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People, Locations, Episodes

Wed, 09.02.1896

Amanda Randolph, Actress born

Amanda Randolph was born on this date in 1896. She was an African American actress.

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Sat, 10.31.1896

Ethel Waters, Entertainer born

This date marks the birth of Ethel Waters in 1896. She was an African American entertainer, vocalist, and actress.

Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, Waters went to New York City in 1919 after singing and dancing on the East Coast and the Southern vaudeville and cabaret circuit. Due to her slender appearance, she was billed as Sweet Mama String-bean. In 1921, she cut two songs for Cardinal Records and became the first artist to release a blues record on the Black-owned Black Swan label, recording “Down Home Blues” and “Oh Daddy.”

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Fri, 03.19.1897

Mom’s Mabley, Comic Pioneer born

*This date marks the birthday of Moms Mabley, born in 1897. She was a Black vaudeville performer and comedian, the first Black woman to establish herself as a single act in standup comedy in America.

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Wed, 12.14.1898

Lillian Randolph, Film, and Television Actress born

Lillian Randolph was born on this date in 1898. She was an African American actress.

Born in Louisville, KY, she and her older sister Amanda were very successful stage and film performers. Her guest star roles include: “Here Comes the Bride” and “There Goes the Bride” (1972); “Sanford and Son” as Aunt Hazel; “Tenafly”as Aunt Gertrude (1973); “The Six Million Dollar Man” as Landlady; Clark Templeton O’Flaherty (1975); “The Jeffersons” as Emma — Mother Jefferson’s Birthday (1976).

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Wed, 03.01.1899

Ruby Dandridge, Entertainer born

Ruby Dandridge was born on this date in 1899. She was an African American entertainer.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Ruby Jean Butler was the daughter of Nellie Simmons and George Butler. Her father was born in Jamaica in 1860 and came to the United States when he was a child. George Butler was a janitor at the Union National Bank, as well as a minister, a grocer, a school principal, and an entertainer, appearing before both Black and White audiences. Not much is known about her mother, Nellie, except that she was born in 1870, and had a mixed heritage of Spanish and Indian.

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Tue, 10.09.1900

Elmer Snowden, Musician, and Bandleader born

*Elmer Snowden was born on this date in 1900.  He was a Black jazz musician and bandleader.   Elmer Chester Snowden was born in Baltimore, MD. to Gertrude Snowden, and had a brother, James. His mother worked as a laundress, but by the time of the 1917 World War I draft registration of 1917, a month before his 17th birthday, he was […]

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Wed, 09.04.1901

Mantan Moreland, Comic Actor born

*On this date in 1901 Mantan Moreland was born. He was an African American actor.

From Monroe, Louisiana, Moreland ran away to join the circus at age 12, had success for many years in vaudeville. Eventually his career came to Hollywood, where he appeared in hundreds of movies. Moreland’s artistry and face are familiar to most fans of classic Hollywood. “Charlie Chan” TV fans know him as Birmingham Brown, chauffeur to the great detective in a number of pictures for the Monogram studio but those films are but a small portion of his creative output.

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Sat, 03.08.1902

Louise Beavers, Actress born

*This date recalls the birth of Louise Beavers in 1902. Known for her character roles, she was an African American film and television actress.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Beavers first drew attention as part of an act known as the “Lady Minstrels.” Despite her theatrical abilities and inclinations, she went to Hollywood, not as a performer, but as the maid of actress Leatrice Joy. She soon, however, appeared on the silver screen, making her feature debut in Gold Diggers (1923). She continued to act in such other silent films as Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1927).

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Fri, 05.30.1902

Step’n Fetchit, Vaudeville, and Film Actor born

On this date in 1902, Step’n Fetchit was born. He was an African American actor known for his stereotypical film portrayal of Black minstrel characters.

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Tue, 12.23.1902

Vivian Harris, Comedian born

*Vivian Harris was born on this date in 1902. She was an African American Comedian, Chorus Girl and Longtime “Voice of the Apollo.”

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Sat, 06.27.1903

Dick Campbell, Stage Actor, and Advocate born

*Dick Campbell was born on this date in 1903.  He was a Black actor, theater advocate and community activist.   Born Cornelius Coleridge Campbell in Beaumont, Texas. Orphaned at the age of six, he was raised by his maternal grandmother, Pauline Snow. He worked as a janitor at his local high school, prior to attending […]

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Fri, 12.04.1903

Walter Roland, Blues Pianist born

*On this date in 1903, Walter Roland was born.  He was a Black blues, boogie-woogie and jazz pianist, guitarist and singer.      Roland was born in Ralph, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. He started playing on the Birmingham blues circuit in the 1920s. A competent and versatile pianist, his range covered slow blues to upbeat, jaunty boogie-woogie numbers. He was also skilled as a guitar player and had a […]

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Wed, 12.23.1903

Fredi Washington, Actress born

*On this date in 1903, Fredi Washington was born. She was an African American actress, writer, dancer, and singer.

From Savannah, Georgia, Fredericka Carolyn Washington’s education began at St. Elizabeth Convent in Cornwells Heights, Pennsylvania. She then attended the Egri School of Dramatic Writing and the Christopher School of Languages, where her attractions included casting, writing, dancing, singing, and civil rights. Washington’s career began dancing in nightclubs. From 1922 to 1926, she toured with Sissle and Blake’s Shuffle Along.

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Tue, 02.16.1904

James Baskett, Walt Disney’s First Live Actor born

*On this date we point out the birth of James Baskett in 1904. He was an African American actor.

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Mon, 04.18.1904

Pigmeat Markham, Comedian born

On this date we mark the birth of Pigmeat Markham in 1904. He was an African American comedian.

From Durham, North Carolina, Dewey Pigmeat Markham began his long career in 1917, dancing in traveling shows. He traveled the southern ‘race’ circuit with blues singer Bessie Smith and later appeared on burlesque bills with Milton Berle, Red Buttons, and Eddie Cantor. By the 50s, Markham was one of Black America’s most popular entertainers through his shows at the Regal in Chicago, the Howard in Washington, and in particular, New York’s famed Apollo.

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New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

Sex fingers toes in the marketplace near your father's church in hamlet , North Carolina- witness to this love in this calm fallow of these minds, there is no substitute for... DEAR JOHN, DEAR COLTRANE by Michael S. Harper.
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