By Kelvin Muhia
Born with a superb leadership gift, Young was a labor activist who founded a number of unions to support black Americans. Although Young suffered some political friction with the American government, his determination led him to become the first black American appointed in the Democratic National Committee, as well as the first black mayor of Detroit.
Coleman Young was born on 24th May 1918 in Tuscaloosa Alabama to William and Ida Young. In 1923 at the age of five, Young’s family moved to Detroit, Michigan, with aims of escaping the violence, racism, and political injustice that existed in the South. Coleman attended public schools in Detroit and was among the few students who were eligible for a scholarship. Due to lack of support from his parents, Coleman dropped out of college and instead took a job in the Ford Motor Company.
From this point, Coleman became a workers’ rights activist who fearlessly fought for the rights of African American workers.
From the 1950s, Coleman joined politics and was elected in the Michigan senate in 1963. In 1968, Coleman became the first black American appointed in the Democratic National Committee, and in 1973, he became the first black mayor of Detroit. Having served Detroit for five terms and breaking history as the longest serving mayor in the city, Coleman quit politics due to health concerns. At the age of 79, Coleman Young succumbed to respiratory failure on November 29, 1997.
Born on May 24, 1944, Patti LaBelle is a legendary African American singer, author and actress. Born to Henry and Bertha Holte, LaBelle grew up listening to secular music, especially R&B and Jazz. In early 1960s, LaBelle began her singing career with a vocal group called Patti LaBelle and the BlueBelle. After releasing major hits such as “Lady Marmalade,” the BlueBelle became the first African American group to appear in the cover of the Rolling Stone Magazine.
In 1976, the group split and LaBelle began her career as a solo artist. Among the major hits achieved by LaBelle during her solo career include “Are You My Friend,” “If Only You Knew,” “Stir It Up,” and “All People.” Among the numerous awards won by this artist include seven NAACP Image Awards, two Grammy Awards (nominated for eleven), and a nomination for two Emmy Awards.
Dwight Errington Myers, also known as “Heavy D,” is a Jamaican-born American rapper, singer, actor, and former leader of the Heavy D & the Boyz. Born on May 24, 1967, Heavy D collaborated with famous hip hop artists, such as Eddie F, Janet Jackson, T. Roy, and Pete Rock. Among the hit albums delivered by Heavy D during his career include “Peaceful Journey,” “Nuttin But Love,” and “Waterbed Hev,” among others.
Heavy D made his final performance with Eddie F at the 2011 Bet Hip Hop Awards. On November 8, 2011, Heavy D collapsed and died outside his home in California. According to a report by Cedars Medical Centre, Heavy D’s death was caused by pulmonary embolism.