Theatre/the Arts

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

Thomas Rice, the face of Jim Crow

Thomas Rice (sketch)

*Thomas Dartmouth Rice was born on this date in1808. He was a White entertainer and playwright who popularized the Jim Crow character in minstrel shows.

Dancer extrodinaire, Frankie Manning

Frankie Manning

*Frankie Manning was born on this date in 1914. He was an African American dancer and choreographer.

From Jacksonville, Florida and raised in New York City, he started dancing in his early teens at a Sunday afternoon dance at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem to the music of Vernon Andrade. From there he moved on to the Renaissance Ballroom, which had an early evening dance for older teens with the live swing music of the Claude Hopkins Orchestra. Finally, Frankie "graduated" to the Savoy Ballroom, which was known for its great dancers and bands.

Artist of many talents, Thelma Streat

Thelma Streat

*Thelma Streat was born on this date in 1912. She was an African American Artist, Dancer, Educator and Folklorist.

From St. Louis to the world, Quincy Troupe

*Quincy Troupe was born on this date in 1939. He is an African American poet, performer, and editor.

Florence Mills, Harlem's "Blackbird"

Florence Mills

*On this date in 1896 Florence Mills was born. She was an African American singer, dancer.

From Washington D.C., she was raised in severe poverty. Her parents John and Nellie were illiterate migrants from Lynchburg, Virginia. A young Florence was on stage full-time as a child, first as a “pickaninny” in White vaudeville then as a sister act on the Black popular entertainment circuit.

Will Cook, excellent composer for Broadway

Will Cook

*On this date, Will Cook was born in 1869. He was an African American composer and arranger.

Born in Washington D.C., Will Marion Cook was the son of John Cook, the treasurer of Howard University. In 1882, he went to Oberlin College to study violin, returning three years later to give his first recitals. After studying in Berlin with the great Joseph Joachim, Cook returned to America and within five years was performing at Carnegie Hall.

Creative southern hands, Richmond Barthe


*On this date in 1901, Richmond Barthe was born. He was an African American sculptor.

From Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, his father died at 22, when he was only one month old. His mother was very devoted and influenced his aesthetic development significantly. When Barthe was twelve, his work was shown at the county fair in Mississippi and he continued to develop remarkably as an artist. At eighteen, having moved to New Orleans, he won first prize for a sketching he submitted in the Parish (county) competition.

Altovise Davis was a gifted dancer

Altovise Davis

*This date in 1943 marks the birth of Altovise Davis. She was an African American actress and dancer. She also was the wife of Sammy Davis Jr.

Born Altovise Gore in Charlotte, North Carolina she was the only child of Altovise and John Gore. When she was very young her family moved to Brooklyn, N. Y. where she graduated from the School of Performing Arts in 1961. After school she began her career as a dancer on Broadway.

Artist and Athlete, Ernie Barnes

Ernie Barnes

*Ernie Barnes was born on this date in 1938. He was an African American Neo-Mannerist artist and former professional football player.

Rudolph Dunbar, a talented international clarinetist

Rudolph Dunbar

Rudolph Dunbar was born on this date in 1907. He was a Guyanese conductor, clarinetist, and composer.

Dunbar was born in Nabaclis, British Guyana. He was 14 when he joined the British Guiana Militia Band as a clarinet-playing apprentice. He immigrated to the United States five years later, and began studying at the Institute of Musical Art, (now the Juilliard School) in New York, where he was also involved with the Harlem jazz scene. During this time, he was a recording artist, playing clarinet solos. He also established a friendship with Black composer William Grant Still.