Bass Reeves


During the Old West, many African-Americans distinguished themselves as brave and resourceful lawmen. The most prominent was Bass Reeves, who rose from ex-slave to U.S. Marshall. Reeves taught himself to be fast with a revolver, which served him well over his thirty-two years of service during which he served 3,000 warrants. He killed fourteen outlaws Read More »

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Crispus Attucks


The first person to die for the cause of American independence was a runaway slave who became a sailor and ropemaker. On March 5, 1770, British soldiers show and killed Attucks along with four other men in what became known as the “Boston Massacre.” John Adams, who would become the second American president, defended the Read More »

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Alexander Hamilton


Yes, he’s the guy on the ten-dollar bill (during the Civil War, he was also on the $2, $5, $10, and $50 bills). And to many school children he may be more famous for being killed during a duel with Aaron Burr. But Hamilton was the only committed abolitionist among the founding fathers. Despite strong Read More »

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Harriet Tubman


Harriet Tubman was one of the most courageous people in history. Most people know that she was a prominent figure in the Underground Railroad, helping dozens of runaway slaves to escape into Canada. But what many people don’t know is that this ex-slave was also the first American woman to plan and execute a military Read More »

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Dizzy Gillespie


OO-BOP-SH-BAMThis light-hearted Dizzy Gillespie song is the epitome of both the man and the Bebop movement that he helped popularize. At first, the jazz traditionalists were put off by Bebop because of its fast tempos, flattened fifths, and improvisation that focused on harmonic structure rather than the more familiar melody. But Dizzy’s lovable presence – Read More »

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Charlie Parker


ConfirmationThis classic 1953 Charlie Parker work is a lively blend of Parker’s alto sax with accompanying piano, bass, and drums. It’s clear to see why the “Bird,” along with Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, were the Holy Trinity of Bebop. They were anxious to abandon the swing style of jazz that you could dance to Read More »

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Imhotep was a Renaissance man long before the rest of the world knew what a renaissance was. While Europeans were scratching themselves where the sun don’t shine, this adviser to the pharaoh was busy exploring the fields of medicine and architecture. In fact, he is considered the first physician and architect in history who is Read More »

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Larry Young


Jazz organist Larry Young (aka Khalid Yasin Abdul Aziz) set new standards and technique for jazz organ. Thought he started as a soul-jazz player, under the influence of John Coltrane he developed into a much more accomplished post-bop musician. His organ playing on “If,” from his 1965 Unity album, evolves throughout the song. It’s as Read More »

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Sarah Vaughan


The Man I LoveThere’s a reason Sarah Vaughan was known as “The Divine One.” She was a cutting edge jazz vocalist for most of her long career and this song shows her total mastery of the jazz vocal. The trill in her voice is both seductive and sedative. She worked with most of the jazz Read More »

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