In an attempt to introduce evidence that contradicts many who have claims to being the first at inventing, creating, and the illusion of being the first at anything, while Blacks have been displayed or described at doing absolutely nothing at all. This premise encourages me to share some insight into the truth of who it is that was actually first.
It was the book “Black Firsts” Two Thousand Years of Extraordinary Achievements by Sister Dr. Jessie Carney Smith, that actually planted the seed in my mind to publish something that adds heightened support to the contributions of Black People to the world at large.
1845-William Henry Lane (c.1825-52), "Master Juba," was "The First Black Dance Star." He took his stage name from the 'African' dance, the 'Juba.' In 1845, Lane won the title "King of All Dancers" after three challenge contests. He toured with three white minstrels, receiving top billing, and garnered acclaim for his 1848 performance in London. Lane died in 1852, without ever returning to the United States.
1923-In October, 1923, “Running Wild” was "The First Black Show" to introduce the 'Charleston' to non-Black audiences. After its appropriation by a white show in 1926, the dance achieved a world-wide popularity second only to the Black inspired 'Tango,' which came to Europe and America from Argentina. A third Black dance to achieve wide success in the 1920's was the "Black Bottom," which reached in "Dinah" at 'Harlem's Lafayette Theater' in 1924. Both the Charleston and the Black Bottom were theatrical adaptations of dances known to Blacks in the South for a decade of more.
1932-Buddy (Clarence) Bradley was "The First Black to Choreograph a Show of White Dancers." He was hired to prepare the London production of "Evergreen" for which he was in charge of sixty-four dancers. Bradley received full-credit in the program. His career from this time on was mainly in Europe, where he was an important figure in popular dance.
Hemsley Winfield (1906-1934) was "The First Black Dancer" to be involved in ballet. He choreographed and performed with his own company in the 'Metropolitan Opera's' production of 'Louis Gruenberg's' "The Emperor Jones."
This was a one-time exception to the rules - management did not list the dancers in the program. The next Black dancer did not appear with the company until 1951. Winfield's mother was a playwright, and he made his debut in one of her plays, "Wade In The Water" (1926). He became a dancer and a pioneer in Black concert dance, organizing the 'Negro Art Theater Dance Group.' This group gave its first concert on April 29, 1931, and appeared in 'Hall Johnson's' "Run Little Chillun" in 1933.
1951-Janet Collins (1923-) was "The First Black "Prima Ballerina"" at the 'Metropolitan Opera Company,' a position that she held for three years. She made her debut in "Aida." Collins was born in New Orleans on March 2, 1923, and her family later settled in Los Angeles. A graduate of Los Angeles City College and Arts Center School, Collins is known for her choreography and her dance instruction.
1958-"The First Black Dancer" in the country to become a member of a classical ballet company, the New York City Ballet, was 'Arthur Mitchell' (1934-). Born in New York City, Mitchell studied at the city's High School of Performing Arts and at the School of American Ballet. He founded the "Dance Theatre of Harlem" as a school of dance - especially classical ballet for children, regardless of race. The first Black Classical Ballet Company in the United States, it made its debut at the "Guggenheim Museum of Art in York City." In 1988 the company became the first Black cultural group to tour the 'Soviet Union' under the renewed cultural exchange program.
1963-Katherine Dunham (1910-) was the "First Black Choreographer" to work at the 'Metropolitan Opera House.' A dancer, choreographer, school founder, and anthropologist, she was born in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and graduated from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. Dunham incorporated her training in anthropology and her study of 'African and West Indian Dances' into her own techniques and dance instruction.
1984-The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater was the "First Black Modern Dance Troupe" to perform in the 'Metropolitan Opera House.' Founded in 1958 by 'Alvin Ailey' (1931-89), the troupe has performed before more than an estimated fifteen million people throughout the world. Ailey's best known work, "Revelations," based on his childhood experiences in Black Baptist Churches, was created in 1961. The dancer and choreographer was born in Rogers, Texas.
1970-Maya Angelou (Marguerite Johnson, 1928), actress, dancer, and writer, was "The First Black Woman to have an 'Original Screenplay'" produced, "Georgia, Georgia," which she directed. Angelou was also "The First Black Woman to Have a Non-Fiction Work on the Best-Seller List." Her autobiographical "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" (1970) evoked images of a 'Black Girl's Childhood' in the South, and was nominated for a 1970 National Book Award and aired as a television movie in 1979. An artist of wide-ranging talents, she was nominated for a 'Tony Award' for acting and a 'Pulitzer Prize' for poetry.
Charles Gardone (1925-), playwright, was "The First Black Dramatist" to win the 'Pulitzer Prize' for drama, for the play "No Place To Be Somebody."
"The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans."
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
~ Maya Angelou ~
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights for all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
“I’ve Taken A Stance…and It’s Known That I Stand With You!”
"The Sankofa symbolizes the Akan people’s quest for knowledge among the Akan with the implication that the quest is based on critical examination, and intelligent and patient investigation.
The symbol is based on a mythical bird with its feet firmly planted forward with its head turned backwards."
"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States on account of Race, Color, of previous condition of servitude!"
"The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African American Men the right to vote by declaring that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Although ratified on February 3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote."