Lena C. Taylor (born July 25, 1966) is a Democratic member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 4th District since 2005, and formerly served as the co-chair of the powerful Joint Committee on Finance. She previously served in the Wisconsin Assembly, representing the 18th District from 2003 through 2005.
Taylor, a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a 1984 graduate of Rufus King High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1990, and a law degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1993. As an undergraduate, she joined Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
After law school, Taylor worked as a public defender for more than two years, representing indigent citizens in need of legal services. In 1996, she opened Taylor and Associates Law Office, a general practice firm on the north side of Milwaukee.
Taylor was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in a special election in April 2003 and was subsequently elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2004. When Democrats were elected to the majority in the Wisconsin State Senate in November 2006, Taylor was chosen to Chair the Committee on Judiciary and Corrections, on which she had served for the preceding two years. In January 2007, Taylor was selected by the Majority Leader to serve on the powerful Joint Committee on Finance for the second time. Following the recall of Van Wanggaard in June 2012, and the return of Democrats to majority party control, Taylor was named co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance. She is the first African-American woman ever to serve as the co-chair of the committee.
As of her reelection in 2012, Senator Taylor currently serves on five different Senate Committees. She holds seats on two important economic committees: the Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism Committee, and also the Economic Development and Local Government Committee. Senator Taylor also looks to promote voting equality and urban representation through her position on the Elections and Urban Affairs Committee. While she no longer serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Taylor is still actively involved with the judicial and corrections system by occupying a seat on the Senate Joint Review on Criminal Penalties, and her dedication to community outreach. Furthermore, Senator Taylor also serves on the Senate Special Committee on Symposia Series on State Income Tax Reform Information.
In past sessions, Senator Taylor served on the influential Joint Committee on Finance, and as the first African-American to chair the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, expanding the committee’s work on criminal justice reforms and implemented the first ever “State of Justice” tour with the committee across Wisconsin.
During the protests in Wisconsin, Taylor, along with the 13 other Democratic State Senators, left the state to deny the State Senate a quorum on Governor Scott Walker’s “Budget Repair” legislation which repealed collective bargaining on benefits for public employees. Taylor was a frequent guest on progressive political talk shows, most notably appearing multiple times with MSNBC’s Ed Schultz.
During the course of debate in the Joint Committee on Finance and elsewhere, Taylor made statements comparing Walker’s proposed legislation to Adolf Hitler’s plan to eliminate unions. On her Twitter account she wrote “”LIKE HITLER in 1933, WALKER is busting unions.”
As a result of her stance on the issue, Taylor (along with seven other Democratic senators) was nominally subject to a recall attempt. However, her opponents were only able to obtain two signatures for her recall, as of April 7. Experts said that since Taylor is in a strongly partisan senate district, she was unlikely to be defeated in a recall election; and in fact no recall petitions were filed.
Taylor has traveled extensively as a part of her growing fame following the 2011 Wisconsin protests, speaking to labor and progressive groups nationwide.
Walter “Clyde” Frazier (born March 29, 1945) is an American former basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA). As their floor general, he led the New York Knicks to the franchise’s only two NBA Championships (1970 and 1973), and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987. Upon his retirement from basketball, Frazier went into broadcasting; he is currently a color commentator for telecasts of Knicks games on the MSG Network.
The eldest of nine children, Frazier attended Atlanta’s David Tobias Howard High School. He quarterbacked the football team and played catcher on the baseball team. He learned basketball on a rutted and dirt playground, the only facility available at his all-black school in the racially segregated South of the 1950s. After Howard, Frazier attended Southern Illinois University. Although he was offered other scholarships for his football skills, Frazier accepted a basketball offer from Southern Illinois University.
Frazier became one of the premier collegiate basketball players in the country. He was named a Division II All-American in 1964 and 1965. As a sophomore in 1965, Frazier led SIU to the NCAA Division II Tournament only to lose in the finals to Jerry Sloan and the Evansville Purple Aces 85-82 in overtime. In 1966, he was academically ineligible for basketball.
In 1967, Frazier and SIU won the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), beating Marquette University 71-56 in the final at Madison Square Garden in New York. Frazier was named MVP of the 1967 tournament.
Frazier was selected by the New York Knicks with the 5th pick in the 1967 NBA draft and played for them during which time he picked up the nickname “Clyde” because he wore a similar hat to Warren Beatty who played Clyde Barrow in the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1968. He was an NBA All-Star seven times (and was named MVP of the 1975 NBA All-Star Game), was named to the All-NBA First Team four times, the All-NBA Second Team twice, and the All-Defensive First Team seven times. With Frazier, the Knicks captured the NBA championships in 1970 and 1973. After 10 years in New York, Frazier ended his career as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In 1971, the New York Knicks traded for star guard Earl “the Pearl” Monroe to form what was known as the “Rolls Royce Backcourt” with Frazier. While there were initial questions as to whether Frazier and Monroe could coexist as teammates, the duo eventually meshed to become one of the most effective guard combinations of all time, leading the Knicks to the 1973 NBA championship. That pairing is one of few backcourts ever to feature two Hall of Famers and NBA 50th Anniversary Team members.
Frazier held Knicks franchise records for most games (759), minutes played (28,995), field goals attempted (11,669), field goals made (5,736), free throws attempted (4,017), free throws made (3,145), assists (4,791) and points (14,617). Center Patrick Ewing would eventually break most of those records, but Frazier’s assists record still stands.
Richard Roundtree (born July 9, 1942) is an American actor. He has been called “the first black action hero” for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the 1971 film, Shaft, and its sequels, Shaft’s Big Score (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973).
Born in New Rochelle, New York, Richard Roundtree graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1961 and played for the school’s undefeated and nationally ranked football team. He attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Roundtree was diagnosed with the rare disease male breast cancer in 1993 and underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.
Roundtree was a leading man in early 1970s blaxploitation films, his best-known role being Detective John Shaft in the action movie, Shaft (1971) and its sequels, Shaft’s Big Score (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973). Roundtree also appeared opposite Laurence Olivier and Ben Gazzara in Inchon (1981). On television, he played the slave Sam Bennett in the 1977 television series Roots and Dr. Daniel Reubens on Generations from 1989 to 1991. Before becoming an actor, he was a football player and a model. He played another private detective in 1984’s City Heat opposite Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. Although Roundtree worked throughout the 1990s, many of his films were not well-received, but he found success elsewhere in stage plays.
During that period, however, he reemerged on the small screen as a cultural icon. On September 19, 1991, Roundtree appeared in an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 with Vivica A. Fox. The episode was “Ashes to Ashes”, Roundtree playing Robinson Ashe Jr. Roundtree appeared in David Fincher’s critically acclaimed 1995 movie Seven, and in the 2000 Shaft again as John Shaft with Samuel L. Jackson playing the title character, the original Shaft’s nephew. Roundtree guest-starred in several episodes of the first season of Desperate Housewives as an amoral private detective. He also appeared in 1997’s George of the Jungle and played a high-school vice-principal in the 2005 movie, Brick. His voice was utilized as the title character in the hit PlayStation game Akuji the Heartless, where Akuji must battle his way out of the depths of hell at the bidding of the Baron.
Roundtree played John Shaft in a CBS-TV television series by the same name from 1973 to 1974. In 1997-98, Roundtree had a leading role as Phil Thomas in the short-lived Fox ensemble drama, 413 Hope St.. He portrayed Booker T. Washington in the 1999 television movie Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years. Then in 1999-2000, he costarred with Dick Van Patten, Richard Anderson, Deborah Winters, and Hugh O’Brian in the Warren Chaney miniseries, Y2K – World in Crisis.
Since 2000, Roundtree has appeared in the television series The Closer as Colonel D.B. Walter U.S.M.C. (retired), the father of a sniper, and in Heroes as Simone’s terminally ill father, Charles Deveaux. Next, Roundtree appeared as Eddie’s father-in-law in episodes of Lincoln Heights. Most recently, Roundtree had a supporting role in the 2008 Speed Racer film as a racer-turned-commentator who is an icon and hero to Speed. He also appeared in the two-parter in Season 1 of the Second Generation of Knight Rider as the father of FBI Agent Carrie Ravai, and currently co-stars as the father of “Being Mary Jane” aired on BET since 2013.
Gregory is an influential American comedian who has used his performance skills to convey to both white and black audiences his political message on civil rights. His social satire helped change the way white Americans perceived black American comedians since he first performed in public.
As a poor student who excelled at running, Gregory was aided by teachers at Sumner High School, among them Warren St. James. Gregory earned a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University Carbondale. There he set school records as a half-miler and miler. His college career was interrupted for two years in 1954 when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. The army was where he got his start in comedy, entering and winning several Army talent shows at the urging of his commanding officer, who had taken notice of Gregory’s penchant for joking. In 1956, Gregory briefly returned to SIU after his discharge, but dropped out because he felt that the university “didn’t want me to study, they wanted me to run”.
In the hopes of performing comedy professionally, Gregory moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he became part of a new generation of black comedians that included Nipsey Russell, Bill Cosby, and Godfrey Cambridge, all of whom broke with the minstrel tradition, which presented stereotypical black characters. Gregory drew on current events, especially racial issues, for much of his material: “Segregation is not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?”.
Gregory began his career as a comedian while serving in the military in the mid 1950s. He served in the army for a year and a half at Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Lee in Virginia and Ft. Smith in Arkansas. He was drafted in 1954 while attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. After being discharged in 1956 he returned to the university but did not receive a degree. With a desire to perform comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago.
In 1958, Gregory opened a nightclub called the Apex Club in Illinois. The club failed, landing Gregory in financial hardship. In 1959, Gregory landed a job as master of ceremonies at the Roberts Show Club.
Gregory performed as a comedian in small, primarily black-patronized nightclubs while working for the United States Postal Service during the daytime. He was one of the first black comedians to gain widespread acclaim performing for white audiences. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Gregory describes the history of black comics as limited: “Blacks could sing and dance in the white night clubs but weren’t allowed to stand flat-footed and talk to white folks, which is what a comic does.”
In 1961, while working at the Black-owned Roberts Show Bar in Chicago, he was spotted by Hugh Hefner performing the following material before a largely white audience:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent twenty years there one night.
Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant and this white waitress came up to me and said, “We don’t serve colored people here.” I said, “That’s all right. I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.”
Then these three white boys came up to me and said, “Boy, we’re giving you fair warning. Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you”. So I put down my knife and fork, I picked up that chicken and I kissed it. Then I said, “Line up, boys!”
Gregory attributes the launch of his career to Hugh Hefner, who watched him perform at Herman Roberts Show Bar. Based on that performance, Hefner hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club as a replacement for comedian Professor Irwin Corey.
Gregory’s first TV appearance was on the late night The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar. He soon began appearing nationally and on television.
Early in Dick Gregory’s career, he was offered a gig on The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar. Paar’s show was known for helping propel entertainers to the next level of their careers. At the time, black comics did perform on the show but were never asked to stay after their performances to sit on the famous couch and talk with the host. Dick Gregory declined the invitation to perform on the show several times until finally Jack Paar called him to find out
why he refused to perform on the show. Eventually, in order to have Gregory perform, the producers agreed to allow him to stay after his performance and talk with the host on air. This was a first in the show’s history. Dick Gregory’s interview on The Tonight Show spurred conversations across America. His interview provided an opportunity for viewers to see an African American in a positive and humane light.
Gregory is number 82 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of all time and has his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Gregory is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
He was a former co-host with radio personality Cathy Hughes, and is still a frequent morning guest, on WOL 1450 AM talk radio’s “The Power”, the flagship station of Hughes’ Radio One. He also appears regularly on the nationally syndicated Imus in the Morning program.
Gregory appears as “Mr. Sun” on the television show Wonder Showzen (the third episode, entitled “Ocean”, aired in 2005). As Chauncey, a puppet character, imbibes a hallucinogenic substance, Mr. Sun warns, “Don’t get hooked on imagination, Chauncey. It can lead to terrible, horrible things.” Gregory also provides guest commentary on the Wonder Showzen Season One DVD. Large segments of his commentary were intentionally bleeped out, including the names of several dairy companies, as he made potentially slanderous remarks concerning ill effects that the consumption of cow milk has on human beings.
Gregory attended and spoke at the funeral of James Brown on December 30, 2006, in Augusta, Georgia.
Gregory is an occasional guest on the Mark Thompson’s “Make It Plain” Sirius Channel 146 Radio Show from 3pm to 6pm PST.
Gregory appeared on The Alex Jones Show on September 14, 2010, March 19, 2012, and April 1, 2014.
Gregory gave the keynote Address for Black History Month at Bryn Mawr College on February 28, 2013. His take-away message to the students was to never accept injustice.
“Once I accept injustice, I become injustice. For example, paper mills give off a terrible stench. But the people who work there, don’t smell it. Remember, Dr. King was assassinated when he went to work for garbage collectors. To help them as workers to enforce their rights. They couldn’t smell the stench of the garbage all around them anymore. They were used to it. They would eat their lunch out of a brown bag sitting on the garbage truck. One day, a worker was sitting inside the back of the truck on top of the garbage, and got crushed to death because no one knew he was there.”
In 2013, Dick Gregory continues to be a ringing voice of the black power movement. Recently, he was featured in a Fantagraphics book by Pat Thomas entitled Listen, Whitey: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965–1975, which uses the political recordings of the Civil Rights era to highlight sociopolitical meanings throughout the movement. Comedian Dick Gregory is known for comedic performances that not only made people laugh, but mocked the establishment. According to Thomas, Dick Gregory’s monologues reflect a time when entertainment needed to be political to be relevant, which is why he included his standup in the collection. Dick Gregory is featured along with the likes of Huey Newton, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes and Bill Cosby.
Active in the Civil Rights Movement, on October 7, 1963, Gregory came to Selma, Alabama and spoke for two hours on a public platform two days before the voter registration drive known as “Freedom Day” (October 7, 1963).
In 1964, Gregory became more involved in civil rights activities, activism against the Vietnam War, economic reform, anti-drug issues, conspiracy theories, and others. As a part of his activism, he went on several hunger strikes and campaigns in America and overseas.
Gregory began his political career by running against Richard J. Daley for the mayoralty of Chicago in 1967. Though he did not emerge victorious, this would not prove to be the end of his dalliances in electoral politics.
Dick Gregory in 1965
Gregory unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States in 1968 as a write-in candidate of the Freedom and Peace Party, which had broken off from the Peace and Freedom Party. He garnered 47,097 votes (including one from Hunter S. Thompson) with fellow activist Mark Lane as his running mate in some states, David Frost in others, and Dr. Benjamin Spock in Virginia and Pennsylvania garnering more than the party he had left. The Freedom and Peace Party also ran other candidates, including Beulah Sanders for New York State Senate and Flora Brown for New York State Assembly. His efforts landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents.
Gregory then wrote the book Write Me In about his presidential campaign. One interesting anecdote therein relates the story of a publicity stunt that came out of Operation Breadbasket in Chicago where the campaign had printed dollar bills with Gregory’s image on them, some of which made it into circulation, causing considerable problems, but priceless publicity.
The majority of these bills were quickly seized by the federal government. A large contributing factor to the seizure came from the bills resembling authentic US currency enough that they worked in many dollar-cashing machines of the time. Gregory avoided being charged with a federal crime, later joking that the bills couldn’t really be considered US currency because “everyone knows a black man will never be on a US bill.” For modest prices the bills are still readily available from online auction sites.
Shortly after this time Gregory became an outspoken critic of the Warren Commission findings that President John Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. On March 6, 1975, Gregory and assassination researcher Robert Groden appeared on Geraldo Rivera’s late night ABC talk show Goodnight America. An important historical event happened that night when the famous Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination was shown to the public on TV for the first time. The public’s response and outrage to its showing led to the forming of the Hart-Schweiker investigation, which contributed to the Church Committee Investigation on Intelligence Activities by the United States, which resulted in the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation.
Gregory is an outspoken feminist, and in 1978 joined Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, Margaret Heckler, Barbara Mikulski, and other suffragists to lead the National ERA March for Ratification and Extension, a march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the United States Capitol of over 100,000 on Women’s Equality Day (August 26), 1978 to demonstrate for a ratification deadline extension for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution, and for the ratification of the ERA. The march was ultimately successful in extending the deadline to June 30, 1982, and Gregory joined other activists to the Senate for celebration and victory speeches by pro-ERA Senators, Members of Congress, and activists. The ERA still narrowly failed to be ratified by the extended ratification date, however, but the Women’s Movement was largely successful in securing gender equality in the laws and society.
On July 21, 1979, Gregory appeared at the Amandla Festival where Bob Marley, Patti LaBelle, and Eddie Palmieri, amongst others, had performed. Gregory gave a speech before Marley’s performance, blaming President Carter, and showing his support for the international Anti-Apartheid movements. Gregory and Mark Lane conducted landmark research into the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which helped move the U.S. House Select Assassinations Committee to investigate the murder, along with that of John F. Kennedy. Lane was author of conspiracy theory books such as Rush to Judgment. The pair wrote the King conspiracy book Code Name Zorro, which postulated that convicted assassin James Earl Ray did not act alone. Gregory has also argued that the moon landing was faked and the commonly accepted account of the 9/11 attacks is incorrect, among other conspiracy theories.
Gregory was an outspoken activist during the US Embassy Hostage Crisis in Iran. In 1980 he traveled to Tehran to attempt to negotiate the hostages’ release and engaged in a public hunger strike there, weighing less than 100 pounds (45 kg) when he returned to the United States.
In 1998 Gregory spoke at the celebration of the birthday of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. with President Bill Clinton in attendance. Not long after, the President told Gregory’s long-time friend and public relations Consultant Steve Jaffe, “I love Dick Gregory; he is one of the funniest people on the planet.” They spoke of how Gregory had made a comment on Dr. King’s birthday that broke everyone into laughter, when he noted that the President made Speaker Newt Gingrich ride “in the back of the plane,” on an Air Force One trip overseas.
Gregory was diagnosed with lymphoma in late 1999. He said he was treating the cancer with herbs, vitamins, and exercise, which he believes kept the cancer in remission.
Since the late 1980s, Gregory has been a figure in the health food industry by advocating for a raw fruit and vegetable diet. He wrote the introduction to Viktoras Kulvinskas’ book Survival into the 21st Century. Gregory first became a vegetarian in the 1960s, and has lost a considerable amount of weight by going on extreme fasts, some lasting upwards of 50 days. He developed a diet drink called “Bahamian Diet Nutritional Drink” and went on TV shows advocating his diet and to help the morbidly obese. In 2003, Gregory and Cornel West wrote letters on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s CEO, asking that the company improve their animal-handling procedures.
At a Civil Rights rally marking the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Gregory criticized the United States, calling it “the most dishonest, ungodly, unspiritual nation that ever existed in the history of the planet. As we talk now, America is 5 percent of the world’s population and consumes 96 percent of the world’s hard drugs”.
Gregory announced a hunger strike on September 10, 2010, saying in a commentary published by the conspiracy website Centre for Research on Globalisation in Montreal that he doubted the official U.S. report about the attacks on September 11, 2001. “One thing I know is that the official government story of those events, as well as what took place that day at the Pentagon, is just that, a story. This story is not the truth, but far from it. I was born on October 12, 1932. I am announcing today that I will be consuming only liquids beginning Sunday until my eightieth birthday in 2012 and until the real truth of what truly happened on that day emerges and is publicly known.”
Higginbotham was born in Chicago, Illinois, and attended Whitney Young Magnet High School, graduating in 1982. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1987, and a Masters of Management Science (1992) and Masters in Space Systems (1996) both from the Florida Institute of Technology. She is the third African American woman to go into space, after Mae Jemison and Stephanie Wilson.
Higginbotham is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and The Links, Incorporated.
Higginbotham began her career in 1987 at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, as a Payload Electrical Engineer in the Electrical and Telecommunications Systems Division. Within six months she became the lead for the Orbiter Experiments (OEX) on OV-102, the Space Shuttle Columbia. She later worked on the Shuttle payload bay reconfiguration for all Shuttle missions and conducted electrical compatibility tests for all payloads flown aboard the Shuttle. She was also tasked by KSC management to undertake several special assignments where she served as the Executive Staff Assistant to the Director of Shuttle Operations and Management, led a team of engineers in performing critical analysis for the Space Shuttle flow in support of a simulation model tool, and worked on an interactive display detailing the Space Shuttle processing procedures at Spaceport USA (Kennedy Space Center’s Visitors Center). Higginbotham then served as backup orbiter project engineer for OV-104, Space Shuttle Atlantis, where she participated in the integration of the orbiter docking station (ODS) into the space shuttle used during Shuttle/Mir docking missions. Two years later, she was promoted to lead orbiter project engineer for OV-102, Space Shuttle Columbia. In this position, she held the technical lead government engineering position in the firing room where she supported and managed the integration of vehicle testing and troubleshooting. She actively participated in 53 space shuttle launches during her 9-year tenure at Kennedy Space Center.
Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Higginbotham reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. Since that time, she had been assigned technical duties in the Payloads & Habitability Branch, the Shuttle Avionics & Integration Laboratory (SAIL), the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Operations (Ops) Support Branch, where she tested various modules of the International Space Station for operability, compatibility, and functionality prior to launch, the Astronaut Office CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) Branch in the startup and support of numerous space station missions and space shuttle missions, the Robotics Branch, and Lead for the International Space Station Systems Crew Interfaces Section.
Higginbotham logged over 308 hours in space during her mission with the crew of STS-116 where her primary task was to operate the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS). Higginbotham took a scarf for the Houston Dynamo on board with her during her mission.
Higginbotham was originally assigned to the crew of STS-126 targeted for launch in September 2008. On November 21, 2007, NASA announced a change in the crew manifest, due to Higginbotham’s decision to leave NASA to take a job in the private sector. Donald Pettit replaced Higginbotham for STS-126.