· July 31, 1918 Henry “Hank” Jones, jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi but raised in Pontiac, Michigan. Jones studied piano at an early age and by the age of 13 was performing in Michigan and Ohio. In 1944, he moved to New York City and from 1948 to 1953 he was accompanist for Ella Fitzgerald. From 1959 to 1975, Jones was staff pianist for CBS studio which included backing guests like Frank Sinatra on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Jones recorded prolifically as an unaccompanied soloist, in duos with other pianist, and with various small ensembles. His recordings include “Bop Redux” (1977), “I Remember You” (1977), “Steal Away” (1995), and “Round Midnight” (2006). In 1989, he was designated a NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2003 he received the Jazz Living Legend Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. In 2008, Jones was presented the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, by President George W. Bush and in 2009 he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. Jones was nominated for five Grammy Awards and in 2009 received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Jones died May 16, 2010.
· July 31, 1921 Whitney Moore Young, Jr., civil rights leader, was born in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky. Young earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Kentucky State University in 1941 and his Master of Arts degree in social work from the University of Minnesota in 1947. Young served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945, rising to the rank of first sergeant. In 1961, Young became executive director of the National Urban League where he served until 1971. During that time, he worked to end employment discrimination in the United States and turned the National Urban League from a relatively passive civil rights organization into one that aggressively fought for equitable access to socioeconomic opportunity for the historically disenfranchised. He also expanded the organization from 38 employees to 1,600 and the annual budget from $325,000 to $6,100,000. Young also served as the president of the National Association of Social Workers from 1969 to 1971. In 1969, President Lyndon Johnson honored Young with the country’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On March 11, 1971, Young drowned while swimming in Lagos, Nigeria. Hundreds of schools and other sites are named for Young. In addition, Clark Atlanta University named its School of Social Work in Young’s honor, the Boy Scouts of America created the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Service Award, and Young’s birthplace is designated a National Historic Landmark. Young authored “To Be Equal” in 1964 and “Beyond Racism: Building an Open Society” in 1969. His biography, “Whitney M. Young, Jr. and the Struggle for Civil Rights”, was published in 1989.
· July 31, 1931 Kenneth Earl Burrell, jazz guitarist, was born in Detroit, Michigan. Burrell began playing guitar at the age of 12 and while still a student at Wayne State University made his debut recording as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s sextet in 1954. In 1955, he graduated from Wayne with a Bachelor of Music degree and the next year moved to New York City. Burrell has recorded about 40 albums, including “Midnight Blue” (1967), “Soft Winds” (1993), “Lotus Blossom” (1995), and “Lucky So and So” (2001). Burrell has also served as director of jazz studies at the University of California. In 2005, Burrell was designated a NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.
· July 31, 1954 Flora Jean “Flo” Hyman, Olympic and professional volleyball player, was born in Inglewood, California. By age 17, Hyman was 6 feet 5 inches. She attended the University of Houston as that school’s first female scholarship athlete and was a three-time All-American selection. In 1984, Hyman was a member of the United States volleyball team that won the Silver medal at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Hyman was the most famous volleyball player of her time with a spike that traveled up to 110 miles per hour. Hyman died January 24, 1986 while playing in Japan from an aortic dissection resulting from previously undiagnosed Marfan Syndrome. In 1987, the Women’s Sports Foundation established the annual Flo Hyman Award which is given “to a female athlete who captures Hyman’s dignity, spirit and commitment to excellence” and in 1988 she was posthumously inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame.
· July 31, 1956 Deval Laurdine Patrick, the first African American Governor of Massachusetts, was born in the Robert Taylor Homes housing projects in Chicago, Illinois. Patrick graduated from Harvard College cum laude in 1978 and Harvard Law School with honors in 1982. From 1994 to 1997, he served as United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division where he worked on issues including racial profiling, fair lending enforcement, and discrimination based on gender and disability. In 1997, Patrick was appointed chairman of Texaco’s Equality and Fairness Task Force to oversee implementation of the terms of a race discrimination settlement at Texaco. After serving in that capacity for two years, he was appointed vice president and general counsel for the company. From 2000 to 2004, he worked as executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary for the Coca Cola Company. In 2006, Patrick was elected Governor of Massachusetts and he was re-elected in 2010. Patrick published his autobiography, “A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life”, in 2011.
· July 31, 1966 Earl Rudolph “Bud” Powell, jazz pianist, died. Powell was born September 27, 1924 in New York City. At an early age, Powell learned classical piano but by the age of eight was interested in jazz and by 15 was playing in his brother’s band. His debut recording was with Cootie Williams’ band in 1944. In 1947, he made his debut recording as a leader with the album “Bud Powell Trio.” Other albums by Powell include “The Amazing Bud Powell” (1951), “Blues in the Closet” (1956), and “Bud Powell in Paris” (1963). Many people referred to Powell as “the Charlie Parker of the Piano.” Powell suffered from mental illness throughout his later life. In 1966, he was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. “Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell” was published in 1986 and was the basis for the movie “Round Midnight.”
· July 31, 1981 Arnette R. Hubbard was installed as the first woman and 39th President of the National Bar Association in Detroit, Michigan. A native of Stephens, Arkansas, Hubbard earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University and her Juris Doctor degree from John Marshall Law School in 1969. She began her career in 1969 as a lawyer for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She served as the only woman member of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners for eight years where she ensured greater access to the voting process through aggressive voter recruitment programs. In 1994, she served as an official monitor of the first South African election after apartheid was abolished. In 1997 she was appointed a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
· July 31, 1986 Theodore Shaw “Teddy” Wilson, jazz pianist, died. Wilson was born November 24, 1912 in Austin, Texas. He studied piano and violin at Tuskegee Institute. In 1935, Wilson joined the Benny Goodman Trio, becoming the first black musician to perform in public with a previously all-white group. Wilson recorded 50 hit records with various singers such as Lena Horne and Billie Holiday. His albums include “I Got Rhythm” (1956), “Pres and Teddy” (1956), and “With Billie in Mind” (1972). Wilson was designated a NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1986 and was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1987. He is considered one of the most influential jazz pianists of his time.