Monthly Archives: February 2011
Black History Facts…the ones you never hear about
I am the mother of two boys and like many mothers with sons I became very familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine and his crew. Well this first Black History Fact is one that I was enlightened to find out about. The only reason I think I have ever heard the word coupler was from Thomas the Tank Engine and I definitely had no clue that the coupler; which is a device that allows train cars to hook themselves together when they are bumped into one another was invented by a black man.
Andrew Jackson Beard
Born 1849 – Died 1921
Patent No. 594,059
Inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006
Andrew Jackson Beard invented the “Jenny Coupler” in 1897. The device saved the lives of many railroad workers, who originally had the dangerous job of hooking the moving cars together by hand.
Born a slave in Woodland, Alabama, Andrew Beard developed the Automatic Railroad Car Coupler to make railroad work safer. Emancipated at the age of 15 and married at 16, Beard became a farmer near Birmingham for a few years, later working as a carpenter, blacksmith, railroad worker, businessman, and prolific inventor. Beard built a flour mill in Hardwicks, Alabama. In 1881 he patented one of his plow designs, selling it in 1884 and inventing another plow in 1887. In 1889, Beard invented a rotary steam engine that he patented in 1892.
During work on his rotary steam engine, Beard began to experiment with the idea of an automatic car coupler for railroad cars. After losing a leg during his own work on the railroads, Beard wanted to make the dangerous task of coupling cars safer. He invented the Automatic Railroad Car Coupler, also known as the “Jenny” coupler, which was patented in 1897.
Beard’s life from 1897 until his death in 1921 is unknown. source
Being an aspiring writer, I love to hear and read about the magnificent happenings in the world of writing. I am proud of Maya Angelou for being recognized in 1995 for remaining on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List for two years—the longest running record in history. Do you realize how long two years is when it comes to the writing world? Millions of books are published each year, so for Angelou to hold her place on the New York Times Bestseller List for two years is impressive! Maya Angelou also composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her script, the first by an African-American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Maya Angelou is definitely a Phenomenal Woman!
We often hear how hard it is for African-American actors/actresses to have long-term, successful careers in Hollywood. It is even harder for them to do so without selling their souls to the “I Will Do Anything” devils of the entertainment business. Many times their talent isn’t appreciated for its full worth and they are overlooked for roles that they would have been wonderful in. But the five talented ladies I have chosen to spotlight today have taken Hollywood and the movie industry by storm and have refused to be type cast and overlooked.
Here are 5 African-American Actresses that I Admire
Born 19 December 1933 in New York City, New York, USA. Cicely Tyson was raised in Harlem, New York by devoutly religious parents from the Caribbean island of Nevis. She was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine and, with her stunning looks, she quickly rose to the top of the modeling industry. In 1957, she began acting in Off-Broadway productions. She had small roles in feature films before she was cast as Portia in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) in 1968. Four years later, Cicely was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her sensational performance in the critically acclaimed film Sounder (1972). In 1974, she went on to portray a 110-year-old former slave in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974) (TV), which earned her two Emmys. While Cicely has not appeared steadily onscreen because of her loyalty to only portray strong, positive images of Black women, she is without a doubt one of the most talented, beautiful actresses to have ever graced the stage and screen. (bio from IMDB.com)
My favorite Cicely Tyson role was The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. This movie is a classic and Cicely Tyson made the role of Jane Pittman so life-like and believable. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is the story of a black woman in the South who was born into slavery in the 1850s and lives to become a part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. I have seen this movie countless times and each and every time I see it, I am still mesmerized by this story. It is no surprise that Cicely Tyson won two Emmys for her role in this movie. One of the main reasons I admire Cicely Tyson is that she is very careful of the roles she chooses to accept. She has stated that she chooses to accept roles that portray strong images of black women. She stands strong on her desire to display the beauty and strength of blackness and for this she should be applauded
Other Cicely Tyson tidbits
- Co-founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem with Arthur Mitchell
- Is the first African-American Actress to win an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie for her performance in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
- Honorary Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.