Progressive – used for describing music that tries new or unusual ideas
Ray Charles Robinson was born September 23, 1930 in Albany, Georgia. He is considered a pioneer of soul music, integrating R&B, gospel, and country to create hits. He is easily considered one of the greatest artists of all time.
Ray Charles went blind by the age of 7, after witnessing his brother drowning to death, he gradually began losing his sight. His mother sent him to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Eventually, he learned to read, write, and arrange music in braille. He also learned to play the piano, organ, saxophone, clarinet, and trumpet.
In 1961, Charles was set to perform at Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Georgia but cancelled the show after learning from students at Paine College (a historically black college) that the auditorium would be segregated. He was sued for breach of contract by the promoter, but later performed at a desegregated Bell Auditorium concert.
In 1979, Ray Charles was one of the first musicians born in the state to be inducted into the Georgia State Music Hall of Fame. His version of “Georgia on My Mind” has been made the official state song for Georgia.
“My version of ‘Georgia’ became the state song of Georgia. That was a big thing for me, man. It really touched me. Here is a state that used to lynch people like me suddenly declaring my version of a song as its state song. That is touching.” – Ray Charles
“I never wanted to be famous. I only wanted to be great.” – Ray Charles
Innovative – featuring new methods; advanced and original.
Garrett A. Morgan paved the way for African American inventors. Some of his patents included a hair-straightening product, a breathing device, and an improved traffic signal. In fact, his respiratory device provided the blueprint for gas masks used in World War I.
In 1916, the city of Cleveland was drilling a tunnel under Lake Eerie, workers hit a natural gas pocket resulting in a huge explosion. The explosion trapped workers underground in the fumes. When Morgan found out, he and his brother put on breathing devices. They were able to save two lives and recover four bodies before their rescue mission was called off. Unfortunately, after this, people refused to buy Mr. Morgan’s products when they realized he was black due to the publicity of the rescue.
Garrett Morgan still decided to focus on fixing problems. He started focusing on everything from hats to seat belts to car parts. After witnessing a carriage accident, he created a new traffic signal, one with a warning light notifying drivers they would need to stop.
Mr. Morgan has saved many lives with his inventions. Many of his inventions were the start of several inventions we now have today. If you want to know what it truly means to be innovative, look up a list of his inventions and you’ll have an idea.
If you can be the best, then why not try to be the best? – Garrett A. Morgan
Ruby Bridges was a childhood favorite of mine. She is known for being the first black child to desegregate the all-white school, William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Bridges was born September 8, 1954 in Mississippi. At the age of six she became the first African American child to integrate a white southern elementary school. Ruby Bridges had to be escorted to class by her mother and U.S. Marshals because of violent mobs. Even at such a young age, she paved the way for civil rights action.
With parents keeping their children home and no teacher willing to teach her, Ruby began to wonder if she would ever be able to attend class. Thankfully, one teacher, Barbara Henry agreed to teach her. The two sat side by side at desks for a full year working on Ruby’s lessons. As students returned, Ruby was not allowed to go to the cafeteria or recess with the other students. Her entire day was spent in the classroom.
So how does a child endure so much? How does a child endure threats to be poisoned or people showing up with little black dolls in coffins? A child endures through prayer and encouragement from her family. Because of her fearlessness we have books like The Story of Ruby Bridges, and the biographical film adaptation of her story as well.
Thank you Ruby Bridges for teaching us that at any age you can inspire change.
“Racism is a grown-up disease and we must stop using our children to spread it.”- Ruby Bridges
Enjoy these clips:
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925. His father was a preacher and although his family moved several times for safety from white supremacists groups, their home was still burned down. Malcolm’s family also believed that they were responsible for his father’s death as he was found lying across streetcar tracks. Both incidents had been ruled accidents.
Malcolm developed into a strong leader after being imprisoned for burglary. It was there that he began reading to pass the time by and became a part of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam. He started going by X instead of Little, because that was the name his ancestors inherited from slave owners. Eventually, Malcolm became one of the most well-known faces for black Muslims.
His involvement in the civil rights eras of 1950 and 1960 was important as he promoted black pride, separate black communities, and violence as a means of self-defense. He believed that his approached would benefit the approach Dr. King took:
“I want Dr. King to know that I didn’t come to Selma to make his job difficult. I really did come thinking I could make it easier. If the white people realize what the alternative is, perhaps they will be more willing to hear Dr. King.”
He also stated that although they had different approaches they both wanted the same thing—freedom.
After the controversy of Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm’s hero, he broke ties with the black Muslims Nation of Islam. Following a trip to Mecca, Malcolm came back with a new ideology that was less hateful and more optimistic about peaceful resolutions for America. “The true brotherhood I had seen had influenced me to recognize that anger can blind human vision,” he said. “America is the first country … that can actually have a bloodless revolution.” Unfortunately, shortly after his return Malcolm X was killed by black Muslims on February 21, 1965 before he was able to deliver a speech in Manhattan.