  John Conyers, Jr. continues to serve in Congress until this day and is the second most senior representative in that body.  Currently he chairs the House Judiciary Committee.  He is married to the former Monica Esters and they have two children, John III and Carl Edward.
Univ



May 17, 1988
Dr. Patricia E. Bath of Los Angeles, a renowned ophthalmologist and Black woman, patented (1988) an apparatus that efficiently removes cataracts by using laser technology.


May 18, 1962
Ernie Davis, star running back at Syracuse University; first black player to win the Heisman Trophy in 1961. Died on May 18, 1962 of leukemia before playing a pro game.



May 19, 1925
His birth name was Malcolm Little and he was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska to Louise and Earl Little.



May 20, 1961
Mob attacked Freedom Riders in Montgomery. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy dispatched four hundred U.S. marshals to Montgomery to keep order in Freedom Rider controversy.



May 21, 1959
Attorney and public prosecutor Loretta Elizabeth Lynch was born on May 21, 1959 in Greensboro, North Carolina.



May 22, 1902
Poet, novelist, playwright, librettist, essayist, and translator, James Mercer Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri on Februray 1, 1902 to parents Caroline (Carrie) Mercer Langston, a school teacher, and James Nathaniel Hughes, an attorney. His parents separated before Langston was born and he spent his preadolescent years with his maternal grandmother, Mary Patterson Langston, in Lawrence, Kansas.  Mary Langston was the second wife of Charles Henry Langston, a major black political activist in Kansas, and the sister-in-law of former U.S. Congressman John Mercer Langston. After his grandmother’s death, Caroline married Homer Clark, a steel mill worker in Lincoln, Illinois. The couple settled in Cleveland, Ohio with Langston and his younger brother, Gwyn. 

Hughes was fiercely independent from an early age. When his mother and brother followed his stepfather who occassionally left the family in search of higher wages, Langston stayed in Cleveland to finish high school. He also had a volatile relationship with his attorney father who pursued work in Cuba and who by 1920 was general manager of an American company in Mexico. Langston Hughes joined his father in Mexico City briefly in 1919, moved back to Cleveland to complete high school, and then upon receiving his diploma in 1920, returned to Mexico City.
Rather than acquiesce to his domineering father’s demands that he pursue a degree in mining engineering, Langston moved to New York City, New York and enrolled in Columbia University. Hughes quit Columbia after a year and decided to acquire a more worldly education. In 1922, he began a two-year stint as a ship crewman, during which he traveled to, and spent considerable time in, western Africa, France, and Italy. He also briefly lived in the expatriate community in London, Englandbefore returning to the United States in November 1924 to live with his mother in Washington, D.C.  While there in 1925 he became the personal assistant of historan Carter G. Woodson, the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.  
In 1926, Hughes he enrolled in Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) and earned a liberal arts degree in 1930. His classmates included Thurgood Marshall, a future U.S. Supreme Court justice. While there he joned Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Even while in college Hughes returned often to Harlem where he became a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes deeply believed that black art should represent the experiences and culture of the black “folk.” Images of rural and urban working-class African Americans filled his poetry and prose and his writing celebrated blues and jazz culture. Some of his more famous writing associated with the Harlem Renaissance include the collections of poems, The Weary Blues (1926) and Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927); the novel Not Without Laughter (1930); and the essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926). 

Hughes was also a politically engaged writer. During the 1930s, he wrote plays highlighting the injustice of the Scottsboro case and the imprisonment of the black Communist organizer, Angelo Herndon. In 1932 he was among a group of prominent black intellectuals who traveled to the Soviet Union to participate in an ultimately aborted film about black workers in the U.S. After realizing the film would not be made Hughes decided to use the opportunity to travel across the Soviet Union to learn more about the world's first Communist nation. During his travels he spend a brief period in Turkmenistan (then part of the Soviet Union but now an independent nation) before traveling on to China and Japan. Between 1934 and 1935 Hughes lived in California where he completed one novel and co-wrote the screenplay for the Hollywood film, Way Down South.
In 1937 Hughes spent several months in Spain during its civil war, as a correspondent for the Baltimore Afro-American and a supporter of the anti-fascist forces. Even though Hughes began to distance himself from the left after World War II, he was enveloped by the anti-communist hysteria of the Cold War era and testified before Joseph McCarthy in 1953.
Over his career Hughes wrote sixteen books of poetry, twelve novels and short stories, and eight children's books.  His honors and awards included a Guggenheim Fellowship (1934), Rosenwald Fellowship (1941), the Ainsfield-Wolf Book Award (1954), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Spingarn Award (1960).  
By the early 1940 Hughes ceased his peripatetic lifestyle and settled permanently in Harlem. He continued however to write and interact with fellow Harlem Renaissance writers such as Arna Bontemps as well as younger writers he sought to encourage such as Alice Walker, almost up to his death in Harlem on May 22, 1967 at the age of 65.  James Mercer Langston Hughes' ashes are interred beneth a floor medallion in the foyer of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. 




May 23, 1918
Robert "Bumps" Blackwell was a musician, producer, and composer who worked with the top names in early jazz and rock and roll.  Blackwell was born in Seattle, Washington on May 23, 1918.  By the late 1940s his Seattle-based "Bumps Blackwell Junior Band" featured Ray Charles and Quincy Jones, and played with artists like Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, and Billy Eckstine. He moved to Los Angeles, California in the early 1950s and hired on with Art Rupe's Specialty Records. 

In 1955, Blackwell flew to New Orleans, Louisiana to record Little Richard (Richard Penniman), a singer who they hoped would become the next Nat King Cole. During a break in the tepid recording session everybody headed to a nearby bar where Mr. Penniman started banging out an obscene club song on the piano. "Daddy Bumps" knew he had a hit so he brought in a local songwriter to clean up the lyrics. "Tutti-Frutti, good booty" became "Tutti Frutti, all rootie," and Little Richard became a star. Bumps wrote or co-wrote other early rock hits including "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Long Tall Sally," and "Rip It Up." 

Blackwell produced the hit "You Send Me" against Rupe's wishes.  Rupe feared Sam Cooke's crossover from gospel to pop would hurt the sales of his gospel records. Rupe fired Bumps who then took Cooke and his recording cross town to Keen Records where it became the first #1 hit by a solo black artist. He went on to garner 17 Gold Records while producing a variety of artists including Sly Stone, Lou Rawls, the Fifth Dimension, the Chambers Brothers, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, the Coasters, Ike and Tina Turner and Bob Dylan. 

Blackwell taught his artists the business side of music, "because I don't want my pupils to be unprepared like I was, like [Little] Richard was, like we all were." The Blackwell International Academy of the Performing Arts was opened after his death in 1985.




May 24, 1982
DaMarcus Beasley is a retired professional soccer player. He was born on May 24, 1982 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He played soccer in high school and also participated in the 1999 under 17 soccer World Cup held in New Zealand. His outstanding performance won him the prestigious silver ball award for being the second highest scoring player in the tournament. He joined a private athletic training institute called the IMG Academy, which was based in Florida. He also played in the under 20 team at the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship held in Argentina. In March 1999, he joined the Major Soccer League (MLS), having been signed by the team Los Angeles Galaxy. However, he was soon transferred to the Chicago Fire. His performance with them was top notch, and he was named to the Best XI team in 2003. He spent more than four seasons with them, scoring six goals in 13 Champions’ League games which gained him much praise and acclaim.
In July 2004, he was transferred to a Dutch team called PSV Eindhoven. He signed a 4 year contract worth $2.5 million. In his first season with PSV, he helped them win the league title. In another match, he scored a last minute goal to tie a match against a rival team which PSV then won on penalty shootouts. DaMarcus Beasley also became the first American to play in the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League, and scored 4 goals in 12 games. In August 2006, he joined an English soccer team called Manchester City F.C., to whom he was transferred on a loan. He helped his team to win against West Ham United by scoring a goal in the 83rd minute of play. In 2005, he was a finalist for “U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year” award.
In June 2007, he moved to a Scottish club called Rangers F.C. for a lucrative deal worth £700,000, being only the second American to play for them. He helped his team win an important match in the Champions’ League group stage for which he was awarded the Man of the Match trophy. However, he was injured shortly after in an on field collision with the goalkeeper. During one of his matches he was subjected to racist remarks by fans, due to which he complained to UEFA and FIFA to control fan behavior. He was part of the winning squad of the Scottish Premier League title but was not awarded a medal as the minimum requirement was appearing in at least 25% of the games, which he did not fulfill. In 2010, Beasley signed a 2 year contract with Hannover, and in 2014 he joined the MLS team “Houston Dynamo”.



May 25, 1926
Miles Davis, U.S. jazz trumpeter and composer, born.


May 26, 1949
Born on this day in Winston-Salem, N.C., USA. Pamala Suzette Grier is one of the most important African American actresses of the 1970s


May 27, 1958
Ernest Green graduated from Little Rock's Central High School with six hundred white classmates.



May 28 ​, 1944
Gladys Maria Knight is an American Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress, and humanitarian. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 28, 1944, to Sarah and Merald Knight Sr. and began singing in church as a child. At age seven, she gained minor fame after winning a performance contest on the televised “Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour.” In 1953 Knight, her brother Merald Jr., her sister Brenda, and their cousins Eleanor and William Guest formed a musical act called The Pips. Brenda Knight and Eleanor Guest both left the group to get married and were replaced by Edward Patten and Langston George. By 1960 The Pips had begun to perform and tour on a regular basis. 

Knight and The Pips first experienced major success after signing with Motown Records in 1966 and began touring with The Supremes as an opening act. While at Motown, Knight and The Pips produced several major hits including, “I Heard It through the Grapevine,” “If I Were Your Woman,” and “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).” She was responsible for sending the Jackson 5’s first demo tape to Motown Records after seeing them perform at “Amateur Night” at the Apollo Theater in August of 1967. 

In 1973 Knight and The Pips left Motown Records and signed with Buddah Records and enjoyed major success with several top-charting hits including “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “On and On,” “I've Got to Use My Imagination,” and “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” Knight and The Pips continued to produce major hit songs until the late 1980s. Her humanitarian work includes her collaboration with Dionne Warwick, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder in 1986 for the iconic AIDS benefit anthem “That’s What Friends Are For.” 

Knight decided to branch out and pursue a solo career in 1989. Throughout the 1990s, Knight continued to tour and record successful R&B and gospel music. In 1996 Gladys Knight and The Pips were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio. Additionally, Knight has been honored with numerous Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards, and Soul Train Awards.

In addition to music, Knight established a steady acting career, appearing in several television series and films. In 1985 she starred opposite Flip Wilson in the CBS sitcom “Charlie and Co.” She also appeared on season 14 of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Knight has had four marriages and three children. She married her first husband, musician James Newman Sr. in 1960. The couple had two children, a son James Jr. and daughter Kenya. Knight and Newman divorced in 1973. One year later, Knight married music producer Barry Hankerson. They had one son, Shanga Hankerson but divorced in 1981. In 1995, Knight married author and motivational speaker Les Brown. However, in 1997, after two years of marriage, the couple divorced. During that same year, Knight joined The Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). Knight sought to inject soul music into Mormon praise music. This led her to create and direct the Grammy Award-winning LDS Mormon choir known as Saints Unified Voices. In 2001 Knight married her fourth husband, corporate consultant William McDowell.   

In addition to music and acting, Knight has invested in several businesses including a successful chain of chicken and waffle restaurants. She and her husband reside in Nevada where she currently serves as a judge on BET’s “Apollo Live.”





May 29 ​, 1851
Sojourner Truth delivers her infamous "Ain't I A Woman?" speech to the Ohio Women's Rights Convention.



May 30 ​,1943
Gale Sayers, youngest player ever to be elected to the Football Hall of Fame, born





May 31, 1924
Patricia Roberts Harris was born on May 31, 1924 in Mattoon, Illinois. She excelled academically and received a scholarship to Howard University. During her time at Howard, Roberts was elected Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1945. While she was in college Roberts participated in civil rights protests in Washington, D.C. In 1943, she took part in one of the earliest student sit-ins at a whites-only cafeteria.  While at Howard, Roberts served as Assistant Director for the American Council of Human Rights.  In 1955 she married William Harris, a Howard University law professor.

Patricia Roberts Harris received a law degree from George Washington University in 1960.  She graduated number one in her class and was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Harris worked briefly for the U.S. Department of Justice and was appointed co-chair of the National Women’s Committee for Civil Rights by President John F. Kennedy. A year later, she returned to Howard as an associate dean of students while lecturing occasionally at the university’s law school. 

Harris gave the seconding address for Lyndon Johnson’s nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1964.  The next year President Johnson appointed her as the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.  Harris returned to Howard in 1967, and two years later was named Dean of Howard University’s School of Law. She resigned a month later when Howard University President James E. Cheek refused to support her strong stand against student protests.

In 1977 Harris was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to become the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in his cabinet.   During the confirmation hearings she was challenged repeatedly by Republican senators who questioned her ability to represent the interests of the poor. Her reply was: “You do not seem to understand who I am. I am a black woman, the daughter of a dining car waiter. I am a black woman who could not buy a house eight years ago in parts of the District of Columbia. I didn’t start out as a member of a prestigious law firm, but as a woman who needed a scholarship to go to school. If you think that I have forgotten that, you are wrong.” 

Harris persuaded her critics and became the first African American woman to direct a Federal department. In 1980, Harris was appointed Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW).  Two years later, Patricia Roberts Harris was selected as a permanent professor at the George Washington National Law Center. She held that position until she died of breast cancer on March 23, 1985.