Ernie Davis – First Black to Win the Heisman

It’s the last day in February and my last chance to highlight black history for black history month. I chose Ernie “The Elmira Express” Davis. He was the first black man to win the Heisman trophy. I chose Ernie because one of my favorite movies is “The Express” which highlighted his life and career. So, here’s what you need to know about Mr. Davis…

  • Ernie was an athletic prodigy.
  • He played baseball, basketball and football at Elmira Free Academy.
  • He earned high school All-American honors in basketball and football.
  • He led his basketball team to 52 consecutive victories.
  • His first love was football.
  • He was heavily recruited by some of college football’s top programs.
  • However, Jim Brown (NFL great) swayed him to attend his Alma mater.
  • He was a three-time All-American halfback.
  • He led Syracuse University to the national championship as a sophomore.
  • He won the Heisman Trophy in 1961.
  • He was the first black athlete picked in the NFL draft.
  • He never played a pro game because he died at age 23.
  • He died after contracting leukemia.
  • He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

Ernie Davis was an incredible athlete, person and son and we salute him on this last day of Black History Month!

 

40-erniedavisfamous1st

Advertisements

The Inventor: Mark Dean

It’s Black History Month folks!

As a black woman, I wanted to highlight some of the accomplishments of black people who are living. Each week, I will be researching and sharing tidbits about black people who are and/or have done great things. Bear with me because I promise you will learn something and I will keep it interesting.

First up is…

Dr. Mark Dean (March 2, 1957-present)

Dr. Dean was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee (my home state). He is a computer scientist, engineer and inventor. He landed a job at IBM after graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in engineering. While working at IBM he developed many new technologies. He currently holds three of their original nine patents. Impressive huh?

Dean developed the new Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus that allow devices like disk drives, printers and monitors to be plugged directly into computers. Where would we be if we didn’t have this early technology?

Dean’s research led to the development of the color PC monitor and, in 1999, he led a team of engineers to create the first gigahertz chip. Both are invaluable in terms of what we use today. Heck, I have a 24 inch computer monitor for my personal computer. Brilliant picture and color. Thanks Dr. Dean!

Dean has more 20 patents associated with his name. He is a brilliant man who was named an IBM fellow (first black ever to receive this award).He was honored with the Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Cool huh?

When asked by PC World, December of 2014, of all the technology you’ve had a hand in creating, what are you most proud of? He replied:

“I am most proud of the PC and the team it took to make it happen. We developed a device that changed the way society works, learns and plays. It enabled the world to be more productive and entertained. How many times does someone get to work on something that had the impact the PC had on the world?”

MED-Seated-without-Hands

A Great Man

Our life’s journey is about the people that touch us – Stuart Scott

I’m not a sports fan. I don’t get into sports. But I’ve always been around sports. My brother is a sports fan. My ex is a sports fan and apparently every man I know likes sports. So, I know some things about sports (although reluctantly). I know what ESPN is. I know who Stuart Scott was and I am saddened by his death.

Stuart Scott died earlier this week on January 4th when he lost his battle to cancer. He was 49. He was an incredible sports anchor, a father, a son and a brother. Many other roles would describe this man. Too many to name, but know that he was a cool dude by many standards.

I  remember the first time I heard him say his signature “Boo- Yah” and almost died. I never knew people talked like that on television. I was witnessing a trailblazer. He was that man who had “swag” whether it be from anchoring at the desk or in his interviews. He was a rarity.

So, when I decided I wanted to write this piece to honor a great man it came as a surprise to me to learn so many things about Stuart Scott. ESPN did a great job. Thanks to the internet you can see old interviews, research his history and review photos of Stuart’s life. He loved ESPN and ESPN undoubtedly loved him which is what I read in an article written by Steve Wulf that..

“He was a trailblazer,” says ESPN anchor Stan Verrett, “not only because he was black — obviously black — but because of his style, his demeanor, his presentation. He did not shy away from the fact that he was a black man, and that allowed the rest of us who came along to just be ourselves.”

“Yes, he brought hip-hop into the conversation,” says Harris, “but I would go further than that. He brought in the barber shop, the church, R&B, soul music. Soul, period.”

Amazing huh? How many journalists can you name that are as smooth as he and can weave hip-hop and barbershop into an interview?  This man was brilliant. A man whose legacy will forever live on. He is worthy to be remembered, studied and included in our history books because he changed the game. Not just in sports, but in journalism as well.

His ESPY speech brought tears to my eyes. Stuart Scott reminded us that…

“When you die it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live. So live.”

That message is for everyone and not just those with cancer. Understanding that your life has purpose. Regardless of the time you may spend on this earth. Know that like Scott says “how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live” are important.

RIP Stuart Scott.

To check out his ESPY speech watch the video below:

The History of Labor Day

It’s Labor Day folks!

What an incredible day to be off and just spending time with the family. That is what I did today. I headed to a BBQ thrown by my beautiful nephew’s mommy (Cameron). I had a ball. As I sat there enjoying both my wonderful nephew and my blended and interracial family, I was in awe at how blessed I am. My SILIT (sister in law in training) is not only a phenomenal mother, but a phenomenal person that comes from a great family. How awesome it is that we get to spend guaranteed time off with each other eating and making memories? But, why do we have a Labor Day holiday? I couldn’t recall from U.S. history class in high school where the true origin of Labor Day came from, so I hit the internet. I wanted to find out why the government recognizes Labor Day as a national holiday and you know what? It’s pretty interesting.

Labor Day originated in the late 1800’s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States.  At that time, most people worked 12 hours each day for 7 days straight barely squeaking by. In some states, children as young as 5 or 6 worked in factories earning a fraction of working adult’s wages. Can you imagine that? My munch is 6 and I can’t imagine him working to support the family. Hard times. But, beyond the fact that we were working folks to death and illegally the workers often faced extremely unsafe working conditions.

As manufacturing grew, so did the labor unions. They began organizing strikes and rallies. They were protesting the conditions and arguing for new salaries and hours. Many  of the strikes and rallies turned violent. It was on September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march in NYC, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country. However, Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later. Why did they wait 12 years to do it? Economics people! On June 26, the American Railroad Union (the union for all the railroads) called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars. This boycott inevitably crippled the railroad industry nationwide. Now imagine only having trains and horses to transport your items and now you can’t use the faster of the two. What do you think would happen?

So, in order to end the strike, the federal government stepped in and released troops. This only made things worse because riots happened and more than a dozen workers were killed. So, the government attempted to repair ties with the workers and Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. Cool huh? Many thanks to labor unions for organizing and requiring better wages and working conditions and many thanks to Congress for recognizing our labor.

Happy Labor Day!

 

ihy9412081

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

children-of-labor-a-finnish-american-history1