Artist Annie Frances Lee (1935-2014) was born in Gadsen, Alabama and grew up in Chicago, IL. She began painting as a young girl and won her first art competition at age 10. Lee was offered a four year scholarship to Northwestern University after high school. However, she married instead and began to raise a family. Tragedy struck Lee with the death of her 1st and 2nd husbands with whom she had 2 children; a daughter and a son respectively. It would not be until age 40 that she would begin to pursue a career as an artist. Lee took night classes for 8 years to earn her masters degree in Interdisciplinary Arts Education from Loyola University. She also worked full time at Northwestern Railroad while going to school. Her employment with Northwestern Railroad inspired one of her most popular paintings, Blue Monday. The painting features a woman struggling to get out of bed on a Monday morning. Lee described Blue Monday as her “self portrait’.
Lee held her first gallery show in 1985 at age 50. The show was highly successful for Lee and she sold all her available pieces at the show within 4 hours. In addition to artwork, Lee also had some of her most popular paintings produced as figurines, dolls, and housewares. A hallmark of Lee’s artistic style, was that faces in her artwork were painted without features. Following the death of her son in 1986, Lee decided to pursue an art career full time. She eventually opened her own gallery, “Annie Lee and Friends Gallery”. Her own artwork as well as the artwork of friends was displayed there. Several of her paintings were part of the sets for popular shows and films such as 227, Coming To America and A Different World. The appearance of her work on these shows greatly increased her exposure. Lee died in Las Vegas on November 14, 2014 at the age of 79.
Dr. Kameron Matthews and Dr. Alden Landry are cofounders of “Tour For Diversity in Medicine”. Twice per year, doctors travel the country by bus visiting selected high schools, colleges, and universities to encourage students of color to pursue careers in health professions. Tour For Diversity in Medicine was launched in 2011. Dr. Matthews recalls that one day she and Dr. Landry were on the phone and asked themselves, “Why don’t we just get on the bus? Instead of students coming to see us, because not all students have that capability all the time, why don’t we go see them?” And that’s exactly what they are doing today. In addition to having doctors, the organization also has medical students who serve as mentors participate in the tour. The mission of the organization is: “To educate, inspire and cultivate future physicians and dentists of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds by forming local connections in order to fulfill a national need”
The bus tour consists of 15-20 minority doctors all of whom volunteer to visit different schools twice per year. They share their personal experiences and insights to encourage students of color to consider health careers. 2014 was a milestone year for enrollment of students in color in medical schools. At each stop on the tour students are engaged in a full day workshop that shares info about how to apply for medical school, admissions testing, financial aid, interviewing skills, as well as info on health disparities. More than 2,000 students have been reached through the tours. Though most of the info students need can be found online, the goal of the tour is to help students develop relationships that would inspire them to pursue a medical career.
The 2015 Fall Tour kicks off on October 22. The tour will visit Portland State University, Washington State University and University of Washington, Kudos to Dr. Matthews and Dr. Landry for taking their show on the road to inspire young people of color!
Did you catch yesterday’s Black Mail post? Click the link below to view yesterdays post featuring Edith Sampson, the first African American female judge to be elected by popular vote and the first African American to be a representative to the United Nations.
The incomparable Maya Angelou! Though she is no longer with us, she left us beautiful gifts of words and wisdom. Several Maya Angelou quotes are included in this post. Which one(s) resonates with you the most! Comment and let us know!
Mabel Fairbanks never had the opportunity to be an Olympic ice skater. However she was certainly a pioneer of the sport. She is the first African American woman to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Many of the sports best and brightest were also coached by Fairbanks.
Mabel Fairbanks was born on November 14, 1915 in the Florida Everglades. Little is known about her early life. What we do know is that she was employed as babysitter. She began watching white children skate at a local ice rink and wanted to join them. In 1938, Mabel bought a pair of black leather skates in a pawnshop. She paid $1.50 for the skates. The skates were too big, so she stuffed the insides of the boots with cotton. She first skated on a frozen pond in Harlem and then went to Central Park to practice.
Because she was black, she was denied entry in skating rinks. She was determined to learn and did not let this set back deter her. Eventually she was able to skate in local rinks and received some coaching. She also listened in on lessons offered by other instructors to white skaters. She then began copying their moves. By her early 20s, Fairbanks had formed a novelty act in partnership with a roller skater and took her portable rink and show on the road. Soon she was skating at the Gay Blades Ice Arena in Manhattan to mixed-race audiences. She went on to skate in other shows as well.
Though her talent was undeniable, the U.S. Skating Team refused to allow her to participate because she was black. Fairbanks eventually went to Los Angeles and started a career as a skating coach. She continued performing in ice shows as well. She coached some of the sports’ best know talents: pairs champions Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner; Scott Hamilton, and Kristi Yamaguchi. Atoy Wilson, the first African American to win a U.S. skating title was coached by Fairbanks as well.
Fairbanks was a staunch advocate for equality in the sport of skating. She played a key role in the Culver City Skating Club of Los Angeles admitting their first black member in 1965. She was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1977. She did not have any jumps or skating moves named after her (such as the Lutz, named after Alois Lutz or the Sachow named after Ulrich Slachow). One of her signature moves a spin—where she extended her leg back and above her head and another where she hold her leg straight up—which are commonplace today were dismissed as “spin variations.”
She died in 2001 at the age of 85, She was posthumously inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. .
VIEW YESTERDAY’S POST!
Did you see yesterday’s Black Mail post on Joseph Cottrell, the African American entrepreneur that took the Jheri Curl from the salon into African American homes! Click the link below to see yesterday’s post:
The “Jheri Curl” will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most popular hairstyles of its time. Learn more about the Joseph Cottrell, Jr, the African American entrepreneur who took the Jheri Curl out of the salon and into the homes with his $8 Curly Kit.
Entrepreneur Comer Joseph Cottrell, Jr. was born in Mobile, Alabama on December 7, 1931. Cottrell became fascinated with business at an early age. As a youth, he joined with his brother, James, in a rabbit meat and fur selling business. After completing High School, Cottrell attended the University of Detroit during 1947 and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1948 to 1952. Cottrell eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1956. In 1968, with an initial investment of $600.00, Cottrell a friend and his brother got into the black hair care business manufacturing strawberry scented oil sheen for Afro hairstyles and founded Pro-Line Corporation in 1970. By 1973, he made his first million dollars in sales. In 1979, Cottrell took the $75-$200.00 “Jerry Curl” out of the beauty shop and into black homes with his $8.00 Pro-Line “Curly Kit”, which increased his sales from one million dollars a year to ten million dollars in the first six months. (The Jheri Curl was invented by Jheri Redding, a Caucasian hairdresser and entrepreneur). By the end of 1981, Pro-Line had become a leading African American haircare products company with about $22 million in revenue. Cottrell sold Pro-Line to Alberto-Culver, a U.S. cosmetics firm, for $80 million in 2000.
In 1989, Cottrell became the first African American part-owner of a U.S. major league baseball franchise, the Texas Rangers. Comer Joseph Cottrell died on October 3, 2014 at the age of 82 in Dallas, Texas. He was an important member of a selected line of African American entrepreneurs who used the African American hair care market to amass sizeable wealth, some of which was later employed to support African American community institutions.
Earlier today, we invited our Black Mail Readers to take a quiz on the Selma To Montgomery March. As promised here are answers!
1)T or F: March on Selma was in support of passing the Civil Rights Act. FALSE
2)T or F: March on Selma was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. FALSE
3)T or F: The NAACP & SCLC organized the marches FALSE
4)Bonus Question: How many miles was the march from Selma to Montgomery A)17 miles B)45 miles C)54 miles ANSWER IS C – 54 MILES