Entries in African American (7)


Obama Breaks Ground on African American History Museum

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Breaking ground on the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, President Obama said Wednesday he hopes the museum will remind future generations of the, “sometimes difficult, often inspirational, but always central role that African-Americans have played in the life of our country.”

The president spoke of what he would like his own two daughters to take away from the long-sought-after museum, which will be the only national museum devoted exclusively to African American life, art and history.

“I want my daughters to see the shackles that bound slaves on their voyage across the ocean and the shards the glass that flew from the 16th Street Baptist Church and understand that injustice and evil exist in the world, but I also want them to hear Louie Armstrong's horn and learn about the Negro League and read the poems of Phillis Wheatley,” he said. “I want them to appreciate this museum not just as a record of tragedy but as a celebration of life.”

The president was joined by his wife Michelle Obama and former First lady Laura Bush at Wednesday’s ceremony. The museum, which is set to open in 2015, will be built between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Black Valedictorian Recognized 75 Years After Graduation

WTAE Pittsburgh(PITTSBURGH) -- Fannetta Nelson Gordon was finally recognized Thursday as the valedictorian of Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, an honor denied her in 1936 because of her race.

Gordon died three years ago at age 88, but her sister, Sophia Phillips Nelson, 93, attended the ceremony sponsored by the Westinghouse Alumni Association.

"It was just so emotionally heartfelt to see the 93-year-old woman take the award for her sister," says lawyer Reggie Bridges, head of the alumni group. "The room was in tears."

"I wish Fannetta could have been there," said Phillips Nelson. "She was a brilliant girl and determined."

So determined, her family says, that Gordon overcame the wrong that was done to her when the school principal pressured music teacher Carl McVicker to change Gordon's grade from an A to a B so she wouldn't be first in her class – an honor that her older sister, Sophia, had achieved two years earlier. The principal didn't want two black valedictorians within two years, the family says.

Gordon – whose official transcript ranked her fourth in the 155-student class – went on to become the accompanist for the National Negro Opera Company and played at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Hall. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, she became a high school German and English teacher and later was named by the governor as a senior adviser for English and foreign languages in the state Education Department.

The recognition ceremony Thursday came about when Bridges reviewed the transcript and other records. "As clear as day you can see where the grades were changed in music," he said. "You can see erasure marks. " Her earlier music grades were all As, he said.

The Pittsburgh School District has not officially recognized Gordon as valedictorian. "It does appear there were erasure marks on the transcript—we can't confirm the back story" because the principal and music teacher are dead, said spokeswoman Ebony Pugh. "What the district does recognize is that Fannetta Nelson Gordon was a high-achieving student."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police: Serial Rapist Loose in Michigan

Image Courtesy - Detroit Police Department(DETROIT) -- Police in Detroit say a serial rapist is on the loose. The attacks began New Year’s Day and the suspect has struck another seven times since then.

All of the attacks happened at or near bus stops and all the victims are African-American women between the ages of 17 and 33.  The man attacks in the early morning hours and is thought to be driving a dark-colored car, possibly a Grand Am.

The suspect is an African-American with a thin moustache and beard.

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said Monday that forensic evidence will be key in tracking down the right person.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Oldest Living African-American Dies

Photo Courtesy - KTBS-TV Shreveport, La.(SHREVEPORT, Miss.) -- A woman believed to be the oldest African-American in the United States has died at the age of 113.

Mississippi Winn passed away Friday at a Shreveport, La., nursing home. A cause of death has not been released.

Winn was considered the seventh oldest person in the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Frantic Search for Missing North Carolina Teen

Photo Courtesy - Baltimore Police Department(BALTIMORE) -- The search continues for Phylicia Simone Barnes, a high school student from North Carolina who went missing in Baltimore. The 16-year-old honor student from Monroe, N.C., was visiting her half-sister when she disappeared three days after Christmas.

Phylicia was last heard from Dec. 28 via Facebook when she posted a note saying she was at her sister's apartment with her sister's boyfriend. The 5-foot, 8-inch African American student has been missing ever since.

The FBI and Baltimore police are conducting the investigation. Baltimore Metro Crime Stoppers has offered a cash reward of up to $2,000 for her discovery.

Police told ABC News on Saturday that they obtained additional security video from the area surrounding the apartment, but it has yet to shed new light on the case. FBI helicopters have scoured the area for days without finding any clues.

Police say several people who visited the apartment are considered persons of interest, and the two likely scenarios proposed by investigators are abduction or murder.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Signs Bill Settling African-American Farmers' and Native Americans' Lawsuits  

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Radio (WASHINGTON) -- Signing a law that he says closes a “long and unfortunate chapter” in the nation’s history, President Obama put his signature on the bill Wednesday to settle African-American farmers’ and Native Americans’ lawsuits against the federal government.

“This is one of those issues where you don't always get political credit, but it's just the right thing to do,” Obama said at the bill signing surrounded by multiple members of Congress in Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The legislation authorizes $1.15 billion for black farmers who say they were discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is a bill that was introduced by then-Senator Obama. The legislation also authorizes a $3.4 billion settlement with American Indians who say the U.S. Interior Department mismanaged trust accounts for natural resource royalties.

“Now, after 14 years of litigation, it's finally time to address the way that Native Americans were treated by their government. It's finally time to make things right.”

The president said that the bill represents not just making amends, but is also a reaffirming of the nation’s values of fairness, equality and opportunity.

“It's about helping families who suffered through no fault of their own get back on their feet. It's about restoring a sense of trust between the American people and the government that plays such an important role in their lives," said the president.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Only Living African-American WWII Medal Of Honor Recipient Buried In Arlington National Cemetery

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images.(ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va.) -- ABC News reports that the only living African-American veteran to receive the Medal of Honor for valor in World War II was laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery Friday.  Vernon Baker, 90, died of complications of brain cancer in July.  Baker was buried among the nation's fallen heroes, in the same section as the only other African American Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran buried at Arlington.  President Clinton presented Vernon Joseph Baker with the Medal of Honor in 1997, after an investigation revealed that the high climate of racism during World War II had prevented recognition of heroic deeds of black soldiers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.

ABC News Radio