Today in Black History: March 23


2013 – Ruth Alice Lucas Dies

Ruth Alice Lucas, was the first African American woman to be promoted to the rank of full colonel in the United States Air Force. She was born in Stamford, Connecticut on November 28, 1920. By the time she retired from the Service in 1970, Lucas remained the highest-ranking Black woman in the Air Force. The Defense Meritorious Service Medal was among her military decorations.

Col. Ruth Alice Lucas died March 23, 2013 at the age of 92 at her home in Washington, D.C. She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


1953 – Chaka Khan Born

Chaka Khan was born Yvette Marie Stevens in Chicago, Illinois on March 23, 1953. Khan was introduced to jazz by her maternal grandmother, Maude, at a young age. In 1972 at the age of 19, she was discovered by members of R&B band Rufus.  The following year Rufus signed a recording contract with ABC Records. The band had modest success until their 1974 breakout hit, Tell Me Something Good, with Khan performing most of the vocals. Until Khan left to establish her solo career, Rufus released six platinum albums between 1974 and 1978 on which Khan was the lead singer.

In 1978 Khan released her first album as a solo artist, on the Warner Brothers label. The album entitled Chaka included I’m Every Woman, considered by many of her fans to be her signature song. Khan later hit platinum with the first single and title track of the 1984 album I Feel for You. Chaka Khan has won ten GRAMMYs and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on September 27, 2011. She continues to tour and produce music.