Facts & Trivia






 Fact #1 Comedian Bill Cosby’s 1984 sitcom, The Cosby Show, became the highest-ranking sitcom for 5 years in a row. The program aired for eight years.

Fact #2 In 2006 Whitney Houston, a celebrated singer, songwriter, and actress, was named the most awarded female artist of all time by the Guinness World Records.

Fact #3 Michael Jackson, singer, songwriter, and entertainer extraordinaire, was nominated for 12 Grammy awards and won a record-breaking eight in 1984. He has received 13 Grammy awards in his career and is a double inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as part of the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist). He holds the title of Most Top 10 Singles from an album for Thriller (1982) and the Most No. 1 Single from an album for Bad (1987).

Fact #4 Music composer and producer, Quincy Jones is the most Grammy-nominated artist in the history of the awards with 76 nominations and 26 awards.

Fact #5 At the 2010 Grammy Awards, singer Beyonce Knowles walked away from the ceremony with six awards—the most wins in a single night by a female artist in the history of the event.

Fact #6 Musician and activist Harry Belafonte originally devised the idea for “We Are the World,” a single that he hoped would help raise money for famine relief in Africa. The single became the fastest-selling in history, making more than $20 million worldwide.

Fact #7 Chuck Berry’s famous “duck walk” dance originated in 1956 when Berry attempted to hide wrinkles in his rayon suit by shaking them out with his now-signature body movements.

Fact #8 Legendary singer James Brown performed in front of a televised audience in Boston the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Brown is often given credit for preventing riots with the performance.

Fact #9 Before lawyer Johnnie Cochran achieved nationwide fame for his role in the O.J. Simpson trial, actor Denzel Washington interviewed Cochran as part of his research for the award-winning film Philadelphia (1993).

Fact #10 After friend and musical partner Tammi Terrell died of a brain tumor, Marvin Gaye left the music industry for two years. During this time, he tried out for the Detroit Lions football team but didn’t make the cut. Instead, he returned to the studio to record his hit single, “What’s Goin’ On.”

Fact #11 At the very peak of his fame, rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard concluded that his music was the Devil’s work, and became a traveling Evangelical preacher instead. When the Beatles revived several of his songs in 1964, Little Richard returned to the stage.

 Fact #12 Ray Charles Robinson (1930 – 2004) a musical genius and pioneer in blending gospel and the blues shortened his name to just Ray Charles to prevent confusion with the great boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. Ray Charles began going blind at an early age and was completely blind by the time he was 7 years old, but has never relied upon a cane, or a guide dog. He was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural ceremony in 1986.

Fact #13 Mamie Smith was the first African-American artist to make a blues record. The album, which brought blues into the mainstream, sold a million copies in less than a year.

Fact #14 Muddy Waters (1913 – 1983) is considered the “Father of Chicago Blues” with his infusion of the electric guitar into the Delta country blues. Muddy Waters was influential to some of the most popular rock bands, such as the Rolling Stones, who named themselves after his popular 1950 song &dlquo; Rollin’ Stone”.


Fact #15 Model Tyra Banks was the first African-American woman on the covers of GQ magazine and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. In 1997, model Tyra Banks became the first-ever African-American on the cover of Victoria’s Secret lingerie catalog.

Fact #16 Actress Diahann Carroll won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress In A Television Series in 1968 for her role on the sitcom Julia. Carroll was the first African-American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker.

Fact #17 Nat ‘King’ Cole, a singer, songwriter, and pianist, was the first African-American to host a national television program, The Nat King Cole Show, in 1956.

Fact #18 Two years after she played the role of Dorothy Dandridge, the first African-American woman to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, performer Halle Berry actually became the first African-American woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress.

Fact #19 In 1959, Ella Fitzgerald became the first African-American woman to earn a Grammy Award. She won five awards that year, including an award for best jazz soloist and one for the best female pop vocalist.

Fact #20 Soul singer Aretha Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Fact #21 Robert Johnson, the owner of Black Entertainment Television, became the first black billionaire in America in 2001.

Fact #22 Hattie McDaniel was the first Black performer to win an Academy Award, earning Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in the epic film, Gone with the Wind.


Fact #23 The first interracial kiss to be seen on network television was on an episode of the sci-fi drama, Star Trek in 1968. The scene was a romantic moment between African-American actress Nichelle Nichols and white Canadian actor William Shatner.

Fact #24 Black Swan Records, founded in 1921 by Harry Pace in Harlem, was the first U.S. record label owned and operated by African-Americans. It was originally the Pace Phonograph Corporation and was renamed Black Swan Records after the 19th-century opera singer Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, who was known as the Black Swan.


Fact #25 Gordon Parks was the first African-American to write, direct, and score a major Hollywood film with the 1969 movie The Learning Tree. The plot was based on Parks’ semi-autobiographical book of the same name.
Sidney Poitier -ALO-080755.jpg

Fact #26 In 1963, Sidney Poitier became the first black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film, Lilies of the Field.

Fact #27 Charley Pride (1938 – ) is one of the most successful African-American country singers of all time, with a career spanning over 40 years and 36 number one hits. He is also the first African-American to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Pride was a baseball player with the Negro League and the Memphis Red Sox before becoming a successful musician.

Fact #28 Singer and actress Della Reese was the first black woman to serve as guest host of The Tonight Show.

Fact #29 Hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. became the first rap act to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone and make a video appearance on MTV.

Fact #30 Oprah Winfrey became the first female U.S. billionaire in 2003.



1) After Josephine Baker, an African-American dance and singing icon, moved to France for opportunities unavailable to her in her home country, she smuggled intelligence to French allies during World War II.  Source [Biography]


2) Actress and singer Pearl Bailey earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from Georgetown University after her career ended. Source [Biography]

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3) During Shirley Chisholm‘s run for president in 1972, she survived three assassination attempts. Source [Biography]

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4 ) Billie Holiday made “Strange Fruit,” the song about Black lynching in the South, famous, but it was originally a poem penned by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx. Source [Biography and  PBS.org]


5) Back when Blacks could be severely punished for being able to read, Harriet Ann Jacobs, a former slave, published “Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl” in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent. As Jacobs’ Biography profile notes:

The book chronicles the  hardships and sexual abuse she experienced as a female growing up in  slavery. Jacobs fled slavery in 1835 by hiding in a crawlspace in her  grandmother’s attic for nearly seven years before traveling to  Philadelphia by boat, and eventually to New York.

Source [Biography and PBS.com]


6)  Coretta Scott King was well-known as a singer before meeting her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Mrs. King won a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of  Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Source [Youtube and Biography]

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7) Alicia Keys has brains to go along with that great voice of hers. She was accepted into Columbia University, but decided on a music career instead. Seems like her bet paid off! Source [People Magazine and Biography]


8)  Halle Berry‘s parents named her after Halle’s Department Store, a local landmark in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Source [Wikipedia]

9) Even though Octavia Butler was dyslexic, she went on to become an award-winning science fiction author. (How many of you knew Black folks write science fiction to begin with?) Source [Biography and The Seattle Times]

10)  Ever wonder who the woman behind the Aunt Jemima image is? She is Nancy Green, a former slave who was employed to promote the Aunt  Jemima brand.


Green “signed a lifetime contract with the  pancake company and her image was used for packaging and billboards,” according to her profile on Biography. Source [African-American Registry]



GOOD TIMES (trivia)

Good Times was that show that all of us knew better than we know our own relatives.  Most of us can sing the theme song even without knowing all the words, and if I were to walk into a room and say the words “damn, damn, damn!” you would know EXACTLY what scene I was talking about.

But here is a short list of interesting age-related facts about the show that you may not know.  We are not sharing this information with you for any reason other than the fact that it’s interesting.  The most notable fact is that the show didn’t start doing poorly until JJ stopped acting like a complete buffoon.  Here’s the rundown….feel free to add your own Good Times-related facts to the comment section below:

1) Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) was much older than James Evans (John Amos):  Florida was born in 1920 and James was born in 1939.  So, when show began in 1974, Florida was already 54 years old, married to a 35-year old husband.

2) JJ was an old man too:  JJ, played by Jimmie Walker, was born in 1947, only 8 years later than James.  He was certainly no teenager on the show, being 27-years old when the show released its debut.

3) Willona (played by Ja’net Dubois) was only 2 years older than JJ.  They could have dated.

4) Esther Rolle was consistently annoyed that even though the show was created around her, a comedian (Jimmie Walker) was getting all of the attention.

5) The show was created by Michael Evans, who also played Lionel Jefferson on another show you might have heard of.  He based the show on his own childhood.

6) The show was a spinoff of another show, called “Maude,” where Florida was a maid.  They changed the name of her husband in the spinoff.

7) Jay Leno appeared on the show in an episode about STDs, one of the first in the history of television.

8) In her indignation over JJ’s role, Esther said:   ”He’s eighteen and he doesn’t work. He can’t read or write. He doesn’t think. The show didn’t start out to be that…Little by little—with the help of the artist, I suppose, because they couldn’t do that to me—they have made J.J. more stupid and enlarged the role. Negative images have been slipped in on us through the character of the oldest child.”

9) When John Amos left the show after failed contract negotiations, he said this about JJ’s character: “The writers would prefer to put a chicken hat on J.J. and have him prance around saying “DY-NO-MITE”, and that way they could waste a few minutes and not have to write meaningful dialogue.”

10) Esther Rolle was convinced to come back during the last season under three conditions:  They would write out the character that she ran off and married after James’ death (since she didn’t think Florida would move on so quickly), they would give her a raise in salary, and JJ would  have more respectable, intelligent roll. Oddly enough, that’s when the show started to tank in the ratings.


What year did the first Africans arrive in the Americas?1526

    . The first Africans arrived in the Americas between 1526-39, in the company of Spanish and Portuguese explorers.
What year was slavery introduced in the Americas?


    . North America’s first slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619.
Where was the first formal protest against slavery?

Germantown, Pennsylvania

    . The first formal protest against slavery was made in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1688.
What state was the first to abolish slavery?


    . Vermont became the first state to abolish slavery – in 1777.
In what state was there a failed effort to overthrow slavery?

South Carolina

    . Denmark Vesey organized 6,000 slaves in South Carolina in a failed effort to overthrow slavery.
How many slaves did Harriet Tubman rescue between 1840-61?

Over 300

    . Harriet Tubman, working through the underground railroad, rescued more than 300 slaves from the South. She later became a spy and a nurse for the Union Army.
In what year did Abraham Lincoln issue his Emancipation Proclamation?


    . President Abraham Lincoln gave this famous speech in 1863, which declared the freedom of any slave residing in a state in rebellion against the Union.
In what year was slavery abolished in America?


    . The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery in the United States. African Americans and white abolitionists celebrated the victory with church programs, speeches, and parades.
In what year was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founded?


    . The NAACP founded in 1909 by a group of whites and blacks with a view to influencing public opinion and in order to defend the legal rights of African Americans.
Did President Truman abolish segregation in the military?


    . President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 in 1948, abolishing segregation in the armed forces.
What did Martin Luther King, Jr. do in 1955?

Led a yearlong boycott

    . In 1955, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a year long boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama bus system after Rosa Parks, a black seamstress, was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person on a bus.
In what year were Federal troops ordered to Oxford, Mississippi?


    . Federal troops were ordered to Oxford, Mississippi in 1962 to protect James H. Merideth, the first African American to enrol at the University of Mississippi.
In what year did Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his famous “I have a dream” speech?


    . On August 20 more than 200,000 Blacks and Whites participated in a March on Washington, D.C., to protest the lack of federal civil rights legislation.
What did Martin Luther King, Jr. win in 1964?

Nobel Peace Prize

    . Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
In what year was Malcolm X assassinated?


    . Malcom X left the Black Muslim organization “Nation of Islam” in 1964 and formed the “Organization of Afro-American Unity”, stressing black nationalism and social action. He was assasinated the following year.
When did the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama take place?


    . In 1965, white resistance to a black voter registration drive led to a Freedom March, from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest discrimination at the polls. Congress soon passed the Voting Rights Act soon after.
In what year was Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated?


    . Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assasinated in 1968 by a white man. This act set off a wave of violence in more than 100 cities nationwide.
In what year was the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. first celebrated as a national holiday?


    . For the first time, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was celebrated as a national holiday in 1986. The holiday is on the third Monday of every January.
In what year was the Million Man March?


    . In 1995, The Million Man March on Washington, called on black men to declare responsibility for their families and communities.
What does Kwanzaa mean?

first fruits

    • . Kwanzaa, meaning “first fruits” in Swahili, is an annual seven-day festival observed by some African Americans during the week of December 26 to January 1. Inspired by an African harvest festival, Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by an American activist named Maulana Karenga to increase awareness of African heritage and to encourage unity.


1. What was the first American Colony to abolish slavery?

~ A. Pennsylvania was the first colony to ban slavery

2. What was the first black newspaper?

~ A, in 1827, the Freedom’s Journal newspaper was founded. It was the first Black-owned and operated newspaper in the United States. Started by a group of free Black men in New York City, the paper served to counter racist commentary published in the mainstream press. As a four-page, four-column standard-sized weekly, Freedom’s Journal was established the same year that slavery was abolished in New York State. Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russwurm served as its senior and junior editors. The Journal consisted of news of current events, anecdotes, and editorials and was used to address contemporary issues such as slavery and “colonization,” a concept that was conceived in 1816 to repatriate free Black people to Africa.

3. What event sparked the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People?

~ A. A 1908 race riot in Springfield, Massachusetts, reported by liberal New York journalist W.E. Walling inspired him to help found a national organization to speak out on behalf of equality for African-Americans.

After a meeting with other concerned citizens in his apartment, including social worker Mary W. Ovington, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was organized in 1909.

Its only black officer was W.E.B. Du Bois, who served as the first editor of its magazine, the Crisis.

4. This Republican was the first black person elected to the U.S. Senate. Who was he and what state did he represent?

~ A. On February 25, 1870, visitors in the Senate galleries burst into applause as Mississippi senator-elect Hiram Revels of Mississippi entered the chamber to take his oath of office. Those present knew that they were witnessing an event of great historical significance. Revels was about to become the first African American to serve in the Senate.

5. This Havre de Grace native was raised in Canada, but returned to the U.S. to become one of the Marine Corps first black enlistees during WWII. He later played for the Negro League’s Baltimore Elite Giants and in his later years was a tennis instructor at many Baltimore Clubs.

~ A. Ernest Burke

6. The aftermath of the revolt led by this slave in 1831 led to a strengthening of the “Black Codes,” which forbade slaves from gathering in groups larger than five, learning to read or write, owning property, or testifying in court.

~ A. Nat Turner

7. This black Air Force materials researcher invented and patented new lubricants used in highflying aircraft and NASA space missions.

~ A. John B. Christian

8. This Civil War soldier was the first African-American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

~ A. Sgt. William H. carney 54th Massachusetts Infantry

9. This engineer inventor patented an oiling device, which allowed machines to remain in motion while being lubricated. His device revolutionized the machine industry.

~ A. Elijah McCoy

10. In 1976, this West Point grad becomes the first African-American to command the 82nd Airborne Division. He was also the first African American in the U.S. Army to achieve the rank of Four Star General.

~ A. Marjor General Roscoe Robinson

11. Born in 1885, this Baltimore County physician and entrepreneur owned the Baltimore Homestead Grays, Edgewater Beach and numerous other businesses prior to WWII.

~ A. Dr. Joseph H. Thomas

12. These men were the first two African-American cadets at West Point.

13. The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 destroyed what prosperous black community? What

other name has been used to describe this community?

14. This Arbutus native is the first African-American Speaker Pro Tem of the

Maryland House of Delegates.


Black History Trivia Questions

15. This Turner Station native completed his second mission in space in January


16. Who was the first child of African parents born in England’s American colonies?

17. What was the name of the first slave ship built in the English colonies?

18. What African American male developed the theory of the talent tenth.

19. When was the importation of slaves outlawed in the U.S.?

20. What dispute led to the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church?

21. Who was the first black astronaut to walk in space?

22. How big was the price on Harriet Tubman’s head?

23. Where in the South was Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883) born

24. Where did Fredrick Douglass get his last name?

25. At its height, what was the slave population in the U.S.?

26. What percentage of Southern families owned large plantations?

27. Who were the principles in the Supreme Court case, Plessy v. Ferguson?

28. Who wrote “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others”?

29. Who was the first president to invite an African-American man to the White


30. Who was the first African American Supreme court justice?

31. When was the first “Negro History Week”?

32. Who popularized the slogan “Africa for the Africans at home and abroad”?

33. How did Jackie Robinson do in his first major league game?

34. For what did Ralph Bunche win the Noble Peace Prize?

35. Why did Rosa Parks refuse to move from her seat in the white section of a bus in

Montgomery, Alabama?

36. Where did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., get his doctorate?


Black History Trivia Questions

37. When and where did Martin Luther King, Jr. make his “I Have a Dream” speech?

38. Where was the first “sit-in” at a segregated lunch counter?

39. What did the “N” in SNCC stand for?

40. How did the 24th Amendment advance the cause of civil rights?

41. What were the names of the three civil rights workers murdered by the Ku Klux

Klan in 1964?

42. For what crime did Malcolm X go to prison?

43. Where was Malcolm X killed?

44. How long did the Watts riots of 1965 last?

45. Which justice did Thurgood Marshall replace on the Supreme Court?

46. What was “Resurrection City”?

47. How many times did Jesse Jackson run for the U.S. Presidency?

48. What year was Martin Luther King Day first observed as a federal holiday?

49. Who videotaped Rodney King’s beating by Los Angeles police?



Facts about Kwanzaa Founder — Dr. Maulana Karenga

Added by kirstenon December 27, 2011.

NewsOne.com reports:

Though he doesn’t consider himself the sole inventor, Dr. Maulana Karenga is probably best known as the man who created Kwanzaa, the recently instituted week-long, year-end harvest holiday tradition celebrated by millions of people around the world. Get to know more about him:

1. Self-Determination

Dr. Karenga was actually given the name “Ronald McKinley Everett” at birth, but he changed it approximately 20 years later to Maulana Karenga, meaning “master teacher.” [blackpast.org]

2. Agrarian Roots

He was born on July 14, 1941, on a poultry farm in Parsonburg, MD. He was the fourteenth child, seventh son. [encyclopedia.com]

3. Doctor, DoctorHe has two Ph.D.’s. His first was awarded in 1976 from the United States International University for a 170-page dissertation titled “Afro-American Nationalism: Social Strategy and Struggle for Community.” His second was awarded in 1994 from the University of Southern California for an 803-page dissertation entitled “Maat, the Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt: A Study in Classical African Ethics.” [wikipedia.org]

4. Textbook Smart

He is the author of 12 books including “Introduction to Black Studies,” a textbook now in its fourth edition; and is a Professor and Chair of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. [csulb.edu]

5. Organizer

In 1965 he co-founded the still operational Organization Us to provide a philosophy and program for “the building of moral community and to the constant becoming of the best of what it means to be both African and human in the fullest sense.” The principles of Us are the foundation of Kwanzaa. [us-organization.org]

6. Accomplished Mission

He sat on the organizing committee and authored the mission statement of the Million Man March. [pbs.org]7. Jail TimeIn 1971 he was sentenced to one to ten years in prison for felonious assault and false imprisonment charges related to the torture of female members of the Organization Us. He served four years. [mahalo.com]

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846. John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946. Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860. John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960. Both were particularly concerned with civil rights. Both wives lost a child while living in the White House. Both Presidents were shot on a Friday. Both Presidents were shot in the head. Now it gets really weird. Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy. Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln. Both were assassinated by Southerners. Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson. Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808. Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908. John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839. Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939. Both assassins were known by their three names. Both names are composed of fifteen letters. Now hang on to your seat. Lincoln was shot at the theater named "Ford." Kennedy was shot in a car called "Lincoln" made by "Ford." Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials. And here's the "kicker": A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland. A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe. AND...................: Lincoln was shot in a theater and the assassin ran to a warehouse... Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and the assassin ran to a theater...

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost a child while living in the White House.
Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.
Now it gets really weird.
Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s Secretary was named Lincoln.
Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.
Now hang on to your seat.
Lincoln was shot at the theater named “Ford.”
Kennedy was shot in a car called “Lincoln” made by “Ford.”
Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
And here’s the “kicker”:
A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.
Lincoln was shot in a theater and the assassin ran to a warehouse…
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and the assassin ran to a theater…