Black History Month 2017 Day 5


Today we will visit with Ira Aldridge

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Ira Aldridge was a 19th-century African-American actor who became a renowned interpreter of Shakespearean tragedy on the European stage.

Early Life

Born on July 24, 1807, in New York City, Ira Frederick Aldridge was the son of Lurona and Daniel Aldridge. The young Aldridge attended the African Free School and, in the early 1820s, began his acting career during his teens with the African Grove Theatre, also known as the African Theatre. Feeling that America wasn’t a hospitable place for a black actor, however, he decided to seek his fortune elsewhere.

Career Abroad

Emigrating to England as a fellow actor’s valet, Aldridge was able to find more creative opportunities, albeit with significant challenges. In 1825, Aldridge had a starring role as Oroonoko in The Revolt of Surinam in the Coburg Theatre. This fine performance, however, failed to launch a career for him on the London stage, with the actor facing racist rhetoric in the papers. Aldridge ended up spending years touring the United Kingdom, playing the title role in such Shakespearean works as Othello, Macbeth and Richard III.

A well-regarded actor, Aldridge was called the “African Roscius,” after the legendary Roman actor Quintus Roscius Gallus. Aldridge returned to London to play Othello in 1833 when he was only 26 years old, taking over the role for famed actor Edmund Kean, who had recently passed away. Returning to regional theater, Aldridge continued to perform Shakespeare’s works. Some of his performances included samplings from several plays, and he was known for portraying white characters.

Final Years

In 1852, Aldridge went on his first European tour. There he earned great acclaim for his performances. Five years later, Aldridge took the stage in St. Petersburg, Russia in a series of well-received shows. He spent little time in England, launching his last major tour of the United Kingdom in 1859.

Aldridge continued to act until the end of his life, earning a number of honors such as Switzerland’s White Cross. He also staunchly spoke out against slavery, contributing financially to abolitionist causes and incorporating songs of freedom into his performances.

Ira Aldridge died on August 7, 1867 in Lodz, Poland while touring. He had been twice married and left behind several children, including Luranah Aldridge, who later became an opera singer of some renown.

Acclaimed Play

Biographies on the actor’s life include a comprehensive 2011 two volume work by Berth Lindfors. And in 2012, the play Red Velvet debuted on the London stage, focusing on part of Aldridge’s career. The acclaimed production, which made its way to New York, was written by Lolita Chakrabarti and starred her husband, actor Adrian Lester.

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Black History Month 2017 Day 4


Today we will visit with the Founder of Chicago, Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable.

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The Father of Chicago: Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable

“The first white man to settle in Chicago was black.” That was a popular witticism around town in the 1930s, and it says a lot about the attitudes of the time. Of course, the person referred to was Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable.

DuSable was the first non-indigenous resident of our (Chicago) area. We know that. But much of the historical record is fuzzy. Even his name has different versions, such as “au Sable” or “de Saible.” Nor do we have any real idea of his physical appearance, except that he was a big man.

He was born in Santa Domingo (Haiti) around 1745. His father was a French sailor–some sources say a pirate–and his mother an enslaved African. According to legend, when Jean Baptiste’s mother was killed during a Spanish raid, the boy swam out to his father’s ship to take refuge. After that, the older DuSable took his son to France to be educated.

Along with a friend, Jean Baptiste arrived in New Orleans in 1764. The two young men became traders, journeying up the Mississippi and through the Midwest as far as present-day Michigan. During this time, DuSable married a Potawatomie woman and became a member of the tribe. The Potawatomie called him the “Black Chief.”

Sometime after 1770, Dusable moved to the region known as Eschecagou–which visitors mispronounced as “Chicago.” He built a trading post at the mouth of the local river, near where the Tribune Tower now stands. During the American Revolution he was forced off his claims and briefly interred by the British. He wound up operating a different trading post in Michigan.

DuSable reclaimed his Chicago property at the end of the war. Besides his 22×40-foot residence, he now built two barns, a mill, bakery, dairy, workshop, henhouse, and smokehouse. He sold pork, bread, and flour. As an adopted Potawatomie he enjoyed good relations with the native peoples. Many of them worked for him.

In 1800 DuSable abruptly sold his holdings. Why he did this is a mystery. He farmed near Peoria for about ten years, until his wife died. Then he moved in with his daughter at St. Charles, Missouri.

He had once been spoken of as a wealthy man, but most of that wealth was gone. Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable died at his daughter’s house on August 28, 1818, and was buried in the local Catholic cemetery. His gravesite remained unmarked until 1968.

After DuSable left Chicago, his property on the riverbank was taken over by John Kinzie. The years passed, and Kinzie was hailed as Mr. Pioneer Settler. DuSable was forgotten.

The city’s first recognition of DuSable came in 1912, when a plaque was placed on a building near his cabin site. Later a high school named for him was erected on Wabash Avenue. In 2006 the Chicago City Council officially recognized DuSable as the founder of Chicago.

The newest memorial to DuSable is an outdoor statuary bust. Dedicated in 2009, it’s located on Michigan Avenue just north of the river–right near his old front door.


Black History Month 2017 Day 3


Today we will visit with Antonio Ruiz.

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Second Corporal Antonio Ruiz (died February 3, 1810, was an Argentine soldier. He is the national hero of Argentina. Ruiz, nicknamed Falucho, was an Afro-Argentine soldier of the Independence War. Ruiz fought in José de San Martín’s army. According to the most common story, Corporal Ruiz, born a slave (perhaps in Africa), served in the Regiment of the River Plate and died while defending the colors (white and light blue) of the revolutionary flag (later the Argentine flag) against traitors during a revolt at the fort of El Callao, Peru) on February 6, 1824. Rather than hoist the Spanish flag, Falucho chose to be shot by the traitors, crying out with his last breath, Viva Buenos Aires! (Long live Buenos Aires!).


The night of 1 to 2 February 1810, the garrison of El Callao, which was composed by the remains of Army of the Andes and an artillery company from Chile, started a mutiny, which was joined by two squadrons of the Mounted Grenadiers Regiment.

These soldiers revolted because they were owed five months’ pay, to what was said the day before had been paid the salaries of the officers, the desire to return home, either Buenos Aires or Chile, and the disgust of having to sail north to swell the army of Bolivar. Seeing the prevailing indiscipline, the mulatto Moyano, Olive accepts the suggestion of consulting Royalist Colonel Jose María Casariego, who was taken captive and lodged there. Casariego saw the advantage he could derive from the situation and advised to replace the patriot leaders by Spanish.

Casariego convinces them to join the royal ranks where they would be rewarded, while the Patriots would receive punishment. In the midst of this disorder took place the remarkable story of Falucho. His story was first published on 14 May 1857 by Historian and politician Bartolomé Mitre at Los Debates journal.

The night of 3 February the black Falucho was a sentry in the tower of King Philip, which belonged to the Regiment of the River Plate. He was well known for their bravery and their patriotism. For many involved in the uprising, this had no further dimension than a mutiny in the barracks. Mitre tells that “While the dark-veiled sentinel was in the high castle tower, where rose the flagstick, which made few hours in the Argentine flag flew, Casariego the rebels decided to fly the Spanish flag in the dark the night before that they should repent of his resolution. “At that point come before the black Falucho, soldiers with the Spanish standard against which they fought for 14 years. Falucho could not believe it, and feeling totally humiliated sinks to the ground and weeps bitterly. The soldiers with orders to raise the Spanish flag, ordered Falucho to salute the flag of the King who was going to fly. Falucho answered sadly getting the gun he had dropped “I can not do honor to the flag against which I will fight forever,” then the mutineers shout at him: “Revolution!” Revolutionary! “.

According to Mitre, Falucho answers them: “Being a revolutionary is not evil, I prefer to be a revolutionary rather than a traitor! (…) And taking his rifle by the barrel, smashed against the flagstick, giving back to more grief. The executors of the betrayal seized Falucho immediately and shot four rounds at point blank on his chest and head. Before falling mortally wounded on the ground, Falucho cried Viva Buenos Aires!.

Mitre wrote that Falucho was born in Buenos Aires and his real name was Antonio Ruiz. The story was republished by Mitre in La Nación newspaper on 6, 7, 8 and 9 April 1875. He later published the book “History of San Martin and American emancipation”. Regarding Falucho, Mitre writes: “The Spanish flag was hoisted on the tower Independence, with an overall saving of castles (February 7). A black soldier from the regiment of the Rio de la Plata, born in Buenos Aires named Antonio Ruiz (whose surname Falucho), who struggled to do justice, was shot at the foot of the Spanish flag. He died shouting Viva Buenos Aires! “. Bartolomé Mitre take as the basis the oral testimony of General Enrique Martinez, director of the Division of the Andes, the testimony of Colonel Pedro Jose Díaz and Pedro Luna, and the written testimony of Colonel Juan Espinosa. Mitre say then that there were two black soldiers dubbed Falucho, apparently it was a generic nickname given to the black people in the army. Since the first publication of Mitre, his account rose critics and detractors. In 1899, Manuel J. Mantilla wrote in his book Los Negros Argentinos stating that there were two Faluchos, Ruiz, whose fate was recalled by Martinez and Diaz-Espinosa, and another who lived in Lima in 1830, according to Miller’s letter to San Martin del 20 August that year. Miller named him saying “the morenito Falucho, which served in the 8 Company of Sharpshooters and took a flag in Maipú”.

According to historian Mantilla in 1819, there was a second Antonio Ruiz among the members of the Company of Captain Manuel Díaz, while in that of Pedro José Díaz there wasn’t a soldier of that name. Many authors claim that the heroic death of Falucho was an invention of Mitre. In light of all existing evidence. The only thing we know for sure is that a black soldier died heroically in El Callao while refusing to honor the Spanish royal flag. But certainly, this soldier was not Falucho. Falucho was a black soldier in the 8th Battalion of the Army of the Andes that was possibly the ‘second’ Antonio Ruiz. This soldier was well known to San Martin and Guido and lived in Lima in 1830.

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Black History Month 2017 Day 2

freedom_s_journalToday we will examine the Freedom’s Journal.

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Freedom’s Journal was the first African American owned and operated newspaper in the United States. A weekly four column publication printed every Friday, Freedom’s Journal was founded by free born African Americans John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish on March 16, 1827 in New York City, New York. The newspaper contained both foreign and domestic news, editorials, biographies, births and deaths in the local African American community, and advertisements. Editorials deriding slavery, racial discrimination, and other injustices against African Americans were aimed at providing a counterweight to many of the white newspapers of the time period which openly supported slavery and racial bias.

Freedom’s Journal was not born solely out of the perceived need to defend African Americans as much as a desire within the black community to create a forum that would express their views and advocate for their causes.  Russwurm and Cornish placed great value on the need for reading and writing as keys to empowerment for the black population and they hoped a black newspaper would encourage literacy and intellectual development among African Americans.  Relatedly the newspaper sought to broaden its readers’ awareness of world events and developments while simultaneously strengthening ties among black communities across the Northern United States.  Subscriptions were $3 per year and Freedom’s Journal at its peak circulated in eleven states, the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe, and Canada.

In September 1827 Russwurm became sole editor of Freedom’s Journal following the resignation of Cornish over differences regarding African American colonization of Africa. Russwurm had begun to promote the colonization movement lead by the American Colonization Society which wanted to free African American slaves and offer them the opportunity of transport back to Africa. The paper’s support of colonization, however, was unpopular with its readers and subscriptions began to decline.  With the loss of circulation in March 1829, Freedom’s Journal was forced to cease publication.

Soon afterwards, John Russwurm decided to emigrate to Liberia, the area established on Africa’s western coast to receive those recruited by the American Colonization Society.  Russwurm became governor of Liberia’s Maryland Colony.  Samuel Cornish returned to publishing in 1829 and attempted to revive Freedom’s Journal under a new name, The Rights of All.  The newspaper folded in less than a year. Despite its two-year lifespan, Freedom’s Journal made an enormous impact on antebellum African American communities.  By the beginning of the American Civil War, three decades later, there were over 40 black-owned and operated newspapers throughout the United States.

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Black History Month 2017 Day 1

Eubie Blake   F26
Today We will visit with Eubie Blake.
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Ragtime pianist Eubie Blake was one of the most famous composers of 20th century musicals, known for hits like “I’m Just Wild About Harry.”
Born in Maryland on February 7, 1887, Eubie Blake went on to become a revered ragtime pianist and composer for American musicals. He entered into a partnership with singer-songwriter Noble Sissle in 1915; the two would work together on the 1921 musical Shuffle Along, featuring the mega-hit “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” Blake composed hundreds of songs and received many accolades for his work. He died in Brooklyn, New York, on February 12, 1983, a few days after his 96th birthday.

Early Life and Training

Eubie Blake was born James Hubert Blake on February 7, 1883, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Emily Johnston and John Sumner Blake. Blake’s religious mother ran a strict household while his father stressed the importance of education, having become literate despite being enslaved.

Blake, whose nickname, “Hubie,” would be tweaked to Eubie, started playing the pump organ as a child with the encouragement of his mother. Though originally slated to play for the church, Blake was drawn to the more free-flowing musical style of ragtime and would sneak out to play at a nearby brothel—Aggie Shelton’s Bawdy House. In 1899, while working at Shelton’s, Blake composed his first rag for piano, “Sounds of Africa,” later known as “Charleston Rag.”

Partnership With Noble Sissle

Blake toured and played at night clubs in the early 1900s. In 1907, he started playing at the Goldfield Hotel in Baltimore, owned by African-American prize fighter Joe Gans; there, Blake established a reputation as a stellar performer and composer. (Blake wrote and published his own rag compositions, though he would earn far less than he should have due to unethical music publishing practices.) In 1910, Blake wed classical pianist Avis Lee, a woman he revered as a graceful beauty. They were married until her death in 1939.

In May 1915, while in Baltimore, Blake met singer and lyricist Noble Sissle, and the two embarked on a rewarding partnership. They soon composed “Ot’s All Your Fault,” which became a smash for vaudeville vocalist Sophie Tucker. In 1916, via Sissle’s recommendation, Blake then joined the Society Orchestra, a Harlem-based group led by James Reese Europe.

After Sissle returned from serving in World War I, he and Blake performed on the vaudeville circuit as the Dixie Duo, discarding the prevalent convention of the time of performing in black face.

Later Years

In 1945, Blake enrolled in a music program at New York University and graduated at the age of 67. During the 1950s, ragtime once again began to be appreciated by the public and hence over the years Blake would be recognized as one of the great living purveyors of the form.

In 1969, he recorded with Columbia Records The 86 Years of Eubie Blake. He became a regular guest on The Tonight Show during the ’70s, received many awards—including the Presidential Medal of Honor—and performed until he was in his late 90s, having ultimately composed more than 350 songs. In 1978, the show Eubie! premiered on Broadway, a hit musical overview of the pioneer’s life. In honor of Blake’s 100th birthday, the Kennedy Center presented the televised Eubie Blake: A Century of Music, which won an Emmy Award in 1983.

James “Eubie” Blake died on February 12, 1983, a few days after turning 96, in Brooklyn, New York.

Black History Month 2016 Day 29

Today we will visit Blanche Kelso Bruce.

Source: US House of Representatives.

Picture Credit: Dickinson College

Blanche K. Bruce

Blanche Kelso Bruce 1841-1898

A slave who became a successful plantation owner, Blanche Kelso Bruce was the second African American to serve in the United States Senate and the first to be elected to a full term. Though Bruce focused on protecting the rights of freedmen and other minorities, his life of social privilege in the nation’s capital insulated him from the deprivations suffered by many of his black constituents. Bruce moved among elite circles of wealthy white politicians, including his close friends Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York and Senator Lucius Q. C. Lamar of Mississippi. “Mr. Bruce’s conduct in the senate has been such as not to alienate himself from the Southern people,” noted Lamar, who had drafted the Mississippi ordinance of secession, served as a Confederate diplomat, and returned to the U.S. Congress as an unabashed opponent of Reconstruction. “[Bruce] has not joined in the abusive warfare on the South that many of his Republican colleagues in the Senate Chamber have constantly pursued,” Lamar added. “He is an intelligent man, and the best representative of his race in public life.”1

Blanche Bruce was born near Farmville, Virginia, on March 1, 1841. His mother, Polly Bruce, was a slave, and his father, Pettus Perkinson, was his mother’s owner and the son–in–law of her deceased former owner, Lemuel Bruce. Bruce’s first name was originally “Branch,” but he changed it to “Blanche” as a teenager. For unexplained reasons, he later adopted the middle name “Kelso.”2 One of 11 children, Blanche Bruce was a personal servant to his half brother William Perkinson.3 Even though he was a slave, Bruce was accorded a status nearly equal to the Perkinson children’s. Described by contemporaries as an eager learner, he studied with William’s private tutor. But despite such benign treatment, Bruce escaped to Kansas during the Civil War and attempted to enlist in the Union Army. His application was refused, and he settled in Lawrence to teach school. Returning to Hannibal, Missouri, near the war’s end, he organized the state’s first school for black children in 1864. Though he planned to attend Ohio’s Oberlin College to study for his divinity degree, he could not afford the tuition.4 He spent the remainder of the 1860s working as a steamboat porter out of St. Louis on the Mississippi River, moving to Mississippi in 1869 to find more–lucrative opportunities.

Upon his arrival in Mississippi, Blanche Bruce witnessed a stump speech by Republican gubernatorial candidate James Alcorn, which inspired him to enter politics.5 On an 1870 trip to Jackson, the young, articulate Bruce caught the eye of white Republicans. That same year, the district military commander, General Adelbert Ames, appointed Bruce registrar of voters in Tallahatchie County. When the first postwar Mississippi legislature met in late 1870, Bruce, who was large and imposing, was elected sergeant at arms. In 1871, he was elected to the joint office of sheriff and tax collector of Bolivar County. The following year, the Republican state board of education appointed him county superintendent of education. In a singular achievement, Bruce turned the Bolivar County school system into one of the best in the state, creating a segregated but equally funded system that boasted the support of both blacks and whites.6 Bruce’s wealth also increased. He invested in land, becoming a successful planter by the late 1870s. In 1872, he was named to the board of levee commissioners for a district containing three counties. The commissioners were empowered to raise revenue and build embankments in the Mississippi Delta region.

By the mid–1870s, Blanche K. Bruce was among the best–recognized politicians in the state.7 However, he faced a difficult decision when the state Republican Party split into two factions.A moderate, primarily white faction, led by then–Senator Alcorn, began ignoring African Americans’ demands for civil rights. Then Alcorn’s political rival Governor Ames adopted a more radical stance, abandoning efforts to reach out to conservative whites. Although Bruce disagreed with the Radical Republicans, because he believed that political stability required biracial cooperation, he allied himself nonetheless with the Ames faction so as to support his fellow blacks. Governor Ames offered Bruce the position of lieutenant governor in 1873, but Bruce refused, eyeing the governor’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.8 In January 1874, the state legislature met to nominate a U.S. Senator to fill Ames’s unexpired term, and to select someone for a full six–year term beginning in the 44th Congress (1875–1877). Unlike Senator Hiram Revels before him, Bruce was selected to serve the full term primarily by black Republican colleagues, taking 52 of the 84 votes in the second ballot over Republican carpetbaggers, Representative George McKee and U.S. District Attorney G. Wiley Wells. The full legislature elected Bruce nearly unanimously on February 4, 1874.9

When Bruce arrived in the U.S. Senate Chamber on March 5, 1875, precedent called for his state’s senior Senator to escort him to the podium, but Senator Alcorn snubbed the junior Senator because of Bruce’s alliance with Governor Ames. Bruce walked up the aisle alone until Republican Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York offered to escort him. Thereafter Bruce had a powerful ally in Conkling, who coached him in Senate procedures and procured him assignments on influential committees, such as the Education and Labor, Manufactures, and Pensions committees.

Bruce remained quiet during the special session of the Senate, and concerned white Republicans feared he would shirk his responsibility to Mississippi by deferring to the Radical Republican leadership; black political leaders doubted Bruce would stand up for freedmen, who faced terrible violence from white supremacists implementing the Mississippi Plan.10 Bruce may have been following the time–honored tradition that a freshman remains studious and silent during his first few months in the Senate Chamber. He later noted that success in the Senate required managing diplomacy: “The novelty of my position [compels me] to cultivate and exhibit my honorable associates a courtesy that would inspire reciprocal courtesy.”11

Bruce finally broke his silence on March 3, 1876, in defense of southern blacks, petitioning his colleagues to seat Pinckney B. S. Pinchback, a black Senator–elect from Louisiana and a personal friend. But Pinchback’s political opponents questioned his selection by the state legislature due to corruption charges and despite Bruce’s pleas, the Senate narrowly rejected Pinchback’s claim to the seat.12 Bruce followed this speech with a demand for an inquiry into the violent 1875 Mississippi gubernatorial election. The Senate passed a bill to investigate the political conditions in Mississippi during the previous election; however, the Democratic House did not act on the legislation.13

Bruce’s advocacy for African Americans was most evident in issues affecting black war veterans. He was a staunch defender of black servicemen, promoting integration of the armed forces and fair treatment. On April 10, 1878, he unsuccessfully attempted to desegregate the U.S. Army, citing the U.S. Navy as a precedent.14 Two years later, Bruce delivered a speech asking the War Department to investigate the brutal hazing of black West Point cadet Johnson C. Whittaker. The following year, he supported legislation that prevented discrimination against the heirs to black soldiers’ Civil War pensions.15 He also submitted a bill in 1879 to distribute money unclaimed by black Civil War soldiers to five African–American colleges. As the bill gained publicity, however, more claimants came forward and depleted the fund. The Senate Committee on Education and Labor eventually reported against the bill.16

Senator Bruce also favored the interests of other ethnic and racial minorities. During a debate on the Chinese Exclusion Act, with which he disagreed, Bruce became the first black Senator to preside over a Senate session, on February 14, 1879. Bruce also demanded more–equitable treatment for Native Americans. On April 6, 1880, he railed against federal management of Native Americans in a Senate Floor speech. “Our Indian policy and administration seem to me to have been inspired and controlled by stern selfishness,” Bruce declared. Admonishing those who placed the goal of territorial expansion over honoring treaties, he continued, “We have in the effort to realize a somewhat intangible ideal, to wit, the preservation of Indian liberty and the administration and exercise of national authority.… The political system that underlies our Indian policy … is foreign in its character; the individuals and the system of laws are not American.”17

In April 1879, Bruce was appointed chairman of the Select Committee to Investigate the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company after its failure in 1874. Comprising three southern Democrats and three Republicans, including Bruce, the committee set out to investigate the more–than 600 pages of testimony and documentation collected at the bank’s closure to identify employees who were guilty of fraud and incompetence. The resultant Senate bill to reimburse former customers did not pass, but Bruce and his fellow Republicans succeeded in convincing the federal government to purchase the bank’s former Washington, DC, headquarters to provide the company with some capital.18

As a landowner, Bruce was interested in the financial health of property owners on the banks of the Mississippi River. He supported many internal improvements and financial incentives, including the creation of a Mississippi Valley railroad and a refund for cotton taxes levied during the Civil War. In the 45th Congress (1877–1879), he served as chairman of the Select Committee on the Mississippi River. In this position, he fought for federal funding to control flooding and advocated the creation of a channel and levee system for parts of the river’s edge. Bruce introduced a measure in 1879 to form the Mississippi River Improvement Association, a federally funded organization to control river flooding and protect waterfront property.19

Bruce’s favor among white conservative voters was not matched among his black constituents. Despite Bruce’s political advocacy, Mississippi blacks questioned his commitment to the plight of freedmen in collapsing Reconstruction governments. Bruce’s privileged background often alienated him from his poorer constituents.20 He and his wife, Josephine Beall Wilson of Ohio—the first black teacher in the Cleveland public schools and the daughter of a prominent mulatto dentist—whom he married on June 24, 1878, became fixtures in Washington, DC, high society. As a matter of policy, Bruce hesitated to support the westward migration of Black Americans from the South to Kansas and other Plains states. At the urging of his constituents, he introduced legislation that would assist destitute black farmers in Kansas by encouraging the federal government to issue more western land grants. His bill died in committee; however, he managed to appropriate the distribution of duty–free British cotton clothing to impoverished Kansas communities.21 Yet these efforts were judged lacking by the black community. Nor did the white establishment look favorably on Bruce. Despite Bruce’s moderation and political connections, rising “reform” politicians in power in Mississippi, who wished to recreate a “lily white” government, discounted him because of his race. When the Democratic Mississippi legislature gathered to select a new Senator in January 1880, Bruce did not even attempt a bid for a second term. The legislature chose Democrat James Z. George to succeed him.

After leaving the Senate, Bruce remained active in the Mississippi and national Republican parties.22 He briefly served as presiding officer at the 1880 Republican National Convention in Chicago, where he received eight votes for the nomination for Vice President. When the convention returned to Chicago in 1888, Bruce received 11 such votes. He also served as superintendent for black achievement at the World’s Cotton Exposition in New Orleans from 1884 to 1885 before returning to Washington to seek presidential patronage positions, his only hope of sustaining his political career. Though he rejected an offer to be Minister to Brazil because that country practiced slavery, Bruce received many endorsements for a post in President James Garfield’s Cabinet in 1881. Garfield ultimately passed him over, but Bruce obtained a prime position as register of the U.S. Treasury and remained there until 1885. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia; however, he left that office in 1893 after receiving an honorary LL.D. and joining the board of trustees at Howard University.23 Bruce returned to the Treasury post in 1897 after being considered for a Cabinet position in President William McKinley’s administration. He continued to reside in Washington until he succumbed to a kidney ailment due to complications from diabetes on March 17, 1898.24


1William C. Harris, “Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi: Conservative Assimilationist,” in Howard Rabinowitz ed., Southern Black Leaders of the Reconstruction Era (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982): 30.

1William C. Harris, “Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi: Conservative Assimilationist,” in Howard Rabinowitz ed., Southern Black Leaders of the Reconstruction Era (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982): 30.

2Lawrence Otis Graham, The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America’s First Black Dynasty(New York: HarperCollins, 2006): 11; Grace E. Collins, “Blanche Kelso Bruce,” in Jessie Carney Smith ed.,Notable Black American Men (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Research, Inc., 1999): 144 (hereinafter referred to as NBAM).

2Lawrence Otis Graham, The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America’s First Black Dynasty(New York: HarperCollins, 2006): 11; Grace E. Collins, “Blanche Kelso Bruce,” in Jessie Carney Smith ed.,Notable Black American Men (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Research, Inc., 1999): 144 (hereinafter referred to as NBAM).

3Bruce’s family situation was complicated. His half siblings through his mother and Lemuel Bruce included Sandy, Calvin, James, and Henry and a half sister whose name is not known. His full siblings through his mother and Pettis Perkinson included Howard, Edward, Robert, Eliza, and Mary. SeeGraham,The Senator and the Socialite: 10–11, 16–17.

4Collins, “Blanche Kelso Bruce,” NBAM: 144.


6William C. Harris, “Bruce, Blanche Kelso,” American National Biography 3 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999): 779–780 (hereinafter referred to as ANB).

7Eric Foner, Freedom’s Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993): 29.

8Collins, “Blanche Kelso Bruce,” NBAM:145.

9Harris, “Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi: Conservative Assimilationist”: 11–12.

10Ibid., 15.

11Graham, The Senator and the Socialite: 68–70, 76; quoted in Harris, “Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi: Conservative Assimilationist”: 20.

12Pinchback had recently been elected an At–Large Representative from Louisiana, and while his election was being contested, he was elected by the state legislature to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. His selection for the Senate seat also was contested. He was rejected by both houses on charges of bribery and corruption. See Eric R. Jackson, “Pinchback, P. B. S.,” ANB 17: 527–529.

13Congressional Record, Senate, 44th Cong., 1st sess. (31 March 1876): 2101–2105; Graham, The Senator and the Socialite: 80–81.

14The Navy had long accepted blacks. Predictably, its race record suffered during the Jim Crow decades. Few blacks secured appointments to the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and none matriculated as officers. In the 1880s, black sailors were routinely denied promotions and assigned to perform menial tasks or labor. See David Osher’s essay “Race Relations and War,” The Oxford Companion to American Military History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999): 585.

15Congressional Record, Senate, 46th Cong., 3rd sess. (10 February 1881): 1397–1398.

16See S. 865, 46th Congress, 2nd session.

17Congressional Record, Senate, 46th Cong., 2nd sess. (7 April 1880): 2195–2196. Bruce was supporting a bill selling federal lands to the Ute Indians in Colorado (S. 1509), which passed and was approved by President Rutherford B. Hayes in the 46th Congress (1879–1881).

18Harris, “Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi: Conservative Assimilationist”: 22.

19Samuel L. Shapiro, “Bruce, Blanche Kelso,” Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982): 74–76 (hereinafter referred to as DANB).

20Harris, “Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi: Conservative Assimilationist”: 27, 33. See also Thomas C. Holt, Black Over White:Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977).

21Graham, The Senator and the Socialite: 116.

22Harris, “Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi: Conservative Assimilationist”: 19.

23Shapiro, “Bruce, Blanche Kelso,” DANB.

24Foner, Freedom’s Lawmakers: 30. Bruce’s family continued his legacy of public service and focus on education. Josephine Bruce was the principal of the Tuskegee Institute and was active in the National Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. Bruce’s son, Roscoe Conkling Bruce, and his grandson, Roscoe Bruce, Jr., graduated with honors from Harvard University. The latter was embroiled in controversy when Harvard’s president refused to admit him into the dormitories in 1923.

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Black History Month 2016 Day 28

Today we will visit Hattie McDaniel.

Source: Biography

Picture Credit: Jessica Simien

Hattie McDaniel 1893-1952

Hattie McDaniel 1893-1952

Actress and radio performer Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940, for her supporting role as Mammy in ‘Gone With the Wind.’


Actress Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10, 1893, in Wichita, Kansas. By the mid-1920s, she became one of the first African-American women on the radio. In 1934, she landed her on-screen break in the film Judge Priest. She then became the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940, for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. Then in 1947, after her career took a downturn, she starred on CBS radio’s The Beulah Show. She died on October 26, 1952, in Los Angeles, California.

Early Life and Background

Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10, 1893, in Wichita, Kansas, with some sources listing her year of birth as 1895. She was her parents’ 13th child. Her father, Henry, was a Civil War veteran who suffered greatly from war injuries and had a difficult time with manual labor. (Henry was later described by one of his sons as a minister, though this was a fictionalized account.) Her mother, Susan Holbert, did domestic work.

In 1901, McDaniel and her family moved to Denver, Colorado. There she attended the 24th Street Elementary School, where she was one of only two black students in her class. Her natural flair for singing—in church, at school and in her home—was apparent early on and gained her popularity among her classmates.

Career in Song and Dance

While at East River High School, McDaniel started professionally singing, dancing and performing skits in shows as part of The Mighty Minstrels. In 1909, she decided to drop out of school in order to more fully focus on her fledgling career, performing with her older brother’s own troupe. In 1911, she married pianist Howard Hickman and went on to organize an all-women’s minstrel show.

By the 1920s, McDaniel worked with Professor George Morrison’s orchestra and toured with his and other vaudeville troops for the next five years. By mid-decade, she was invited to perform on Denver’s KOA radio station.

Following her radio performance, McDaniel continued to work the vaudeville circuit and established herself as a blues artist, writing her own work. When projects weren’t coming in, she took on attendant work to supplement her income. Much to her relief, in 1929 McDaniel landed a steady gig as a vocalist at Sam Pick’s Suburban Inn in Milwaukee.

Acclaimed Actress

A year or so later, McDaniel’s brother, Sam, and sister, Etta, convinced her to move to Los Angeles, where they had managed to procure minor movie roles for themselves. Sam was also a regular on a KNX radio show called The Optimistic Do-Nuts. Not long after arriving in L.A., McDaniel had a chance to appear on her brother’s program. She was a quick hit with listeners and was dubbed “Hi Hat Hattie” for donning formal wear during her first KNX performance.

In 1931, McDaniel scored her first small film role as an extra in a Hollywood musical. Then in 1932, she was featured as a housekeeper in The Golden West. McDaniel continued to land parts here and there. But, as roles for black actors were hard to come by, she was once again forced to take odd jobs to make ends meet.

McDaniel landed a major on-screen role in 1934, singing a duet with Will Rogers in John Ford’s Judge Priest. The following year, she was awarded the role of Mom Beck, starring opposite Shirley Temple and Lionel Barrymore in The Little Colonel. The part gained McDaniel the attention of Hollywood directors, and was followed by a steady stream of offers, including the part of Queenie in the 1936 film adaptation of Showboat, with Irene Dunne. (McDaniel had previously toured with the stage version of the Kern and Hammerstein musical as well.)

Academy Award Winner

In 1939, McDaniel was widely seen in a film that would mark the highlight of her entertainment career. As Mammy, the house servant of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivian Leigh) in Gone With the Wind, McDaniel earned the 1940 Academy Award for best supporting actress—becoming the first African American to win an Oscar. Yet all of the film’s black actors, including McDaniel, were barred from attending the film’s premiere in 1939, aired at the Loew’s Grand Theatre on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia.

Later, during World War II, McDaniel helped entertain American troops and promoted the sale of war bonds.


Through the mid-1940s, McDaniel appeared in additional films, primarily playing roles that members of the post-war progressive black community were beginning to cite as offensively old-fashioned. Since playing Mom Beck in The Little Colonel, McDaniel had been attacked by the media for taking parts that perpetuated a negative stereotype of blacks; she was criticized for playing servants and slaves who were seemingly content to retain their role as such.

Walter White, then president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, pleaded with African-American actors to stop accepting such stereotypical parts, as he believed they degraded their community. He also urged movie studios to start creating roles that portrayed blacks as capable of achieving far more than cooking and cleaning for white people.

In her defense, McDaniel responded by asserting her prerogative to accept whatever roles she chose. She also suggested that characters like Mammy proved themselves as more than just measuring up to their employers.

Later Life and Death

As the Civil Rights Movement progressed, the sort of roles for which McDaniel was typecast began to gradually disappear and she was no longer a popular choice for films. Movie offers eventually stopped coming altogether.

McDaniel reacted to the decline in her acting career by making a strategic return to radio. In 1947, she took on the starring role for CBS radio’s The Beulah Show. Although McDaniel was once again playing a maid, she managed—with the NAACP’s approval—to use her talents to break racial stereotypes rather than reinforce them.

In 1951, McDaniel started filming for the television version of The Beulah Show. Unexpectedly, she suffered a heart attack around the same time. McDaniel was later diagnosed with breast cancer in 1952, and actress Louise Beavers stepped in to assume her role on the TV show, which had initially been played by Ethel Waters.

Hattie McDaniel lost her battle with cancer in Los Angeles, California, on October 26, 1952. Since her death, McDaniel has been posthumously awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Additionally, in 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. A well-received biography on her life was published in 2005—Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood, by Jill Watts.

Thanks for your attention.



Black History Month 2016 Day 27

Today we will visit Debi Thomas.

Source: The Washington Post

Picture Credit: Hello Beautiful

Debi Thomas -  First Black Winter Games Olympic Medalist

Debi Thomas – First Black Winter Games Olympic Medalist

Debi Thomas, the best African American figure skater in the history of the sport, couldn’t find her figure skates. She looked around the darkened trailer, perched along a river in a town so broke even the bars have closed, and sighed. The mobile home where she lives with her fiance and his two young boys was cluttered with dishes, stacks of documents, a Christmas tree still standing weeks past the holiday.

“They’re around here somewhere,” she murmured three times. “I know I have a pair,” she continued, before trailing off. “Because — what did I skate in? — something. They’re really tight, though, because your feet grow after you don’t wear them for a long time.” Her medals — from the World Figure Skating Championships, from the Olympics — were equally elusive: “They’re in some bag somewhere.”

Uncertainty is not a feeling Debi Thomas has often experienced in her 48 years. She was once so confident in her abilities that she simultaneously studied at Stanford University and trained for the Olympics, against the advice of her coach. She was once so lauded for the lithe beauty she expressed on the ice that Time magazine put her on its cover and ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” named her athlete of the year in 1986. She wasn’t just the nation’s best figure skater. She was smart — able to win a competition, stay up all night cramming, then ace a test the next morning.

She wanted it all. And for a time, she had it. After Stanford came medical school at Northwestern University, then marriage to a handsome lawyer who gave her a son — who in turn became one of the country’s best high school football players. Higher and higher she went.

Now, she’s here. Thomas, a former orthopedic surgeon who doesn’t have health insurance, declared bankruptcy in 2014 and hasn’t brought in a steady paycheck in years. She’s twice divorced, and her medical license, which she was in danger of losing anyhow, expired around the time she went broke. She hasn’t seen her family in years. She instead inveighs against shadowy authorities in the nomenclature of conspiracy theorists — “the powers that be”; “corporate media”; “brainwashing” — and composes opinion pieces for the local newspaper that carry headlines such as “Pain, No Gain” and “Driven to Insanity.” She thinks that hoarding gold will insulate us from a looming financial meltdown, and recruits people to sell bits of gold bullion called “Karatbars.”

There’s a conventional narrative of how Thomas went from where she was to where she is — that of a talented figure undone by internal struggles and left penniless. That was how reality TV told it, when the Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Fix My Life” and “Inside Edition” did pieces on her.

But nothing is ever that simple with Thomas. She has always bucked convention. She was a black athlete who entered a sport that had exceedingly few. She was the first champion in a generation to combine college and figure skating. She proclaimed unimaginable ambitions — such as becoming an astronaut after securing her medical degree — and dared you to doubt her.

Debi Thomas -  First Black Winter Games Olympic Medalist

Debi Thomas – First Black Winter Games Olympic Medalist

“She’s got all these degrees,” fiance Jamie Looney said as he watched television with Thomas inside the trailer. “She’s a doctor. She’s a surgeon. And she’s here. I’ve got one year of community college. I know why I’m here. I look at her, wondering, ‘Why are you not working somewhere else?’ ”

Such comments upset Thomas. “People are all like, ‘Get a job,’ ” she said. “And I’m like, ‘You people are fools.’ I’m trying to change the world.”

Richlands, populated by coal miners with few mines to plunder, would seem to be an odd place to launch such an effort. The per capita income is less than $20,000, and the few industries left booming in the wake of mining layoffs include cash-express shops and pain-management clinics. Thomas, riding shotgun as Looney steers a silver SUV on a recent afternoon, passes several such establishments before arriving at a country market.

She greets the store’s owners — “I just signed them up for Karatbars, which will help them a lot,” she later says — and settles into a booth. Her hair is frazzled. She wears a big, poofy red coat. On her wrists are two bracelets. One is inscribed with “Believe.” The other, “Reimagine.”

It quickly becomes apparent that Thomas, for all of her talents, is not a good storyteller.

When explaining what brought her to Richlands, she communicates in a rush of thoughts, linked neither by chronology nor association, and exudes frustration when listeners can’t keep up. “I’m a visionary and have an ability to put very complex things together,” Thomas says. “And most people don’t get that.”

She says she wants to help a community she frequently describes as having “socioeconomic struggles.” In 2014, she launched a campaign to fund a “show about reality” — not to be confused with a “reality TV show” — that would expose life’s hardships and star Thomas. She says she also wants to enlist Richlands’ neediest as affiliates of Karatbar — which would pay her a recruitment commission — so they could earn “passive income” if they recruit others to sell the tiny bullions.

Her fiance, a gregarious unemployed coal miner, sits at her side. He hasn’t said much, but looks exasperated. “I want a normal relationship,” Looney says.

“I don’t want to be normal,” she replies. “Normal is not quite right. Normal is not excelling. That’s why they call it normal.”

She pauses. “I’m very misunderstood because I look at the world differently,” she continues. “You can call it the Olympian mentality.”

Excelling has always been very important in Thomas’s family. Her grandfather, Daniel Skelton, received a doctorate in veterinary medicine at Cornell University in 1939, the only African American in his class. Her mom, who split from Thomas’s dad when Thomas was 9, was a computer engineer when the field had few women and fewer blacks. Her brother, Richard Taylor, earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley, then a master’s in business at Stanford University.

“I guess I’m somewhat underachieving,” Taylor said.

Anyone would be when compared with Debi Thomas. Growing up in San Jose, Taylor said his sister always talked about becoming a doctor and loved mechanics. “One Halloween, she made herself into a calculator,” Taylor said. “You would push the buttons . . . and she would give the answer. Even as a kid, she had an engineer’s mind.”

But she also had the body of an athlete. And after her mom took her to an ice show, Thomas thought she would give it a try. When that lark transformed into something much more serious, when her coach realized he had a prodigy on his hands, when she got deeper into the byzantine and fiercely political world of figure skating, there came a choice. Skating — or school?

“Eighth grade came along and she comes in second in the nation and her coach wanted her to quit school,” her mother, Janice Thomas, said. Instead, she enrolled in high school near an ice rink in Redwood City, Calif., and for four years her mom drove 150 miles per day — school, then practice, then home. When she dispatched her college application to Stanford, the word she used to describe herself: “invincible.”

“Some people are told, ‘You can’t do that,’ and it crushes them,” her mother said. “Other people say, ‘I’ll show you.’ ”

Other pressures saddled Thomas, though her family isn’t sure she noticed it. Taylor said he sees his sister whenever commentators remark on professional tennis player Serena Williams’s muscles. Figure skating was — and remains — an intensely white and affluent sport, he said, and judges recommended that Thomas “play down certain aspects of her looks,” he said. “It was couched in language that the person making the comments wouldn’t interpret it racially, but I did.”

Thomas ultimately got three nose jobs, brought in a ballet instructor to feminize her aesthetic and, between the ages of 18 and 21, was considered the only one capable of taking down the worldwide juggernaut of women’s figure skating, East Germany’s Katarina Witt.

“She was the only one who could really beat me,” Witt recalls.

And though she once did — batting Witt down to second place in the 1986 World Figure Skating Championships — it often appeared to be a joyless pursuit. She fretted about the Olympics. “I really want it over with,” Thomas told Rolling Stone magazine before the 1988 Winter Games. “Last week,” she added, “I thought I was going to throw myself through the glass windows at the rink.”

Then came the moment. Thomas had skated with precision and confidence in the first Olympic event and would take gold if she stuck the longer performance.

She and her coach had planned two triple-revolution jumps in quick succession at the segment’s beginning — something no other top female skater had done — worrying ballet instructor George de la Peña, who had helped Thomas with her routine. “Why not give her some space before the big risky stuff?” he recalled saying. But Thomas thought she could land it.

The first, she did. The second, she flubbed.

Thomas knew it was over seconds into the routine. “I’m sorry,” she mouthed to her coach after she finished, eventually taking the bronze medal. She looked disappointed. But her expression conveyed something else: relief.

“Well,” she told her coach. “Back to school.”

Thomas talks a lot about what she calls the “Olympian mentality.” It’s a frame of mind among elite athletes that they can will themselves to excellence. Self-doubt and vulnerability are banished. Confidence is everything. Triumph is within reach.

William T. Long, once an academic at the Los Angeles university where Thomas did her residency, saw this psychology at work. Everyone knew Thomas could do the procedures. Patients loved her. But her grades weren’t outstanding. There was concern that she wouldn’t pass the boards. “And she did it,” he said, “against the critics and against many odds.”

But that victory also betrayed what would become her signature weakness. Long never saw her appear to be insecure and came to recognize her confidence as a “two-edged sword.” It drove her to take greater risks than others would. It made her difficult to coach. Some disliked her because of it.

“She wanted and expected to be treated like a star,” said Lawrence Dorr, who offered her a prestigious orthopedic fellowship at the Dorr Arthritis Institute in Los Angeles, but quickly realized he couldn’t work with her. “But in orthopedics, she knew she wasn’t a star,” Dorr said. He added: “She would argue back. It was almost like she was contrarian, like she was trying to argue with everything I do.”

Difficulties with other medical professionals would come to define Thomas’s career as she left one institution after another after short periods of time. Her first stop was in Champaign, Ill. Then another in Terre Haute, Ind. “I’ve never lasted anywhere more than a year,” she said. What she viewed as commitment to perfection, others perceived as recalcitrance. “Olympian mentality is rough because you just get frustrated with how everybody does everything,” Thomas explained in a YouTube video. “Everything needs to be done with excellence. I’m a fixer.”

If she could be her own boss, she thought things would improve. So in 2010, she left her husband and 13-year-old son — whose school year she said she didn’t want to disrupt — and moved to Richlands, where she opened a private orthopedic practice at the Clinch Valley Medical Center. But Thomas — a specialist in a sparsely populated area, with no business experience — was soon falling behind on bills, burning through savings and clashing with other doctors.

Around this time, she treated a boy’s broken wrist, and his dad asked her out. The charming man lived in a gray trailer by the river. She and Looney began an affectionate, but combustible, relationship. She realized that Looney, who had spent years in the coal mines, had an addiction to prescription narcotics. And though she was dating him, according to Virginia Board of Medicine records she said she prescribed him drugs to “wean him off the narcotics.”

As Thomas’s troubles mounted, Long said he received lengthy, 10-page e-mails from his former student. They were “rambling,” he said, laced with suspicion that the medical system was conspiring against her. Whatever was troubling Thomas, he said, was “progressive” and worse every time he heard from her.

On April 22, 2012, Thomas and Looney had a disagreement at the trailer, says a psychological evaluation Thomas shared with The Washington Post. Thomas got hold of his gun. “She thought, ‘If I act crazier than him, he will straighten up,’ ” the report says. “She then went outside and shot the gun into the ground to scare him,” it also states.

Later that day, according to Virginia Department of Health Professionals records, she approached a police officer and told him she had a gun and wanted to hurt herself. He detained her and, on a temporary detention order, brought her to a hospital for treatment. Medical board records show she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Clinch Valley officials told Thomas to enter a distressed-physician program. But she couldn’t afford it. And a year later, Thomas’s staff membership and clinical privileges were revoked. Medical board records say there were “concerns of an ongoing pattern of disciplinary and behavior issues and poor judgement.”

Unable to practice — or afford $800 in monthly rent — Thomas moved into Looney’s trailer, declared bankruptcy and let her medical license expire. Last July, the Virginia Board of Medicine ordered a hearing to investigate whether she might have broken any medical laws when she prescribed narcotics to Looney and declined help for a diagnosed mental illness.

In September, Thomas contested the bipolar diagnosis at a board hearing, records show. The diagnosis was made too quickly, she said, proffering a separate evaluation conducted by a psychologist whom she had paid. The doctor, who diagnosed Thomas with depression in “complete remission,” said in the evaluation that the Olympian’s erratic behavior was not a symptom of bipolar disorder, but “naivete, overconfidence, and her expectation that if she works hard enough, she can overcome any obstacle. . . . Her experience as a world-class figure skater reinforced this expectation and confidence.”

In October, the board, citing her expired license, took no action.

It’s 9 a.m. inside the trailer, but Looney has been up for hours, worrying. The only money they have coming in is from some Social Security checks on account of the death of his children’s mother. He looks around the mobile home. He says he wants to get out of here, but doesn’t know how.

Just then, Thomas arrives from the bedroom and nestles next to him on the couch. He hands her a cup of coffee. She has just finished talking to a prospective Karatbars recruit. “I just had a really interesting conversation with a lady,” she says. “This lady completely gets me.”

“She sounded to me like she was jacked up,” Looney says of the woman, whom he had overheard speaking with Thomas.

The pair so rarely agrees that spending time with them can feel like sitting in on a couples’ therapy session. He wanted to get a job in the mines; she said he shouldn’t. She wanted him to do the “Fix My Life” show; he thought he would be embarrassed on national television. He hates their mobile home; she loves it, expressing disdain for “superficial” things.

In fact, Thomas says she loves almost everything about their life in Richlands. And there’s reason to believe her. “I didn’t know we even had this beauty in this country,” she said. “No one ever treated me badly” in Richlands, she added. “And I was like, ‘I like it here.’ ”

These days, she doesn’t have to shoulder the pressure of being the first black anything. She doesn’t have to worry about medical exams, whether a patient will recover or if her practice will succeed — because it already failed. And she and Looney, who has been clean since 2012, say they’ve calmed their relationship with a 12-step recovery program.

“I expected to be one of the leaders in joint-replacement therapy,” said Thomas, now writing a book about her life. “That was what my image was. Then I had an experience that totally changed my mind.”

On a recent afternoon, a light snow sprinkled the trailer with white. Looney and his two boys barreled outside to play. Thomas pulled on her red, poofy coat. She walked off by herself, toward the river. She tilted her head back and, with arms held out wide, was quiet as the snow pattered on her face.

Looney asked what she was doing. She said she was recreating the iconic scene from “The Shawshank Redemption,” when character Andy Dufresne escaped prison following decades of false imprisonment and assumed the same posture in the rain.

“I’m free,” Thomas called out to him. “Don’t you get it?”

Thanks for your attention.

Black History Month 2016 Day 26

Today we will visit Godfrey Cambridge.

Source: Gale Biography in Context

Picture Credit: Reenied

Godfrey MacArthur Cambridge 1933-1976

Godfrey MacArthur Cambridge 1933-1976

Godfrey MacArthur Cambridge, (Feb. 26, 1933 – Nov. 29, 1976), actor and comedian, was born in the Harlem section of New York City, the son of Sarah and Alexander Cambridge, who had emigrated from British Guiana to Sydney, Nova Scotia, before arriving in New York. His father worked at blue-collar jobs, despite his skill as a bookkeeper; his mother worked in the garment district, although she was a skilled stenographer and had been a teacher in Guiana. His parents sent Cambridge to live with his grandparents in Sydney, Nova Scotia, so that he could attend school there. His grandfather was a coal miner and also operated a small grocery store. Cambridge’s grandparents were strong disciplinarians who were not averse to corporal punishment.

Cambridge rejoined his parents when he was thirteen years old and entered high school in the Queens neighborhood of Flushing, where he was popular and active in extracurricular activities. A superior student, he graduated in three years and was awarded a scholarship to Hofstra College (now Hofstra University) in Hempstead, N.Y. He entered Hofstra in 1951 intending to pursue premedical studies with a major in psychology. Early on, however, he became interested in acting and switched his major to English. (As a child he entertained his family and friends with his comic talents.) While at Hofstra, he played one of the murderers in Macbeth in his first onstage experience. He left Hofstra in 1953 when his grief over his father’s death, overwork, and a renewed awareness of his “blackness,” when taunted by members of a new fraternity on campus, made studying difficult. Of this incident he later said, “I couldn’t concentrate any more. All my life I ignored being colored. I never felt racial prejudice because I was the only Negro…. It’s terrible for someone to reach the age of 21 and realize he’s Negro, to spend all that time leading a sheltered life.” In 1954 he enrolled as a drama major at City College (CCNY), but he left before he received his degree. Later in life he admitted that he did not “recommend dropping out to anyone.” Cambridge then considered joining the paratroopers but was classified 4F.

While working at various odd jobs, Cambridge acted in his free time in church groups and sought full-time work as an actor. His first professional acting part was as a bartender in the off-Broadway production Take a Giant Step (1956), and his first Broadway show was Nature’s Way. But acting jobs were scarce, and he was continually turned away by casting directors who told him, “We can’t use you because there’s no Negro part.” To which he would reply, “Use me and I’ll make it Negro.” Later in his career he played “male” rather than “Negro” roles, that is, an Irishman in The Trouble-maker (1964), a CIA agent in The President’s Analyst, a concert violinist in The Biggest Bundle, and a Jewish cab driver in Bye Bye Braverman.

His first major acting role was as a white woman in the off-Broadway production of Genet’s The Blacks (1961). Cambridge was a critical success and received an Obie Award. After that, he played the role of Uncle Gitlow in the Broadway production of Purlie Victorious, a part that playwright Ossie Davis wrote especially for him. For that performance he received an Antoinette Perry (“Tony”) Award nomination in 1962. He repeated his role in the film version of this play, Gone Are the Days! (1963). Godfrey was part of an improvisational group, The Living Premise, and for six months in 1963 appeared in its satirical review. Before The Blacks, he had bit parts on Broadway in Detective Story and Lost in the Stars. One of his most successful roles was that of Pseudolus the slave in the road production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a role Zero Mostel had played on Broadway. In his last show he joined Molly Picon in How to Be a Jewish Mother (1967).

Among the films in which Cambridge performed were The Last Angry Man (1959), The President’s Analyst(1967), The Busy Body (1967), The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968), and Bye Bye Braverman (1968). The Night the Sun Came Out was the original title for his next film, released as Watermelon Man (1970), in which he appeared as a white man who finds himself suddenly with black skin. The title change caused Cambridge to break his friendship with the director Melvin Van Peebles, contending that too many violent things were happening to blacks for them to accept such a title. His last pictures were Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) and its sequel, Come Back Charleston Blue (1972).

Cambridge also had considerable television exposure, appearing on such programs as “The U.S. Steel Hour,” “Naked City,” “Search for Tomorrow,” “Ellery Queen,” “I’ve Got a Secret,” and “Sergeant Bilko.” He attributed his acceptance as a television comedian to his three appearances on “The Tonight Show” with Jack Paar in 1964. The following year he received an Emmy Award for his role in “Beyond the Blues,” the premier episode of the experimental CBS series “Stage II.” In 1968 he signed a ten-year contract with CBS-TV.

As a stand-up comedian, Cambridge wrote his own material and he performed in some of the best cafés and supper clubs in the country. His routines were funny, but he was no proselytizer; he maintained that “I don’t do a racial act. I do a funny act.” His comedy routines were recorded on the Epic label: Them Cotton Pickin’ Days Is Over, Godfrey Cambridge Toys with the World, The Godfrey Cambridge Show and his first, Ready or Not, Here’s Godfrey Cambridge (1964), which became one of the top five best-selling albums at the time of its release.

His philosophical orientation may be inferred from these quotations: “I’ve got a responsibility not only to myself but to those 20 million black folks out there,” and “I’m interested in black kids having heroes. I’ve given up being ashamed of Africa, ashamed of who I was, ashamed of that hair pomade because I didn’t have any heroes.” Shunning violence, Cambridge almost continually found himself fighting the little man’s battles, jousting with taxi drivers who refused to pick up blacks; with real estate people who not only overcharged blacks but defrauded them; and with other low-level bureaucrats.

A voracious eater, Cambridge fought the problem of obesity throughout his adult life. He was five feet, ten and a half inches tall, and his weight fluctuated between a high of 370 pounds and a low of 180 pounds. Of one instance of weight loss, he said, “I’ve lost 12 Twiggies”– the reference is to slim British actress Twiggy.

Cambridge sought peace of mind in reading; he maintained that “You can’t be a public person 24 hours a day.” He enjoyed the classics, but his serious reading also included speeches of Malcolm X and Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice (1968), this last considered by him to be “the most definitive book written on the racial question in many a year.” Cambridge, a social person at heart, numbered among his friends James Earl Jones, Harry Belafonte, Ossie Davis, Robert Culp, Bill Cosby, and Sidney Poitier. “God” was Poitier’s nickname for Cambridge. His friend Sammy Davis, Jr., was responsible for his intense interest in photography.

Louie Robinson, writing in Ebony in 1967, estimated that Cambridge was earning a quarter of a million dollars per year. Earnings were augmented by income from his record royalties, his business interests in several singers, his investment in Royal Crown sodas, his writing (he wrote for Monocle, a British publication; his book Put-Downs and Put-Ons was published in 1967), and his board game, 50 Easy Steps to the White House. Nevertheless, he lived relatively frugally. While married to actress Barbara Ann Teer (1962-1965), he lived in a middle-income housing development in New York City. After a divorce that left him bitter, he moved to a four-and-a half room West End Avenue apartment in Manhattan. In 1974 he moved to an expensive home in Ridgefield, Conn.

Cambridge died of a heart attack on the Warner Brothers set of Victory at Entebbe (1976), while playing the role of Uganda’s president, Idi Amin. A funeral service was held on Dec. 1, 1976, at the Hollywood Church of the Hills and Cambridge was interred in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Thanks for your attention.


Black History Month 2016 Day 25

Today we will visit Mike Tyson.

Source: Biography

Picture Credit: Typepad

Mike Tyson Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion

Mike Tyson Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion

Mike Tyson is a former heavyweight boxing champion who’s served jail time and appeared in several films.


Born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 30, 1966, Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight boxing champion of the world in 1986, at age 20. He lost the title in 1990 and later served three years in prison over rape charges. He subsequently earned further notoriety by biting Evander Holyfield’s ear during a rematch in 1997. Tyson has gone on to appear in several films, including a documentary and Broadway show on his life.

Early Life

Michael Gerard Tyson was born on June 30, 1966, in Brooklyn, New York, to parents Jimmy Kirkpatrick and Lorna Tyson. When Michael was two years old his father abandoned the family, leaving Lorna to care for Michael and his two siblings, Rodney and Denise. Struggling financially, the Tyson family moved to Brownsville, Brooklyn, a neighborhood known for its high crime.

Small and shy, Tyson was often the target of bullying. To combat this, he began developing his own style of street fighting, which ultimately transitioned into criminal activity. His gang, known as the Jolly Stompers, assigned him to clean out cash registers while older members held victims at gunpoint. He was only 11 years old at the time. He frequently ran into trouble with police over his petty criminal activities, and by the age of 13, he had been arrested more than 30 times.

Tyson’s bad behavior landed him in the Tryon School for Boys, a reform school in upstate New York. At Tryon, Tyson met counselor Bob Stewart, who had been an amateur boxing champion. Tyson wanted Stewart to teach him how to use his fists. Stewart reluctantly agreed, on the condition that Mike would stay out of trouble and work harder in school. Previously classified as learning disabled, Mike managed to raise his reading abilities to the seventh-grade level in a matter of months. He also became determined to learn everything he could by about boxing, often slipping out of bed after curfew to practice punches in the dark.

In 1980, Stewart felt he had taught Tyson all he knew. He introduced the aspiring boxer to legendary boxing manager Constantine “Cus” D’Amato, who had a gym in Catskill, New York. D’Amato was known for taking personal interest in promising fighters, even providing them room and board in the home he shared with companion Camille Ewald. He had handled the careers of several successful boxers, including Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres, and he immediately recognized Tyson’s promise as a heavyweight contender, telling him, “If you want to stay here, and if you want to listen, you could be the world heavyweight champion someday.” Tyson agreed to stay.

The relationship between D’Amato and Tyson was more than that of a professional trainer and a boxer—it was also one of a father and son. D’Amato took Tyson under his wing, and when the 14-year-old was paroled from Tryon in September 1980, he entered into D’Amato’s full-time custody. D’Amato set a rigorous training schedule for the young athlete, sending him to Catskill High School during the day and training in the ring every evening. D’Amato also entered Tyson in amateur boxing matches and “smokers,” or non-sanctioned fights, in order to teach the teen how to deal with older opponents.

Tyson’s life seemed to be looking up, but in 1982, he suffered several personal losses. That year, Tyson’s mother died of cancer. “I never saw my mother happy with me and proud of me for doing something,” he later told reporters. “She only knew of me as being a wild kid running the streets, coming home with new clothes that she knew I didn’t pay for. I never got a chance to talk to her or know about her. Professionally, it has no effect, but it’s crushing emotionally and personally.” Around this same time, Tyson was expelled from Catskill High for his erratic, often violent behavior.

Tyson continued his schooling through private tutors while he trained for the 1984 Olympic trials. Tyson’s showing in the trials, however, did not promise great success; he lost to the eventual gold medalist, Henry Tillman. After failing to make the Olympic team, D’Amato decided that it was time for his fighter to turn professional. The trainer conceived a game plan that would result in breaking the heavyweight championship for Tyson before the young man’s 21st birthday, breaking the record originally set by Floyd Patterson.

Early Career

On March 6, 1985, Tyson made his professional debut in Albany, New York, against Hector Mercedes. The 18-year-old knocked Mercedes out in one round. Tyson’s strength, quick fists and his notable defensive abilities intimidated his opponents, who were often afraid to hit the fighter. This gave Tyson the uncanny ability to level his opponents in only one round, and earned him the nickname “Iron Mike.”

The year was a successful one for Tyson, but it was not without its tragedies. On November 4, 1985, D’Amato died of pneumonia. Tyson was rocked by the death of the man he considered his surrogate father. Boxing trainer Kevin Rooney took over D’Amato’s coaching duties and, less than two weeks later, Tyson continued on the path that D’Amato had laid out for him. He recorded his thirteenth knockout in Houston, Texas, and dedicated the fight to D’Amato. Although he seemed to recover well from D’Amato’s passing, those close to Tyson say that the boxer never fully recovered from the loss. Many attributed the boxer’s future behavior to the loss of the man that had previously grounded and supported him.

By 1986, at the age of 20, Tyson had garnered a 22-0 record—21 of the fights won by knockout. On November 22, 1986, Tyson finally reached his goal: He was given his first title fight against Trevor Berbick for the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship. Tyson won the title by a knockout in the second round. At the age of 20 years and four months, he beat Patterson’s record, becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history.

Tyson’s success in the ring didn’t stop there. He defended his title against James Smith on March 7, 1987, adding the World Boxing Association championship to his list of victories. On August 1 he became the first heavyweight to own all three major boxing belts when he won the International Boxing Federation title from Tony Tucker.

Marriage and Arrests

Tyson’s rise from childhood delinquent to boxing champ put him at the center of the media’s attentions. Met with sudden fame, Tyson began partying hard and stepping out with various Hollywood stars. Around this time, Tyson set his sights on television actress Robin Givens. The couple began dating, and on February 7, 1988, he and Givens married in New York.

But Tyson’s game seemed to be on the decline, and after several close calls in the ring, it became clear that the boxer’s edge was slipping. Once known for his complicated offensive and defensive moves, Tyson seemed to continually rely on his one-punch knockout move to finish his bouts. The boxer blamed his long-time trainer, Rooney, for his struggle in the ring and fired him in mid 1988.

As his game was falling apart, so was Tyson’s marriage to Givens. Allegations of spousal abuse began to surface in the media in June of 1988, and Givens and her mother demanded access to Tyson’s money for a down payment on a $3 million home in New Jersey. That same year, police were called to Tyson’s home after he began throwing furniture out of the window and forced Givens and her mother to leave the home.

That summer, Tyson also found himself in court with manager Bill Cayton, in an effort to break their contract. By July 1988, Cayton had settled out of court, agreeing to reduce his share from one-third to 20 percent of Tyson’s purses. Soon after, Tyson struck up a partnership with boxing promoter Don King. The move seemed like a step in the right direction for the boxer, but his life was spiraling out of control both in and out of the ring.

Tyson’s behavior during this time became increasingly violent and erratic. In August 1988, he broke a bone in his right hand after a 4 a.m. street brawl with professional fighter Mitch Green. The next month, Tyson was knocked unconscious after driving his BMW into a tree at D’Amato’s home. Tabloids later claimed the accident was a suicide attempt brought on from excessive drug use. He was fined $200 and sentenced to community service for speeding.

Later that September, Givens and Tyson appeared in an interview with Barbara Walters in which Givens described her marriage as “pure hell.” Shortly thereafter, she announced that she was filing for divorce. Tyson countersued for a divorce and an annulment, beginning an ugly months-long court process.

This was just the beginning of Tyson’s struggles with women. In late 1988, Tyson was sued for his inappropriate attentions toward two nightclub patrons, Sandra Miller and Lori Davis. The women sued Tyson for allegedly forcefully grabbing, propositioning and insulting them while out dancing.

On February 14, 1989, Tyson’s split with Givens became official.

Imprisonment and Return to Boxing

Tyson stepped back into the ring with British boxer Frank Bruno in an effort to retain his world heavyweight title. Tyson went on to knock out Bruno in the fifth round, and keep his status as world champ. On July 21, 1989, Tyson defended his title again, knocking out Carl “The Truth” Williams in one round. Tyson’s winning streak came to an end on February 11, 1990, however, when he lost his championship belt to boxer Buster Douglas in Tokyo, Japan. Tyson, the clear favorite, sent Douglas to the mat in the eighth round, but Douglas came back in the tenth, knocking Tyson out for the first time in his career.

Discouraged but not ready to give up, Tyson recovered by knocking out Olympic gold medalist—and former amateur boxing adversary—Henry Tillman later that year. In another bout, he defeated Alex Stewart by a knockout in the first round.

But Tyson lost his fight in court on November 1, 1990, when a New York City civil jury sided with Sandra Miller for the barroom incident of 1988. Then in July of 1991, Tyson was accused of raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black American contestant. On March 26, 1992, after nearly a year of trial proceedings, Tyson was found guilty on one count of rape and two counts of deviant sexual conduct. Because of Indiana state laws, Tyson was ordered to serve six years in prison, effective immediately.

Tyson initially handled his stint in prison poorly, and was found guilty of threatening a guard while in prison, adding 15 days to his sentence. That same year, Tyson’s father died. The boxer didn’t request leave to attend the funeral. While imprisoned, Tyson converted to Islam, and adopted the name Malik Abdul Aziz.

On March 25, 1995, after serving three years of his sentence, Tyson was released from the Indiana Youth Center near Plainfield, Indiana. Already planning his comeback, Tyson arranged his next fight with Peter McNeeley in Las Vegas, Nevada. On August 19, 1995, Tyson won the fight, knocking out McNeeley in just 89 seconds. Tyson also won his next match in December 1995, knocking out Buster Mathis Jr. in the third round.

Holyfield Fight

After his personal and professional setbacks, Tyson seemed to be making a positive change in his life. After several successful fights, Tyson came head-to-head with his next big challenger: Evander Holyfield. Holyfield had been promised a title shot against Tyson in 1990, but before that fight could occur Douglas defeated Tyson. Instead of fighting Tyson, Holyfield fought Douglas for the heavyweight title. Douglas lost by knockout on October 25, 1990, making Holyfield the new undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

On November 9, 1996, Tyson faced Holyfield for the heavyweight title. The evening would not end successfully for Tyson, who lost to Holyfield by a knockout in the 11th round. Instead of Tyson’s anticipated victory, Holyfield made history by becoming the second person to win a heavyweight championship belt three times. Tyson claimed he was the victim of multiple illegal head butts by Holyfield, and vowed to avenge his loss.

Tyson trained heavily for a rematch with Holyfield, and on June 28, 1997, the two boxers faced off yet again. The fight was televised on pay-per-view and entered nearly 2 million households, setting a record at the time for the highest number of paid television viewers. Both boxers also received record purses for the match, making them the highest-paid professional boxers in history until 2007.

The first and second rounds provided the typical crowd-pleasing action expected from the two champions. But the fight took an unexpected turn in the third round of the match. Tyson shocked fans and boxing officials when he grabbed Holyfield and bit both of the boxer’s ears, completely severing a piece of Holyfield’s right ear. Tyson claimed that the action was retaliation for Holyfield’s illegal head butts from their previous match. Judges didn’t agree with Tyson’s reasoning, however, and disqualified the boxer from the match.

On July 9, 1997, the Nevada State Athletic Commission revoked Tyson’s boxing license in a unanimous voice vote, and fined the boxer $3 million for biting Holyfield. No longer able to fight, Tyson was aimless and unmoored. Several months later, Tyson was dealt another blow when he was ordered to pay boxer Mitch Green $45,000 for his 1988 street-fighting incident. Shortly after the court ruling, Tyson landed in the hospital after his motorcycle skidded out of control on a ride through Connecticut. The former boxer broke a rib and punctured a lung.

Don King Lawsuit, Lewis Fight and Retirement

Tyson landed in court yet again, this time in 1998 as a plaintiff. On March 5, 1998, the boxer filed a $100 million lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York against Don King, accusing the promoter of cheating him out of millions of dollars. He also filed a lawsuit against his former managers Rory Holloway and John Horne, claiming they made King Tyson’s exclusive promoter without the boxer’s knowledge. King and Tyson settled out of court for $14 million. Tyson alledgedly lost millions in the process.

In the wake of several more lawsuits, including another sexual harassment trial and a $22 million suit filed by Rooney for wrongful termination, Tyson struggled to reinstate his boxing license. In July 1998, the boxer reapplied for his boxing license in New Jersey, but later withdrew his application before the board could meet to discuss his case. A few weeks later, in yet another outburst, Tyson assaulted two motorists after a car accident in Maryland dented his Mercedes.

In October 1998, Tyson’s boxing license was reinstated. Tyson was back in the ring only a few months before he plead no contest for his attack on the motorists in Maryland. The judge sentenced Tyson to two concurrent two-year sentences for the assault, but was given only one year of jail time, a $5,000 fine and 200 hours of community service. He was released after serving nine months, and went straight back into the ring.

The next several years were marred with more accusations of physical assaults, sexual harassment, and public incidents. Then, in 2000, a random drug test revealed that Tyson had been smoking marijuana. The results caused boxing officials to penalize Tyson by declaring his victory against boxer Andrew Golota a loss.

His next highly publicized fight would be in 2002 with WBC, IBF and IBO champion Lennox Lewis. Tyson was once again fighting for the heavyweight championship, and the match was a very personal one. Tyson made several remarks to Lewis before the fight, including a threat to “eat his children.” At a January press conference, the two boxers began a brawl that threatened to cancel the match, but the fight was eventually scheduled for June of that year. Tyson lost the fight by a knockout, and the defeat signaled the decline of the former champion’s career. After losing several more fights throughout 2003 and 2005, Tyson announced his retirement.

Personal Life

Tyson also suffered in his personal life around this time. After six years of marriage, second wife Monica Turner filed for divorce in 2003, on grounds of adultry. That same year, he filed for bankruptcy after his exorbitant spending, multiple trials and bad investments caught up with him. In an attempt to pay off his debts, Tyson stepped back into the ring for a series of exhibition fights.

To curb expenses, the boxer also sold his upscale mansion in Farmington, Connecticut, to rapper 50 Cent for a little more than $4 million. He crashed on friends’ couches and slept in shelters until he landed in Phoenix, Arizona. There, in 2005, he purchased a home in Paradise Valley for $2.1 million, which he financed by endorsing products and making cameos on television and in boxing exhibitions.

But Tyson’s hard-partying ways caught up with him again in late 2006. Tyson was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona, after nearly crashing into a police SUV. Suspected of driving while intoxicated, police pulled Tyson over and searched his car. During the search, the police discovered cocaine and drug paraphernalia throughout the vehicle. On September 24, 2007, Mike Tyson pleaded guilty to possession of narcotics and driving under the influence. He was sentenced to 24 hours in jail, 360 hours of community service and three years’ probation.

Tyson’s life seemed to mellow over the next few years, and the boxer began seeking sobriety by attending Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. But in 2009, Tyson was dealt another blow when his 4-year-old daughter, Exodus, accidentally strangled herself on a treadmill cord in her mother’s Phoenix home. The tragedy marked yet another dark period in Tyson’s troubled life.

Tyson is the father of seven known children—Gena, Rayna, Amir, D’Amato Kilrain, Mikey Lorna, Miguel Leon and Exodus—with multiple women, some of whom continue to remain anonymous to the media.

Recent Projects and Problems

In 2009, Tyson returned to the spotlight with a cameo in the hit comedy The Hangover with Bradley Cooper. He married for a third time that same year, walking down the aisle with Lakiha “Kiki” Spicer. The couple has two children together, daughter Milan and son Morocco.

The success of his appearance as himself in The Hangover seemed to open the door to more acting opportunities, including guest appearances on such television series as Entourage, How I Met Your Mother and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2012, Tyson made his Broadway debut in his one-man show Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth directed by Spike Lee.

Tyson, however, acknowledged that he was once again battling substance abuse problems the following year. In August 2013, he revealed in an interview with Today host Matt Lauer that “When I start drinking and I relapse, I think of dying. When I’m in a real dark mood, I think of dying. And I don’t want to be around no more. I won’t survive unless I get help.” This revelation came while Tyson was reinventing himself as a boxing promoter. He also told Lauer that he had only been sober for 12 days at the time of the interview. After so many personal and professional ups and downs, it is unclear what will happen next for this legendary yet troubled sports figure.

In October 2014, Tyson’s animated venture Mike Tyson Mysteries, a comical crime-fighting spoof, premiered on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

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