changing perceptions and attitudes

EPISODE 18

Highlighting successful black people (non-entertainers/non-sports).

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Composer

Can you imagine Mozart being envious of another composer's success, especially a Black composer?

Such were the accomplishments of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint Georges, dubbed "le Mozart Noir" (Black Mozart). Born to a wealthy plantation owner and his African slave, Joseph Bologne was a prolific composer who wrote multiple symphonies and concertos in the late 18th century. He also led one of the best orchestras in Europe – Le Concert des Amateurs – and former US president John Adams judged him "the most accomplished man in Europe". It was during Joseph Bologne's heydays that Mozart was envious of his success as he (Mozart) struggled to get his own music heard.

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Episode 17

Ann Lowe

Ann Lowe was the first Black to become a noted fashion designer.

Ann Lowe's story is an inspirational example of overcoming adversity. She was born in 1898 during the oppressive days of Jim Crowe laws. She went to a segregated design school where she had to study all alone in a room. She never gained recognition for her earlier work so opened up her own store in 1950. However, her talent spoke for itself and over her career she designed clothes for the who's who of high society in NYC.

Ann Lowe is best known for designing Jacqueline Bouvier's dress for her wedding to JFK. Her dresses are now on permanent display at the Met and the Smithsonian.

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Episode 16

Jacob Lawrence

Think Black painters and most people would stop at Basquiat.

Unfortunately, not enough people have heard of Jacob Lawrence, truly one of the most eminent Black painters of the 20th century. Jacob Lawrence developed his unique modernism style and is best known for creating narrative series of paintings with 30 or more paintings on one subject. A prolific painter, Jacob Lawrence painted up until just a few weeks before his death in 2000.

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Episode 15

Beverley Loraine Greene

Beverly Loraine Greene was the first black female architect licensed in the United States, in Illinois, in 1942. She started her career in Chicago with the Chicago Housing Authority, but moved to New York City, as a result of racial prejudice and a subsequent lack of work. In New York, she worked on the Stuyvesant Town housing project, which at the time in 1945 barred African Americans from living in its apartments.

Greene went on to work with some of the most renowned international modernists, including Edward Durell Stone on the Sarah Lawrence College arts complex and Marcel Breuer on the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

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Episode 14

Edward Bouchet

Edward Bouchet was the first black to receive a PhD in the United States, graduating with a PhD in Physics from Yale University in 1876.

An excellent student, Edward Bouchet was valedictorian of his high school and ranked sixth in his graduation class at Yale. Unable to find a university teaching position, he taught throughout his career at black-only educational institutions. His legacy lives in the form of the Edward A. Bouchet Award, the American Physical Society's award given each year to underrepresented minorities in Physics.

Can't wait for the day when such awards themselves become obsolete!

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Episode 13

Matt Jackson

Everyone has heard of Ken Jennings with over $4.5M in Jeopardy winnings. However, you may not have heard of Matt Jackson.

He's the star of Episode 13 of #thisisblacktoo ((our take on highlighting successful black non-entertainers/non-sports). Matt Jackson is the leading black winner on Jeopardy. He has won over $400,000 on Jeopardy and had an incredible 13-game win streak in 2015. He became quite a sensation with his smile and celebratory "boom". One for the history books for sure.

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Episode 12

DORI SANDERS

Only 1.3% of farms in US are now black-owned. One of them, in South Carolina, belongs to Dori Sanders and has been in the family for over 100 years.

Dori Sanders is the owner of Sanders Peach Farm in York, SC. Dori, now in her 80s, is a fourth-generation farmer and is still actively farming her 100+ year old 250-acre family farm. The farm stand is closed right now during Covid19, but Dori is already working on her next project. Turns out she's also an accomplished author and food novelist. Her first novel, Clover, won the Lilian Smith Book Award, in 1990.

Can't wait to see what she writes about next.

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Episode 11

Don Peebles

There are 1.3 million real estate agents in the US. And then, there's Don Peebles.

He is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the Peebles Corporation, the largest black-owned real estate developer in the country. Starting with his first development of an office building in 1986, Peebles has now developed over 10 million square feet of developments worth over $8 Billion. His developments include various landmark projects, including the Royal Palm Hotel in Miami Beach (the first major hotel developed and owned by a black) to Angels Landing in Los Angeles (one of the tallest buildings in Western USA).

Click below to learn more about this truly remarkable self-made man.

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Episode 10

David Blackwell

Born and raised in Illinois, David Blackwell was a pioneering statistician and game theorist. In addition to the monumental work that defined his career, Blackwell also fought and broke numerous racial barriers and was the first African-American to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.

In a testament to how things have changed, David Blackwell was originally refused a position at UC Berkeley, today's liberal bastion! He spent 12 years at primarily black institutions and finally joined UC Berkeley faculty in 1955. He was the first black person inducted into the National Academy of Sciences (1965) and in 1979 received the John von Neumann Theory Prize, one of theoretical mathematics' highest honors.

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Episode 9

Zora Neale Hurston

Although most famous as an author and activist, Zora Neale Hurston was also one of the most prominent black anthropologists of the last century.

She did groundbreaking research at Barnard College and Columbia College. Interested in African-American and Caribbean identity, she traveled extensively in the region. She gathered a lot of information including extensive folklore and music collections. A lot of this work eventually became the seed for her future novels and writings.

Imagine the stories she could tell over dinner.

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Episode 8

Macon Bolling Allen

Can you imagine being born in US and having to pass a bar exam 44 years later to be declared a citizen of the state?

That's the story of Macon Bolling Allen, the first black licensed lawyer and the first black judge in the US.

He was born a free man in 1816, but had to pass the bar in 1844 in Maine to be declared a citizen of the state. Self taught, Macon Allen, also passed bar exams in Massachusetts, South Carolina, and DC. He went on to become the first black judge in 1873 in South Carolina

This is what real pioneers look like.

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Episode 7

William Leidesdorff

First black millionaire and one of the co-founders of San Francisco!

WIlliam Leidesdorff, was a biracial black (African-Cuban) and owned more than 35,000 acres south of the American River. His estate was worth $1.45M ($30M today!) at the time of his death, not including vast gold deposits on his estate.

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Episode 6

Matthew Alexander Henson

A true maverick, Matthew Henson, was an arctic explorer and is reputed to be the first man to reach the north pole (although Peary being the expedition leader claimed the feat). There are probably other historical records like this that need correcting.

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Episode 5

Daniel Hale Williams

First surgeon to perform open heart surgery in the US was way back in 1893, and he happened to be black.

A true medical pioneer, Daniel Williams also opened the first interracial hospital in Chicago and co-founded the National Medical Association (AMA did not accept blacks then!).

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Episode 4

Garrett Morgan

Next time you are at a traffic light, thank Garrett Morgan for safely crossing intersections. He's the inventor of the modern three-position traffic light.

Garrett Morgan was a prolific inventor who had inventions and patents in varied areas; from the modern gas mask, to hair care products, to sewing machines. He was also involved with the civil rights movement, especially in-and-around Cleveland, OH. His father was a former slave, he was in school only until 6th grade, and he had to start work at the age of 14. Yet he paid for his own private tutors, and the rest, as they say is history. Nothing can hold back some folks!

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Episode 3

Ralph Bunche

First black person to win the Nobel Prize. He was an American political scientist, academic and diplomat.

Among various lifetime achievements, most widely known for his mediation in Israel in late 1940s (for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize) and significant contribution to the formation and management of United Nations. Also made significant contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.

What a great personality! And yet, most of us have never heard of him.

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Episode 2

Robert F. Smith

A lot of you may already know of him. Billionaire, philanthropist, and Founder/CEO of Vista Equity Partners.

Did not know this but Vista is now the 4th largest enterprise software company in the world (30 portfolio companies, 60K+ employees). Also a great philanthropist e.g. recently paid of student loans for entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College. If there is ever an example of overachievement in the black community, Robert Smith exemplifies it!

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Episode 1

George Washington Carver

The post where it all began!

George Washington Carver was a leading botanist who did some groundbreaking work at the Tuskegee Institute on soil depletion and promotion of peanuts. He was also a great environmentalist. Truly inspirational!

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