Black Facts for January 19th

1856 - Mason, Bridget “Biddy” (1818–1891)

Bridget “Biddy” Mason, born a slave in Mississippi in 1818, achieved financial success that enabled her to support her extended family for generations despite the fact that she was illiterate. In a landmark case she sued her master for their freedom, saved her earnings, invested in real estate, and became a well-known philanthropist in Los Angeles, California.

Although born in Mississippi, Mason was owned by slaveholders in Georgia and South Carolina before she was returned to Mississippi.  Her last owner, Robert Marion Smith, a Mississippi Mormon convert, followed the call of church leaders to settle in the West.  Mason and her children joined other slaves on Smith’s religious pilgrimage to establish a new Mormon community in what would become Salt Lake City, Utah.  At the time Utah was still part of Mexico. 

In 1848 30-year-old Mason walked 1,700 miles behind a 300-wagon caravan that eventually arrived in the Holladay-Cottonwood area of the Salt Lake Valley. Along the route west Mason’s responsibilities included setting up and breaking camp, cooking the meals, herding the cattle, and serving as a midwife as well as taking care of her three young daughters aged ten, four, and an infant.

In 1851 Smith and his family and slaves set out in a 150-wagon caravan for San Bernardino, California to establish yet another Mormon community. Ignoring Brigham Young’s warning that slavery was illegal in California, Smith brought Mason and other enslaved people to the new community.  Along the trek Mason met Charles H. and Elizabeth Flake Rowan, free blacks, who urged her to legally contest her slave status once she reached California, a free state.  Mason received additional encouragement by free black friends whom she met in California, Robert and Minnie Owens.

In December 1855 Robert Smith, fearing losing his slaves, decided to move with them to Texas, a slave state. The Owens family had a vested interest in the Mason family as one of their sons was romantically involved with Mason’s 17-year-old daughter.  When

Source: Black Past

2006 - Wilson Pickett

Wilson Pickett , (born March 18, 1941, Prattville, Alabama, U.S.—died January 19, 2006, Reston, Virginia), American singer-songwriter, whose explosive style helped define the soul music of the 1960s. Pickett was a product of the Southern black church, and gospel was at the core of his musical manner and onstage persona. He testified rather than sang, preached rather than crooned. His delivery was marked by the fervour of religious conviction, no matter how secular the songs he sang.

Along with thousands of other Southern farmworkers, Pickett migrated in the 1950s to industrial Detroit, Michigan, where his father worked in an auto plant. His first recording experience was in pure gospel. He sang with the Violinaires and the Spiritual Five, modeling himself after Julius Cheeks of the Sensational Nightingales, a thunderous shouter.

Pickett’s switch to secular music came quickly. As a member of the Falcons, a hardcore rhythm-and-blues vocal group, he sang lead on his own composition “I Found a Love” (1962), one of the songs that interested Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler in Pickett as a solo artist. “Pickett was a pistol,” said Wexler, who nicknamed him “the Wicked Pickett” and sent him to Memphis, Tennessee, to write with Otis Redding’s collaborator, guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MG’s. The result was a smash single, “In the Midnight Hour” (1965). From that moment on, Pickett was a star. With his dazzling good looks and confident demeanour, he stood as a leading exponent of the Southern-fried school of soul singing. His unadorned straight-from-the-gut approach was accepted, even revered, by a civil-rights-minded pop culture.

After his initial string of smashes—“Land of 1000 Dances” (1966), “Mustang Sally” (1966), “Funky Broadway” (1967)—Pickett was successfully produced by Philadelphians Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who took a bit of the edge off his fiery style on “Engine Number 9” (1970) and “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You” (1971). Before leaving Atlantic, Pickett enjoyed another

Source: Brittanica
Blackfacts Public Beta 06.21
(Production Environment)