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Musician, aviator, U.S. Treasurer honored in Juneteenth ceremony

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The Black American Heritage Foundation will present Fred Smith and his quartet in a tribute to pioneering jazz musician Budd Johnson at the museum, Saturday, June 14, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Renowned saxophonist Budd Johnson was born in 1904 in Dallas, and became a longtime Queens and Hempstead, L.., resident. Known among fellow musicians as a superb instrumentalist, he played in the orchestras of Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines in his early career, and during the 1940s and ’50s he worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Quincy Jones, and Count Basie. Johnson was a distinguished “Texas Tenor” whose hits include Lionel Hampton’s “Flying Home.”

An early supporter of BAHF, Johnson encouraged the interest of young musicians in the history of American music, hoping that the full story of the black contribution to American music could be told. It was though his suggestion and support that the York College Black American Heritage Foundation Music History Archive was founded.

BAHF will also honor distinguished Texas-born women Bessie Coleman and Azie Taylor Morton on Juneteenth 2003. Bessie Coleman (1896-1926) was the first African American female pilot. Before her career was cut short in a training accident, she delighted crowds with heart-stopping air stunts at hundreds of shows in the 1920s. In 1992 the U.S. Postal Service issued a Bessie Coleman stamp to recognize the scope of her achievements.

Azie Taylor Morton, born in 1936 in Dale, Texas, held the distinction of being the first and only African-American woman to become treasurer of the United States. Memorabilia from Bessie Coleman’s and Azie Taylor Morton’s lives will be on display.

The Black American Heritage Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a fuller awareness of the cultural heritage of African Americans. The event is open to the public and free with admission.

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