Will Rogers Institute Celebrates Black History Month by Recognizing Two Prominent Entertainers

In 1976 President Gerald Ford called upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

This year The Will Rogers Institute celebrates two entertainers with an interesting connection to our history. The first, former tuberculosis patient at the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital in Saranac Lake New York, Bill Bailey. Mr. Bailey is the originator of the ‘moon walk’ made popular by Michael Jackson. Mr. Bailey called it the ‘step back’ and used the move when he left the stage.

Make sure and watch the video to the end!

Mr. Bailey was trained by Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, another icon who was portrayed by the late actor and entertainer, Gregory Hines1. Mr. Hines performed, in his youth, at the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital with his older brother Maurice. Together, they were known as the ‘Hines Kids’. Just imagine how fun it must have been to watch these two perform at the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital!

We are grateful to be tied in some way to two larger than life entertainers, Mr. Bill Bailey and Mr. Gregory Hines.

1Mr. Hines recorded a public service announcement for the Will Rogers Institute about the warning signs of stroke.