#OnThisDay 1915 Eleanor Fagan, better known as Billie Holiday, was born in Philadelphia, PA, She poured her heart into each song, making each one her own with her distinct style. Here's a little more about Billie Holiday.

Source: biography.com/news/billie-ho…
Shelived a fascinating life filled with tremendous ups and downs. She managed to survive a difficult childhood — often left in the care of cold-hearted relatives and even spent time in a Catholic reform school before joining her mother in New York City.
Before she found fame as a singer, Holiday did whatever it took to survive. She became one of jazz's great stars, performing with the likes of Count Basie and Artie Shaw. Her great talent, however, was later diminished by bad relationships and alcohol and drug abuse.
She gave herself the name Billie after a silent movie star. Her parents, Sadie Fagan and Clarence Holiday, were both teenagers when she was born, and her musician father took off when she was still a baby. That strained relationship didn't stop her from borrowing his last name.
"As a child, she even took a job doing chores and running errands for a local madam in exchange for a chance to play records on the madam's Victrola. Holiday later got a chance to work with Louis Armstrong with the two of them starring in the 1947 musical New Orleans."
She had only one major chart success with "Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)"It climbed to the No. 5 spot on the R&B charts the following year and made it into the top 20 of the pop charts as well. She got the nickname 'Lady Day' from saxophonist Lester Young."
"Strange Fruit" was one of her biggest and most controversial hits. The song's lyrics came from a poem written by Abel Meeropol, a teacher and social activist. He was inspired to write it after seeing a photograph of a lynching."
"The image so deeply disturbed him that he penned the poem in protest of racial violence. Meeropol later set the poem to music, and the resulting song found its way to Holiday. She started performing it at Café Society, an integrated nightclub in New York."
"Columbia, her record label at the time, didn't want her to record the song at first because of its controversial subject matter. Holiday ended up releasing the song on the Commodore label in 1939, and it went on to sell a million copies."
"She wrote the lyrics for her much-beloved work "God Bless the Child" after a fight with her mother about money, according to Holiday's autobiography. Holiday worked with Arthur Herzog Jr. on this tune and several others, including "Don't Explain."
"The phrase "Don't Explain" is what Holiday uttered to her first husband, Jimmy Monroe, when he came home with lipstick on his collar. Holiday wrestled with her addictions until the very end. She started using heroin in the early 1940s during her marriage to Monroe."
"She was arrested on drug charges in 1947 and ended up spending months in jail for possession. Two years later, Holiday was once again caught with drugs by the police. By the 1950s, Holiday's battle with drugs and alcohol was taking its toll on her voice and career."
"She managed to make a few more albums and even undertook a European tour in 1954 before her demons got the best of her. Feeling ill, she went into a New York hospital in May 1959 where she was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver."
FIN/"The illness of opiods had their claws in her soul. She was busted by the police in her hospital room for drug possession that June. Holiday never stood trial for the charges, however. She died on July 17, 1959, at the age of 44."

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More from @JamesMWilliam18

7 Apr
#OnThisDay 1872 Civil rights leader, businessman and newspaper editor William Monroe Trotter was born.

Who was William Monroe Trotter? Glad you asked.

Source: blackpast.org/african-americ…
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_M…
Mr. Trotter was a major civil rights activist in the early twentieth century, known for launching the first major challenge to the accommodationist policies + political dominance of Booker T. Washington + inspiration for the founding of the NAACP.
An excellent student, he graduated from Harvard as their first Black Phi Beta Kappa member. A year later, he received an M.A. degree from Harvard in finance. Restricted from working as a banker because of his race, Trotter worked in his father’s real estate firm.
Read 16 tweets
7 Apr
#OnThisDay 1863 leader of the Haitian Revolution and military genius Toussaint L'Ouverture died imprisoned. He led the succcessful revolutions to drive the French, the English and the Spanish from the island of Haiti.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toussaint…
"Born enslaved in the French colony of Saint Dominque, L’Ouverture was the eldest son of Gaou Guinon, an African prince who was captured by slavers. The French Code Noir (Black Code) legalized the harsh treatment of human beings as property."
His godfather taught him to read and write. Impressed by L’Ouverture, the manager of the Breda plantation on which L’Ouverture was born, allowed him unlimited access to his personal library. By the time he was 20, he spoked 3 languages + was an excellent horseman.
Read 17 tweets
6 Apr
#OnThisDay 1968 Oakland Police killed Black Panther Bobby Hutton in a shoot-out. Eldridge Cleaver, who was with Hutton, was charged with attempted murder for his participation in the shoot out.
Hutton, at 16, was the first treasurer and recruit of the Black Panther Party(BPP) at just 16 years old. He was also the first member of the Party killed by the police. Hutton met BPP founders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale at the North Oakland Anti-Poverty Center.
He joined because he wanted to make a difference in his community and that he believed in The Party’s Ten-Point Program. Hutton participated in a demonstration organized by the BPP at the California State Capitol Building in Sacramento, to protest the Mulford Act.
Read 9 tweets
6 Apr
#OnThisDay 1909 Matthew A. Henson became the first person to reach the North Pole.

Who was Matthew Henson? Glad you asked.

biography.com/explorer/matth…
I first found out about this great explorer and discoverer when I was either 7 or 8, in a wonderful series of comic books, "Golden Legacy," focused on Black history. I don't know where I got the good sense to keep them over 50 years . . .
Mr. Henson in Charles County, Maryland. The son of two free Black sharecroppers, Henson lost his mother at an early age. At four, the family moved to Georgetown in DC (which was majority Black). His Dad died, leaving Henson an orphan. At 11 he walked to Baltimore + got a job.
Read 12 tweets
6 Apr
#OnThisDay 1892 Mr. Isaac Brandon, an innocent Black man, was lynched on the grounds of a courthouse in Virginia.

Source: calendar.eji.org/racial-injusti…
". . . [A] mob of at least 80 white men broke into the jail in Charles City, Virginia, removed a Black man named Isaac Brandon from his cell, ignoring the pleas of his young son, and lynched him on the courthouse lawn."

All it took was a white woman crying "rape."
Several white women alleged that a Black man had broken into their home and tried to assault them. The deep racial hostility that permeated America during this time period ALWAYS put suspicion on Black people, whether evidence supported that suspicion or not.
Read 10 tweets
5 Apr
#OnThisDay 1880 JC Whitaker, a Black cadet at West Point, was tortured, beaten and mutilated days before graduation.

Source: calendar.eji.org/racial-injusti…
"In the early hours of the morning on April 5, 1880, Cadet Johnson Whittaker, one of the first Black students in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was brutally beaten by white cadets while sleeping in his barracks."
"Three white cadets ambushed Cadet Whittaker, slashed his head and ears, burned his Bible, threatened his life and then left him in his underwear, tied to the bed and bleeding profusely."
Read 16 tweets

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