On this day in 1914, Phi Beta Sigma - one of the first predominantly
African-American fraternities - was founded at Howard University, Washington
D.C. Founded by three black students called A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F.
Morse, and Charles I. Brown, the Greek letter fraternity was intended to
exemplify brotherhood, scholarship, and service through translating the
members’ skills into practical services to the wider community. The founders
also desired their fraternity to promote inclusivity, rather than seeing itself
as apart from the general university community. While not the first black
fraternity, it was one of the most successful, expanding to other American
campuses, organising youth mentoring clubs, and establishing chapters abroad in
Africa. Its sister sorority - Zeta Phi Beta - was established in 1920 at Howard
University. While Phi Beta Sigma is majority African-American, it also includes
members of Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian descent.
The Library of Congress identifies these handsome men in top hats and tails as the “Law graduating class at Howard University, Washington, D.C.” circa 1900. My favorite is the gentleman on the first row, second from the left.
Hildegarde Howard (4/3/1901 – 2/28/1998) pioneered the field of avian paleontology, and made no apologies.
This daughter of a screenwriter and musician grew up in the Los Angeles area in the early part of the 20th century. Despite a strong facility for writing, Howard focused her attention on biology rather than journalism. Taking an opportunity to work with paleontologist Chester Stock in the La Brea Tar Pits, Howard took the first of many steps in her 69-year long career.
She earned her BS in Paleontology from the University of California, Berkeley, and by 1923 she conducted research on saber-toothed cats for the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. She made her greatest achievements in the field of avian evolution, identifying 3 families, 13 genera, 57 species, and 2 subspecies.
Howard was the first woman to be awarded the Brewster Medal in 1953, and the first woman elected president of the Southern California Academy of Sciences (who would dedicate Hildegarde Howard Cenozoic Hall in 1977). In back to back years, Howard served as a Guggenheim Fellow in Earth Science, then as an Honorary Member of Cooper Ornithological Society, in 1962 and ‘63 respectively.
Billy Eckstine, one of the smoothest balladeers and bandleaders ever (and the man responsible for giving Sarah Vaughan one of her first big breaks) was born 100 years ago today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One of my favorite fun facts about Mr. Eckstine: he won a singing competition imitating Cab Calloway when he was a student at Howard University in the 1930s. In this photo, he is adjusting his tie while his first wife, June, applies her lipstick in their Manhattan apartment on April 11, 1950. Photo: Martha Holmes, one of the first female staff photographers at LIFE magazine.