Fun Facts from BLACK HISTORY blog February 2021
*Born James Cleveland Owens, the track star was called “J.C.” by his family. On his first day of Elementary School the teacher misheard his Alabama drawl and thought he said his name was “Jesse” instead of “J.C.” Owens was too shy to correct his new teacher in front of his new classmates, and he was called “Jesse” for the rest of his life. 🙂
*Jesse Owens and the German athlete he beat in the 1936 Olympics, Luz Long, became friends during the Olympics, and Luz went as far as to congratulate and embrace Owens after the win with the utmost sportsmanship. They remained in correspondence until Long was killed in Sicily when the Allies invaded the island. Owens said: “It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler. You can melt down all the medals and cups I have, and they wouldn’t be a plating on the twenty-four karat friendship that I felt for Luz Long at that moment.”
*Jesse Owens won those gold medals wearing shoes given to him by Adolf “Adi” Dassler, the founder of Adidas who was also a Nazi. German shoemaker Adolf “Adi” Dassler didn’t view the Berlin Games as a vehicle for Nazi propaganda but as a chance to launch his humble athletic shoe business.
Billionaires & Millionaires:
*Self-Made Millionaire: Madam C.J. Walker is recorded as the first female self-made millionaire in America in the Guinness Book of World Records. She was born on a cotton plantation in Louisiana and became wealthy after inventing a line of African American hair care products. She established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories and was known as a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and a political and social activist.
*There are 614 billionaires in the United States, and only 7 of them are Black: Robert F. Smith/David Steward/Oprah Winfrey/Michael Jordan/Kanye West/Jay-Z/Tyler Perry/Robert Johnson became the first African American billionaire when he sold the cable station he founded, Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 2001.
*Denzel Washington is well known for his philanthropy, having made large charitable donations such as $1 milllion to the Children’s Fund of South Africa, $2.5 million to the Church of God, and a large undisclosed amount to the Brooke Army Medical Center. But the FUNNIEST story is of a time when Denzel was out with friends when a homeless man asked him for money. The actor’s entourage ignored the beggar, but Washington handed him a $100 bill. The man began to cry, then grabbed a passerby and choked out, “Will Smith just gave me a hundred bucks!”
*Oscar Winner: In 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African American performer to win an Academy Award, for her portrayal of a loyal slave governess in Gone With the Wind./1963 Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field/ 1982 Louis Gossett, Jr. for An Officer and a Gentlemen/ 1989 Denzel Washington for Glory/1990 Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost/1996 Cuba Gooding, Jr. for Jerry Maguire/2001 Denzel Washington for Training Day/2001 Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball/2004 Jamie Foxx for Ray/2004 Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby/2006 Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland/2006 Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls/2009 Mo’Nique for Precious/2011 Octavia Spencer for The Help/2014 Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
*Additionally- 50 MORE Black actors have been nominated for Academy Awards.
In the WHITE HOUSE:
The NOT SO SAVORY history of black history in the White House: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7016269-the-black-history-of-the-white-house
*President Barack Obama: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9475947-barack-obama?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=4nuk0yXP9o&rank
44th President, was the first African American President of the United States of America. Here are some FUN facts: *He owns a set of boxing gloves used by Muhammad Ali! *He has read all 7 Harry Potter books! *Was named Time Magazines Person of the year TWICE *Was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.”
*Michelle Obama: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38746485-becoming
First African American First Lady. Facts about our former first lady: *she exercises a lot and promotes healthy eating but her guilty pleasure is FRENCH FRIES! 🙂 *She is SMART. Michelle went to both Princeton University and Harvard Law School. *She makes time for her girlfriends. In 2013 it was reported that the First Lady enjoyed “girls night out” at 43 different venues in Washington D.C.. Michelle says that being with her friends is vital to her well-being and so she makes it a high priority and she sticks to it.
*Kamala Harris: FIRST female Vice President, also by becoming the United States FIRST BLACK Vice President. She also made history by becoming the United States FIRST ASIAN Vice President. Daughter of immigrants. Served as San Francisco district attorney from 2004-2011 and California attorney general from 2011-2016. In 2017, she became the second Black woman and the first South Asian-American to be sworn in as a senator.