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Dick Gregory

Comedian, Civil Rights Activist, Diet Guru

Aretha Franklin 

Vocalist, Musician, Activist

Malcom X

Minister, Activist

Mum Bett  -  Civil Rights Activist 

Maurice Ashley - Grandmaster

  Octavia Spencer  - Actress / Producer

Zora Neale Hurston - Author

Alain LeRoy Locke - Philosopher

Langston Hughes - Poet

Black History Celebrated 1

Mum Bett - Civil Rights Activist

  Born into slavery in 1742, Mumbet (as she was then known) became the first woman to sue successfully for her freedom in the American Republic.  She was working for her slave owner, Colonel John Ashley, in Sheffield, Massachusetts when she heard people discussing the new Massachusetts Constitution and its Declaration of Rights.  She then approached attorney Theodore Sedgwick to bring a case in the Court of Common Pleas, arguing that she too had rights under this constitution.  The name of her fellow slave, Brom, was added to the case,  Brom and Bett v. Ashley, which in 1781, succeeded in winning them their freedom.  Afterwards, John Ashley asked her to return to his home as a paid employee, but instead she worked as a housekeeper and nurse for the Sedgwicks under her new name, Elizabeth Freeman.  She died in 1829 and was buried in the Sedgwick family plot. 
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Maurice Ashley - Grandmaster

 Maurice Ashley is a Jamaican American chess grandmaster, author, commentator, app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. In 1999 he earned the Grandmaster title, making him the world's first Grandmaster of a dark skin colour.  I was schooled by the best hustlers back in the day! This was actually in Washington Square Park  

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 Octavia Spencer will be an executive producer on the indie film, Mumbet, which is based on the film A Free Woman on God’s Earth by Jana Laiz and Ann-Elizabeth Barnes. 

List of available books can be found here:

Maurice Ashley playing 30 chess tables with the kids !! 

Black History Celebrated 2

Zora Neale Hurston - Author

 Zora Neale Hurston, (born January 7, 1891, Notasulga, Alabama, U.S.—died January 28, 1960, Fort Pierce, Florida), American folklorist and writer associated with the Harlem Renaissance who celebrated the African American culture of the rural South. 


Zora Neale Hurston is considered one of the pre-eminent writers of twentieth-century African-American literature. Hurston was closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance and has influenced such writers as Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Gayle Jones, Alice Walker, and Toni Cade Bambara.

In 1975, Ms. Magazine published Alice Walker's essay, "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" reviving interest in the author. Hurston's four novels and two books of folklore resulted from extensive anthropological research and have proven invaluable sources on the oral cultures of African America.

Through her writings, Robert Hemenway wrote in The Harlem Renaissance Remembered, Hurston "helped to remind the Renaissance--especially its more bourgeois members--of the richness in the racial heritage."


Alain LeRoy Locke

 Oct 16, 2014 - Alain LeRoy Locke was the first African American to be named a Rhodes Scholar. ... AlainLeRoy Locke was a philosopher best known for his writing on and support of the Harlem Renaissance.Alain LeRoy Locke was born on September 13, 1885, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 


Locke served as secretary and editor of the newly established Associates in Negro Folk Education. Between 1936 and 1942 this organization published nine "Bronze Booklets" written by leading African American scholars. Locke wrote two of these, Negro Art: Past and Present and The Negro and His Music, and edited a third, The Negro in Art: A Pictorial Record of the Negro Artist and of the Negro Theme in Art. The latter reemphasized his belief that African American artists should look to the works of their African ancestors for subject matter and styles to apply to modern painting and sculpture.

Locke continued his work in philosophy, actively promoting his theory of cultural pluralism (a society made up of several different cultures and their beliefs). This interest led to his pioneering 1942 social science anthology, coedited with Bernhard Stern, When Peoples Meet: A Study in Race and Culture Contacts, an examination of dominant and minority populations in various countries around the world.

Ossie Davis speaks about Dr. Locke:

Langston Hughes

Born: February 1, 1902
Died: May 22, 1967

Langston Hughes was one of the most important writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance, which was the African American artistic movement in the 1920s that celebrated black life and culture. His literary works helped shape American literature and politics. Hughes, like others active in the Harlem Renaissance, had a strong sense of racial pride. Through his poetry, novels, plays, essays, and children's books, he promoted equality, condemned racism and injustice, and celebrated African American culture, humor, and spirituality.

 Andrew Neuendorf discussing the influence of Hughes & Locke on the Harlem Renaissance

Angela Davis - Activist

Angela Davis, activist, educator, scholar, and politician, was born on January 26, 1944, in the “Dynamite Hill” area of Birmingham, Alabama.

Dick Gregory

Richard Claxton Gregory

Comedian, Civil Rights Activist, Diet Guru

Born October 12, 1932   St. Louis, MO

Died August 19, 2017

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Aretha Franklin

 "Aretha helped define the American experience," former President Barack Obama said in a statement "In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace." 

 She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1942, but was raised mostly in Detroit, where her father, C.L. Franklin, was a prominent minister and a nationally known gospel singer. Franklin sang in the choir of her father's church and, though she declined her dad's offer of piano lessons and taught herself instead, began recording gospel music at age 14. 

 The first woman admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she had 88 Billboard chart hits during the rock era, tops among female vocalists. At the peak of her career from 1967 to 1975 she had more than 24 Top 40 hits. 

 She won 18 Grammy awards, including the honor for best female R&B performance for eight straight years. 

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