Monday, February 22, 2010

Celebrating Black History


The above photo is a scene from the just released film, 'Blood Done Sign My Name,' starring Nate Parker of 'The Great Debaters' fame. The film is based on real life events that happened in the small town of Oxford, North Carolina in 1970.

More about the film: "Jeb Stuart's Blood Done Sign My Name is an epic story of empowerment and the struggle for human justice based on the acclaimed book of the same name by prize winning author and scholar Timothy Tyson. Part family drama and part history of the civil rights movement in America's south, the film is set in Oxford, North Carolina in 1970 and recreates the circumstances surrounding the small town murder of Henry "Dickie" Marrow, a 23 year old black Vietnam veteran who was shot and beaten to death by one of Oxford's prominent white businessmen and his two grown sons. In response to the crime, and the sham trial that followed, many young African American men took to the streets, engaging in riots and vandalism. However, schoolteacher and burgeoning activist Ben Chavis (who was also Morrow's cousin) decided that the best way to protest the injustice was to organize a peaceful march on the state capitol. What began as a small group of outraged friends and relatives grew to a crowd of thousands over the three day, fifty mile trek to Raleigh. Ten years old at the time, Tim Tyson watched as his father, pastor of the town's all white Methodist church, tried to get his church to accept the inevitability of integration."

Nate Parker stars as Dr. Ben Chavis, who went on to become the head of the NAACP. Blood Done Sign My Name is now playing in select theaters. Visit the website at for theater locations and to view a snippet of the film. (Thanks Corby!)


I recently read an article titled, "The History of Black Hockey Players: Past and Present." I learned about black hockey players such as Herb Carnegie, the first black hockey superstar, and Willie O'Ree, the first black player in the NHL (who is blind in one eye). O'Ree currently works with the NHL's diversity initiative, Hockey Is For Everyone.

The Hockey Is For Everyone initiative is a component of the NHL's social responsibility program that provides support and programming to non profit youth hockey associations that are committed to offering youth from all backgrounds opportunities to play hockey. From the website, I learned of the many youth hockey organizations offered in urban communities - such as Ice Hockey in Harlem, and the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club in Washington, DC, which has the distinction as the oldest youth minority hockey program in the U.S. Visit the initiative's website for more youth hockey programs.


The Baltimore City Paper has a great article on Joe Gans, the first black American boxing champion (no, it wasn't Jack Johnson) and one the country's first black sports heroes. Nicknamed 'Old Master,' over 7,000 people attended his funeral - but his legacy has been long forgotten, especially in his native Baltimore. The 100th anniversary of his death is approaching this year, and there are no street signs or historical markers in his honor.

But a Southwest Airlines employee and part-time actor has made it his personal mission to resurrect Gans' memory, by attempting to raise $25,000 to have a wax figure made of the boxing champion to be placed in the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore. So far, he's convinced actors, local athletes and Negro League baseball players to attend his upcoming fundraiser February 26th at the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards. Read the article HERE.

Photo: Wikipedia

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