JUNE 22, 1909

Katherine Dunham Credit: Wikipedia

Esteemed choreographer, activist and educator Katherine Dunham was born in Joliet, Illinois. For more than 30 years, she directed the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, the only self-supported black dance company in America at the time. 

She was often called the “Mother of Black Dance.” In the 1940s, Dunham’s troupe traveled across America, even performing in the segregated South. After discovering that African Americans were not allowed to buy tickets to one of her shows, she refused to perform. 

She received a standing ovation after a performance in Louisville, Kentucky, but following the performance she made an announcement that she would never perform there again because the manager would not allow black and white people to sit next to each other. She also expressed a hope that this would one day change.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.