Theatre/the Arts

Those who serve as Black examples in dance, painting, sculptor, stage performance, and more.

An exceptional opera singer, Leontyne Price

Leontyne Price

*Leontyne Price was born on this date in 1927. She is an African American operatic singer.

Entertainer, Aida Overton Walker

Aida Walker

*On this date we recall Aida Overton Walker, born in 1880. She was a singer, dancer, actress, and choreographer, regarded as the leading African American female performing artist at the turn of the century.

Playwright May Miller born

May Miller

*On this date we celebrate the birth of May Miller in 1899. She was an African American playwright and poet associated with New York’s Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s.

Born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of a Howard University sociologist, Miller grew up in an intellectual household in which W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington were frequent guests. She graduated from Howard University in 1920, while there she earned an award for her one-act play Within the Shadows. Afterwards she taught secondary school and continued to write.

William Pleasant, artist who chronicled Black heritage

William Merriette Pleasant, Jr., an African American artist, was born on this date in 1928.

He was born in Savannah, GA, and a graduate of that cit's Beach High School. Pleasant attended Savannah State College, Delaware State College, and Tyler School of Fine Arts of Philadelphia, PA. He is a graduate of York College of York, Pennsylvania. He was one of the first members of the Bahai Faith of Savannah, and served on its assembly. Pleasant was a 33 degree Mason, a corporal in the United States Air Force, and a member of the Mu Eta Kappa Fraternity.

Grace Bumbry, leading lady of opera on international stage

Grace Bumbry

This date celebrates the birth of Grace Bumbry, an African American opera singer, in 1937.

She was born Grace Ann Bumbry in St. Louis, Missouri. She studied music at Boston University, Northwestern University, and the Music Academy of the West. She has has performed as both a soprano and a mezzo-soprano. While at Northwestern she became the student and protégé of Lotte Lehmann, a famous German-born opera diva.

Alvin Ailey was a modern dance original

Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey was born on this date in 1931. He was an African American dancer and choreographer, and founding director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

African American Dance, a brief history

*This date is dedicated to African American Dance. Africans brought their dances to North and South America, and the Caribbean Islands as slave labor starting in the 1500s. The dance styles of hundreds of African ethnic groups merged with European dances, forming the extension of the African aesthetic in the Americas. Dance has always been an integral part of daily life in Africa. In the Americas, it helped enslaved Africans connect with their homeland keeping their cultural traditions alive.

Robert Thompson, painter, genus

Robert Louis Thompson

On this date in 1937, Robert Louis Thompson was born. He was an African-American painter and one of the youngest black artists of his day to gain fame in the United States.