16 -30 April in Black History
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- 1862 - Slavery is abolished in Washington, DC, and
$993,407 in compensation is paid to slave owners for their lost "property."
1868 - Louisiana voters approve a new constitution and elect state officers, including the
first African American lieutenant governor, Oscar J. Dunn, and the first African American
state treasurer, Antoine Dubuclet. Article Thirteen of the new constitution
bans segregation in public accommodation: "All the persons shall enjoy equal rights
and privileges upon any conveyances of a public character; and all places of business, or
of public resort, or for which a license is required by either State, Parish or municipal
authority, shall be deemed places of a public character and shall be opened to the
accommodation and patronage of all persons, without distinction or discrimination on
account of race or color."
1869 - Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett is appointed Consul General to Haiti and the Dominican
Republic, the first African American to serve in a diplomatic position for the United
States. Bassett will hold the post for 12 years.
1947 - Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. is born in New York City. He will become one of
the finest basketball players in history, first with UCLA, then with the Milwaukee Bucks
and, from 1975 to his retirement in 1990, with the Los Angeles Lakers. After
his conversion to Islam in 1971, he will change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar early in
his professional career. The all-time leading scorer in the NBA, he will lead the Lakers
to five NBA championships, including back-to-back titles in 1987 and 1988.
1962 - Three Louisiana segregationists are excommunicated by Archbishop Joseph Rummel for
continuing their opposition to his order for integration of New Orleans parochial schools.
1965 - Maj. General Benjamin O. Davis Jr., assistant deputy chief of staff of the U.S. Air
Force, is named lieutenant general, the highest rank attained by an African American to
date in the armed services.
1973 - Lelia Smith Foley becomes the first African American female to be elected mayor of
a U.S. city when she takes office in the small town of Taft, Oklahoma. She will hold the
position for 13 years.
- 1758 - Frances Williams, the first African American to
graduate from a college in the Western Hemisphere, publishes a collection of Latin poems.
1818 - For unknown reasons, Daniel Coker is expelled from the AME Church. Coker had
been a key organizer in the church's early history and was elected its first bishop, a
position he declined possibly because of his fair complexion.
1947 - Jackie Robinson bunts safely for his 1st major league hit.
1978 - Thomas W. Turner, founder of the Federation of Colored Catholics, civil rights
pioneer and charter member of the NAACP, joins the ancestors in Washington, DC, at the age
1980 - Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, gains its independence. Reggae stars
Bob Marley and the Wailers and others perform in the celebration festivities. Robert
Mugabe will be sworn in the following day as prime minister of the newly formed nation.
1987 - Julius Erving becomes the 3rd NBA player to score 30,000 points.
1990 - Reverend Ralph Abernathy, civil rights activist, joins the ancestors at the age of
64 in Atlanta, Georgia.
1991 - African American and African leaders meet in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in the first
Summit Meeting of Africans and African Americans. The summit, organized by the
Reverend Leon H. Sullivan, calls for closer ties between Africans and African Americans
and urges Western governments to cancel Africa's foreign debt. "Hold on,
Africa!" the Rev. Sullivan says in his keynote speech. "We are coming!
Home of our heritage, land of our past, we can help. We have 2 million college
graduates in America. We earn $300 billion a year. Three centuries ago they
took us away in a boat, but today we have come back in an airplane."
1993 - A federal jury in Los Angeles convicts two former police officers of violating the
civil rights of beaten motorist Rodney King. Two other officers are acquitted.
- 1818 - Andrew Jackson defeats a force of Indians and
African Americans at the Battle of Suwanee, ending the First Seminole War.
1861 - Nicholas Biddle becomes the first African American in uniform to be wounded in the
1864 - The First Kansas Colored Volunteers break through Confederate lines at Poison
Spring, Arkansas. The unit will sustain heavy losses when captured African American
soldiers are murdered by Confederate troops as opposed to being taken as POWs, which is
the standard treatment for captured whites.
1877 - The American Nicodemus Town Company is founded by six African American settlers in
northwestern Kansas. The town will be settled later in the year.
1924 - Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown is born in Vinton, Louisiana. He will become a
blues musician and will be inspired by the sounds of T-Bone Walker, Count Basie and Duke
Ellington. He will become a Grammy winner and be nominated six times. He
will be unrivaled in his ability to seamlessly combine blues, country, soul and jazzy
Rhythm & Blues. He will be best known for his hits, "Okie Dokie
Stomp," "Boogie Rambler," "Just Before Dawn," "Dirty Work At
The Crossroads," and "Gatemouth Boogie."
1941 - Bus companies in New York City agree to hire African American drivers and
mechanics. This agreement ends a four-week boycott.
1941 - Dr. Robert Weaver is named director of Office of Production Management section,
charged with integrating African Americans into the National Defense Program.
1955 - The Bandung Conference of leaders of "colored" nations of Africa and Asia
opens in Indonesia. Hosted by Indonesian President Sukarno, the conference is
attended by representatives of 29 African and Asian countries. Its main objective
was to express their opposition to the colonialist and imperialist policies of First World
1961 - James Benton Parsons is the first African American judge of a U.S. district court
in the continental United States. Chicago attorney Parsons is appointed judge of the
U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois.
1983 - Alice Walker is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for "The Color Purple." Ten
days later, the novel will also win the American Book Award for fiction.
- With the assistance of African American soldiers, Minutemen defeat the British at
Concord Bridge in the initial battle of the Revolutionary War.
1837 - Cheyney University is founded as the first historically Black institution of higher
learning in America. It is also the first college in the United States to receive
official state certification as an institution of higher academic education for African
Americans. Cheyney will begin its existence in Philadelphia as the Institute for
Colored Youth. The Institute for Colored Youth successfully will provide a free classical
education for qualified young people. In 1902, the school will be moved to George
Cheyney's farm, 24 miles west of Philadelphia. In 1913 the name will be changed to Cheyney
Training School for Teachers; in 1921 to the Normal School at Cheyney; in 1951 Cheyney
State Teachers College; and in 1959, Cheyney State College. In 1983, Cheyney joined
the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
1866 - The African American citizens of Washington DC celebrate the abolition of slavery.
4,000 to 5,000 people assemble at the White House and are addressed by President Andrew
Johnson. Led by two African American regiments, the spectators and the procession
proceed up the Pennsylvania Avenue to Franklin Square for religious services and speeches
by prominent politicians. The sign on top of the platform reads: "We have received
our civil rights. Give us the right of suffrage and the work is done."
1942 - Atlanta University's first exhibition of African American art is held.
Organized by Hale Woodruff, artist and former professor at the university, it will be
popularly known as the Atlanta Annual. Winners in the first show will be Charles
Alston and Lois Mailou Jones.
1960 - Maj. General Frederic E. Davidson assumes command of the Eighth Infantry Division
in Germany and becomes the first African American to lead an army division.
1960 - A National Education Association study reveals that African Americans had lost
thirty thousand teaching jobs since 1954 in seventeen Southern and Border states because
of discrimination and desegregation.
1960 - The home of Z. Alexander Looby, counsel for 153 students arrested in sit-in
demonstrations, is destroyed by a dynamite bomb. More than two thousand students
march on the Nashville City Hall in protest.
1971 - Walter Fauntroy takes office as the first elected Congressional representative from
the District of Columbia since Reconstruction.
1975 - James B. Parsons becomes the first African American chief judge of a federal court,
the U.S. District Court in Chicago. In 1961, Parsons became the first African
American district court judge.
1982 - Astronaut Guion S. Bluford Jr. becomes the first African American to be selected
for U.S. space missions. He will not, however be the first person of African
descent in space. That honor belongs to Cuban cosmonaut, Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez, who
went into space on a Russian mission September 18, 1980 (Soyuz 38).
1994 - A Los Angeles jury awards $3.8 million to African American motorist Rodney King in
compensation/damages for the beating he received at the hands of four Los Angeles
1999 - Joseph Chebet of Kenya wins the Boston Marathon, in 2:9:52; Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia
wins the women's race in 2:23:25.
- 1853 - Harriet Tubman starts the Underground Railroad.
1871 - Third Enforcement Act defines Klan conspiracy as a rebellion against the United
States and empowers the president to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and declare martial
law in rebellious areas.
1877 - Federal troops are withdrawn from public buildings in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Democrats then take over the state government.
1908 - Lionel Hampton is born in Louisville, Kentucky. He will become trained as a
drummer and starts his musical career on this instrument. In 1930, while in a
recording session with Louis Armstrong, He will become fall in love with the sound of a
vibraphone that was used only to play the famous NBC bing-bang-bong station
identification. This will lead to Armstrong asking Hampton to add the instrument to
the score they were about to record. "Memories of You", the song
premiering Hampton on the vibraphone, will become a classic. He will go on to become
the best-known jazz master of the vibraphone.
1920 - Mary J. Reynolds invents a hoisting/loading mechanism.
1926 - Harriet Elizabeth Byrd is born in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She will become a
teacher and, in 1981, the first African American legislator in Wyoming's state history.
1951 - Luther Vandross is born in New York City. An early backup singer and
commercial jingle writer, his big break as a solo artist will come in 1981 when his album
"Never Too Much" will reveal his talents to both R & B and pop
audiences. He will make a string of hit albums, earning seven consecutive platinum
and double-platinum albums and achieve his greatest crossover success with the albums
"The Best of Luther Vandross" and "Power of Love," which will earn him
three Grammy awards.
1964 - Cleveland school officials report that 86 per cent of the African American students
in the school system participated in one-day boycott.
1965 - President Lyndon Johnson awards the Medal of Freedom to Leontyne Price, for
"Her singing has brought light to her land."
1969 - James Earl Jones wins a Tony for his portrayal of controversial heavyweight
champion Jack Johnson in "The Great White Hope."
1971 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that busing is a constitutionally
acceptable method of integrating public schools.
- 1878 - The ship Azor leaves Charleston, South Carolina,
on its first trip, carrying 209 African Americans bound for Liberia.
1892 - African American Longshoremen strike for higher wages in St. Louis, Missouri.
1900 - Dumarsais Estime' is born in Verrettes, Artibonite, Haiti. He will become president
of Haiti in 1946 and will be regarded as a progressive leader and statesman. He will
join the ancestors in New York City in 1953.
1938 - The Harlem Suitcase Theatre opens with Langston Hughes's play "Don't You Want
to be Free?" The play's star is a young Robert Earl Jones, father of James Earl
1940 - Souleymane Cisse' is born in Bamako, Mali. He will become a filmmaker,
graduating from the State Institute of Cinema in Moscow in 1969. He will become one
of the most popular filmmakers in Africa.
1966 - Milton Olive, Jr. becomes the first African American to win the Congressional Medal
of Honor for bravery during the Vietnam War. He will be honored for saving the lives
of his fellow soldiers by falling on a live grenade while participating in a
search-and-destroy mission near Phu Coung.
1965 - Pedro Albizu Campos joins the ancestors at the age of 71 in San Juan, Puerto
Rico. Campos was a Puerto Rican of African descent who advocated Puerto Rico's
independence and condemned United States imperialism and the 1898 invasion and occupation
of Puerto Rico. Some Puerto Ricans refer to him as "Don Pedro," and one of
the fathers of Puerto Rican national identity.
1966 - His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie visits Kingston, Jamaica.
1971 - Francois Duvalier, known as "Papa Doc," joins the ancestors in
Port-au-Prince, Haiti at the age of 64. He had been president-for-life of Haiti
from 1957 to 1971. He will be succeeded in power by his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier.
1974 - By winning the Monsanto Open in Pensacola, Florida, Lee Elder becomes the first
African American professional golfer to qualify for the Masters Tournament. It will be one
of four PGA tour victories for the Dallas, Texas, native, including the Houston Open in
1976 and the Greater Milwaukee Open and Westchester Classic in 1978. Elder's career
earnings of $2million will place him among the top three African American golfers, along
with Calvin Peete ($2.3 million and 12 PGA tournament victories) and Charlie Sifford ($1
- 1526 - The first recorded slave revolt occurs in a
settlement of some five hundred Spaniards and one hundred slaves, located on the Pedee
River in what is now South Carolina.
1882 - Benjamin Brawley is born in Benedict, South Carolina. He will become a
prolific author and educator, serving as a professor of English at Morehouse, Howard, and
Shaw universities. He will also serve as dean of Morehouse. His books, among
them "A Short History of the American Negro" and "A New Survey of English
Literature," will be landmark texts recommended at several colleges.
1922 - Charles Mingus is born in Nogales, Arizona. Raised in Watts, California, he
will play double bass with Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, and Bud Powell before becoming
a bandleader and composer in his own right. Although not as popular as Miles Davis
or Ellington, Mingus, who also will play piano, will be considered one of the principal
forces in modern jazz.
1950 - Charles Hamilton Houston, architect of the NAACP legal campaign, joins the
ancestors in Washington, DC at the age of 54.
1964 - A Trinity College student occupies the school administration building to protest
1964 - New York police arrest 294 civil rights demonstrators at the opening of the World
1970 - Yale University students protest in support of the Black Panthers.
1981 - The Joint Center for Political Studies reports that 2991 African Americans held
elective offices in 45 states and the District of Columbia, compared with 2621 in April,
1973, and 1185 in 1969. The Center reports 108 African American mayors.
Michigan had the largest number of African American elected officials (194), followed by
1981 - Brailsford Reese Brazeal, economist and former dean of Morehouse College, joins the
ancestors in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 76.
1989 - Huey Newton, black activist and co-founder of the Black Panther Party, joins the
ancestors, after being killed at age 47.
2000 - The Rev. R.F. Jenkins, a pastor active in civil-rights organizations, who led his
church for 25 years, joins the ancestors in Omaha, Nebraska, after suffering a heart
attack at the age of 87. He was the first African American Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
minister in the Nebraska district. He and his wife, Beatrice, had come to Omaha in 1954
after serving pastorates in Alabama and North Carolina. He had also previously served
eight years as a faculty member at Alabama Lutheran College. He had returned to his
hometown of Selma, Alabama, to take part in a civil-rights march in 1965. He served on the
Omaha School District board from 1970 to 1976, and retired from the pulpit in 1979.
- 1856 - Granville T. Woods, who will become an inventor of
steam boilers, furnaces, incubators and auto air brakes and holder of over 50 patents, is
born in Columbus, Ohio.
1872 - Charlotte E. Ray becomes the first African American woman lawyer in ceremonies held
in Washington, DC admitting her to practice before the bar. She had received her law
degree from Howard University on February 27.
1894 - Jimmy Noone is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will become a jazz
clarinetist and a major influence on the swing music of the 1930's and 1940's. He will be
a band leader and be best known as the leader of "Jimmy Noone's Apex Club
Orchestra." Two of the people most influenced by Jimmy Noone's style will be Benny
Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey. He will join the ancestors after suffering a fatal heart
attack, while performing with "Kid" Ory on April 19, 1944.
1895 - Jorge Mateus Vicente Lima is born in Alagoas, Brazil. He will become a poet,
novelist, essayist, painter, doctor, and politician. He will become best known as a
writer, manipulating Brazilian subjects, at the same time analyzing Afro-Brazilian culture
and heritage. He will become a fixture in the Brazilian experience during the 1920's. Even
though he became a physician, he will exhibit his talents as a writer in writings from his
youth. His most famous writing will be a poem, "Essa Nega Fulo" (That
Black Girl Fulo), written in 1928. The poem will explore the dynamics between a
slave master, the slave and her mistress. He will join the ancestors in 1953 in Rio de
1898 - Alfredo da Rocha Viana Jr. is born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He will become a
composer and bandleader best known as "Pixinguinha." By the time he was a
teenager, he will be respected for his talent as a flutist. After traveling with his first
band to France in 1922, he will open the door of Brazilian music to the world. He will be
credited with assisting to invent the "samba." He is generally referred to as
the King of Samba and the Father of Musica Popular Brasileira. He will join the ancestors
on February 17, 1973 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
1913 - The National Urban League is incorporated in New York City. The organization is
founded in 1910 when the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes met in New York to
discuss means to assist rural African Americans in the transition to urban life.
Founders include Mrs. Ruth Standish Baldwin and Dr. George Edmund Haynes, who becomes the
league's first executive director.
1941 - New Yorkers are treated to a performance of Cafi Society at Carnegie Hall by a
group of jazz artists that includes Albert "Jug" Ammons, Hazel Scott, and Art
Tatum. It also marks the first performance of Helena (later Lena) Horne, who sings
"Summertime," among other songs.
1944 - The NAACP Youth Council and Committee for Unity in Motion Pictures selects its
first Motion Picture Award recipients. Given to honor actors whose roles advance the
image of African Americans in motion pictures, awards go to Rex Ingram for
"Sahara," Lena Horne for "As Thousands Cheer," Leigh Whipper for
"The Oxbow Incident" and "Mission to Moscow," Hazel Scott for her
debut in "Something to Shout About" and Dooley Wilson for his role as Sam in
"Casablanca," among others. The awards will be the fore-runner to the NAACP's
1948 - Charles Richard Johnson in born in Evanston, Illinois. He will become an
novelist, essayist and screenwriter. He will begin his career after graduating from
the State University of New York at Stonybrook with a Ph.D. in philosophy. He will
be mentored by W.E.B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Jean Toomer, Richard Wright and John
Gardner. He will be known for his works, "Middle Passage," "Oxherding
Tale," "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," and "Being and Race: Black Writing
Since 1970." He will win the 1990 National Book Award for "Middle Passage."
1954 - Hammerin' Hank Aaron, of the Milwaukee Braves, hits the first of what will be 755
career home runs, in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The score will be 7-5 in
favor of the Braves.
1955 - U.S. Supreme Court refuses to review a lower court decision which would ban
segregation in intrastate bus travel.
1964 - James Baldwin's play, "Blues for Mr. Charlie" opens on Broadway.
Starring Al Freeman, Jr., Diana Sands, and others, the play reveals the plight of African
Americans in the South.
1971 - Columbia University operations are virtually ended for the year by African American
and white students who seize five buildings on campus.
1971 - William Tubman, president of Liberia, joins the ancestors at the age of 76.
He had been president of Liberia since 1944.
1998 - James Earl Ray, who confessed to assassinating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in
1968 and then insisted he was framed, died at a Nashville hospital at age 70.
"The information for 24 April will be
posted at a later date"
- 1905 - Doxey Alphonso Wilkerson is born in Excelsior
Springs, Missouri. He will become an educator at Howard University in Washington, DC
and Yeshiva University in New York City. In 1944, he will publish an essay in the
anthology, "What The Negro Wants," which will illustrate comparisons between the
Allied struggle in Europe during World War II and the civil rights struggle of African
Americans in the United States. As a member of the American Communist Party, he will work
as a civil rights activist. This affiliation will cause him to be repeatedly
investigated by the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. After resigning
from the Communist Party in 1957, he will continue to be active in civil right activities
and educational pursuits until his retirement in 1984. He will join the ancestors on
June 17, 1993 in Norwalk, Connecticut.
1916 - Madeline M. Turner receives a patent for the fruit press.
1918 - Ella Fitzgerald is born in Newport News, Virginia. Discovered at an amateur
contest at the Apollo Theatre in 1934, Fitzgerald will be a leading jazz vocalist of the
swing era. Known for her renditions of such songs as "A Tisket, A Tasket"
(her first million-seller), her unique scat styling and series of recordings of great
American songwriters will make her an enduring favorite of jazz lovers. She will join the
ancestors on June 15, 1996 in Beverly Hills, California.
1942 - Ruby Doris Smith Robinson is born in Atlanta, Georgia. She will become a civil
rights activist and a founding member of The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
(SNCC). She will be one of the original "Freedom Riders," and will assist
in creating the policy of "jail, no bail," employed by activists to fill
southern jails and bring national attention to the civil rights struggle. After becoming
SNCC's first and only female executive secretary, she will become ill with leukemia and
joins the ancestors on October 7, 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia.
1944 - The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is founded by Dr. Frederick Douglass
Patterson, then president of Tuskegee Institute, with 27 charter colleges and universities
and a combined enrollment of 14,000 students.
1945 - The United Nations is founded at a San Francisco meeting attended by African
American consultants, most notably W.E.B. Du Bois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ralph J. Bunche
and Walter White.
1950 - At the NBA's annual players draft, the Boston Celtics select Charles
"Chuck" Cooper. He is the first African American ever drafted by an NBA
1960 - A consent judgment in a Memphis federal court ended restrictions barring voters in
Fayette County, Tennessee. This was the first voting rights case under the Civil
1972 - Major General Frederick E. Davidson becomes the first African American to lead an
Army division when he is assigned command of the 8th Infantry Division in Europe.
1979 - Olodum, an internationally recognized Afro-Brazilian Carnival association, is
founded in Bahia, Brazil. The music of this group celebrates Black history and
protests racial discrimination. The name Olodum is derived from the name of the supreme
Yoruba deity, Olodumare'.
1990 - Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon joins the ancestors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
A leading influence in the bop movement along with Billy Eckstine and Dizzy Gillespie,
Gordon played in London in the early 1960's and stayed until the mid-1970's.
Elected to the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1980, his role in the 1986 movie "'Round
Midnight" will revive interest in his music and earn him an Academy Award nomination
for best actor.
- 1785 - John James Audubon is born in Les Cayes, Saint
Dominique (later Haiti), to an African Caribbean mother and a French father. He will
display an early affinity for bird specimens and drawing in France, later emigrating to
the United States, where he will marry a plantation owner's daughter and paint the
ground-breaking collection "The Birds of America."
1798 - James Pierson Beckwourth is born in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He will become a
legendary American Western mountain man, trapper, warrior, Indian chief, and trailblazer.
He will maintain a lifelong friendship with the Crow Indian nation. He will
work as an Army scout during the third Seminole War and will be a rider for the Pony
Express. In 1850, he will discover a pass through the Sierra Nevada mountains that will
enable settlers to more easily reach California. The Beckwourth Pass is still in use today
by the Union Pacific Railroad and the U.S. Interstate Highway System. He will join the
ancestors in 1866.
1886 - William Levi Dawson is born in Albany, Georgia. A graduate of Fisk
University, he will move to Chicago, serve in the 365th Infantry in World War I, become an
attorney and initially be involved in Republican politics upon his return to the city
after the war. Elected to his first term in the United States Congress in 1942, he
will serve 27 years in the House, where he will become the first African American
representative to chair a committee of Congress, the Committee on Expenditures in
Executive Departments, in 1949.
1886 - Gertrude Pritchett is born in Columbus, Georgia. She will become a blues
singer and vaudeville performer. She will marry William "Pa" Rainey and
will become the "Ma" half of "Rainey and Rainey: The Assassinators of
the Blues." Between 1923 and 1928, she will record 93 songs, many of which were her
own compositions. She will perform nationwide and will have a loyal fan base, even
after her recording contract with Paramount is terminated. She will have a great
impact on performers who will follow her and will be immortalized by being included in
August Wilson's play, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," and the poem of Sterling
Brown, "Ma Rainey." She will join the ancestors on
December 22, 1939 and will be inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
1964 - The African nations of Tanganyika and Zanzibar merge to form Tanzania. The name is
derived from the first syllable of each country's name.
1968 - Students seize the administration building at Ohio State.
1984 - Jazz musician great William "Count" Basie, joins the ancestors in
Hollywood, Florida at the age of 77.
NOTE: Many sources will have 1904 for Count Basie's birth
year. The source quoted here for his birth and death is the Kennedy Center Archives
documenting "The Honors" bestowed on him in 1981.
1991 - Maryann Bishop Coffey is named the first woman and the first African American
co-chair of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
1992 - "Jelly's Last Jam" opens at Virginia theater on Broadway. Gregory
Hines will portray the great jazz composer Jelly Roll Morton and will receive a Tony award
as best actor in a musical in that role.
1994 - Voting begins in South Africa's first all-race elections.
- 1883 - Hubert Henry Harrison, is born in St. Croix,
Virgin Islands. He will become, by the 1920s, one of the nation's most prominent atheists.
Harrison will recognize the connection between racism and religion, and point this
out quite bluntly. The Bible was a slave master's book in Harrison's eyes, which not
only sanctioned the keeping of slaves, but even gave advice on their handling. He
will state that any African American person who accepts Christianity was either ignorant
or crazy. He also will address Islam by stating that the slave masters may have been
largely Christian, but many of the slave traders were Muslims, apparently not deterred by
1903 - The publication of W.E.B. DuBois's "The Souls of Black Folk" crystallizes
opposition to Booker T. Whington's program of social and political subordination.
1903 - Maggie L. Walker is named president of Richmond's St. Luke Penny Bank and Trust
Company and becomes the first woman to head a bank.
1903 - The U.S. Supreme Court upholds clauses in the Alabama state constitution which
disfranchises African Americans.
1927 - Coretta Scott is born in Marion, Alabama. She will marry Martin Luther King, Jr. in
1953 and be an integral part of his civil rights activities. After his assassination in
1968, she will continue her civil rights activities, founding the Martin Luther King, Jr.
Center for Nonviolent Change in Atlanta, Georgia.
1944 - Rhythm-and-blues singer Cuba Gooding is born.
1949 - Rhythm-and-blues singer Herbie Murrell (The Stylistics) is born.
1960 - Togo achieves its independence from France. Sylvanus Olymplo serves as its
first prime minister.
1961 - Sierra Leone obtains its independence from Great Britain with Dr. Milton Margai as
its first prime minister.
1961 - Kwame Nkrumah, African statesman and the first president of Ghana, joins the
ancestors in exile, in Conarky, Guinea at the age of 62.
1977 - Artist Charles Alston joins the ancestors in New York City. After studying at
Columbia University and Pratt Institute, he had traveled to Europe and the Caribbean
before executing murals for Harlem Hospital and Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company
in Los Angeles. A recipient of the National Academy of Design Award, he also
received the first-place award of the Atlanta University Collection's 1942 show for his
gouache "Farm Boy." His best known works are "Family" and
"Walking." Among his other notable works are "School Girl,"
"Frederick Douglass," and "Nobody Knows."
1994 - The first "Freedom Day" takes place in South Africa.
- Martin Morua Delgado joins the ancestors in Havana, Cuba. He had been a labor and
political activist, statesman, journalist and author. He had been a leading opponent of
slavery in Cuba and after emancipation, a leading proponent for racial equality. He also
was active in the struggle for Cuban independence from Spain. Cuba will celebrate
the centennial of his birth in 1956.
1911 - Mario Bauza is born in Havana, Cuba. He will become a professional trumpet
player, bandleader and arranger. He will be a leading player in the creation of Afro-Cuban
jazz. While in Cuba, he will be primarily a classical musician, playing for the Havana
Philharmonic Orchestra. He will leave Cuba for New York City in 1930 and find
himself working in mostly jazz venues. He will play with Noble Sissle, Chick Webb
(musical director), Don Redman, and Cab Calloway. While working with Chick Webb, he
will convince Webb to hire the young Ella Fitzgerald as a vocalist for the band. While
collaborating with these talents, he will integrate Afro-Latin influence into the music
whenever possible. He will be active in the jazz musical scene until the last year
of his life. He will join the ancestors on July 11, 1993.
1924 - Kenneth Kuanda is born in Lubwe, Northern Rhodesia (Northern Rhodesia will
eventually become the country of Zambia). He will become president of Zambia from its day
of independence until 1991. He will begin his political career with the Northern
Rhodesia African Congress, which will become the Africn National Congress. Like most
African politicians who called for independence from colonial rule, he will be imprisoned
multiple times. After his release from prison in 1960, he will continue to be active
and will promote many activities of civil disobedience. Under his leadership, the
colonial administration will relent and the British will grant Zambia its independence on
October 24, 1964.
1934 - Charles Patton joins the ancestors in Indianola, Mississippi. He was a bluesman who
is considered to be the creator of the Delta variation of the blues. His recordings
between 1929 and 1934 will contribute to the national influence of the Mississippi Delta
style on the blues.
1935 - Akin Euba is born in Lagos, Nigeria. He will become a classical composer
whose work will integrate European and Yoruba influences into his compositions. His
music will be introduced to the world at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.
After receiving his Ph.D. in 1974, he will become a music educator and continue to create
his unique African musical art form. He will eventually become a professor of
African music at the University of Pittsburgh.
1941 - In a famous Jim Crow railroad case brought by congressman Arthur W. Mitchell, the
Supreme Court rules that separate facilities must be substantially equal.
1950 - Willie Colon in born in the Bronx in New York City. He will begin his musical
career, while a teenager, creating recordings that will emphasize his Afro-Puerto Rican
heritage in the form of salsa music. His music will integrate the influence of
Puerto Rican life in New York City with the African influence on the Puerto Rican
experience. He will create and produce over thirty recordings and be nominated for
at least five Grammy awards in Latin music.
1957 - W. Robert Ming, a Chicago lawyer, is elected chairman of the American Veterans
Committee. He is the first African American to head a major national veterans
1967 - Muhammad Ali refuses induction into the U.S. Army and is stripped of his boxing
titles by the World Boxing Association and the New York Athletic Association.
1983 - Two African American women, Alice Walker and Gloria Naylor, win prestigious
American Book Awards for fiction. Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple"
will be dramatized as a theatrical movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah
Winfrey. Naylor's first novel, "The Women of Brewster Place," will be made
into a made-for-television movie and series starring Oprah Winfrey, Jackee', and Paula
1990 - Clifton Reginald Wharton, Sr. joins the ancestors in Phoenix, Arizona. He was
an attorney and was the first African American to enter the U.S. Foreign Service and the
first African American to become a United States Ambassador to a European country
1991 - Former CORE director and North Carolina judge Floyd Bixley McKissick joins the
ancestors in North Carolina at the age of 69. He led CORE from 1963 to 1966 during
its transformation to a more militant civil rights organization.
1997 - Ann Lane Petry joins the ancestors in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. She was a
leading African American novelist and was known for her works, "The Street,"
"Country Place," "The Narrows," "Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the
Underground Railroad," "Tituba of Salem Village," "The Drugstore
Cat," and "Legends of the Saints."
- 1854 - Ashmun lnstitute, later Lincoln University, is
founded in Oxford, Pennsylvania. It will be "the first institution founded
anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for youth of
African descent." (This applies to the modern era).
1881 - Julian Francis Abele is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will become an
architect widely believed to have designed Philadelphia's Museum of Art and the Free
Library, as well as major buildings on the Duke University campus.
1899 - Edward "Duke" Kennedy Ellington is born in Washington, DC. He will
form his first band in 1919, and move to New York City in 1922. His five-year tenure at
the famed Cotton Club will garner him wide acclaim. Scoring both his first musical
and making his recording debut in 1924, Ellington will be known as the first conventional
jazz composer, although he will also become renowned for his Sacred Concerts in the
mid-1960's. His most notable works include "Take the A Train," "Mood
Indigo," "Sophisticated Ladies," and "I Got It Bad and That Ain't
1915 - Donald Mills is born in Piqua, Ohio. With his brothers, he will be a member
of the singing group, The Mills Brothers.
1922 - Parren James Mitchell is born in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1971, he will become the
first African American elected to Congress from the State of Maryland.
1928 - Carl Gardner is born. He will become a singer and a member of the 1960's
rhythm and blues group, The Coasters.
1934 - Otis Rush is born in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He will become a blues
musician and will help to shape Chicago's West Side blues sound.
1948 - Willi Smith is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A noted designer, he will
take his first job with Arnold Scaasi in New York City and form his own fashion label,
Willi Wear Ltd., in 1976. He will be a Coty Award winner in 1983 and will lead his
company until he joins the ancestors in 1987.
1967 - Mrs. Robert W. Clayton is elected president of the YWCA, the first African American
president of the organization.
1983 - Harold Washington is sworn in as the first African American mayor of Chicago.
1992 - Rioting erupts in Los Angeles after a jury acquits four white policemen of charges
related to the videotaped beating of African American motorist Rodney King. The
National Guard and federal troops are mobilized to deal with the rebellion, which will
last several days and cost the lives of 58 persons. There are demonstrations and
riots in other American cities.
- 1864 - A regiment captures a rebel battery after fighting
rearguard action. Six infantry regiments check rebel troops at Jenkins' Ferry,
Saline River, Arkansas. The troops are so enraged by atrocities committed at Poison Spring
two weeks earlier, that the Second Kansas Colored Volunteers went into battle shouting,
"Remember Poison Spring!"
1931 - William Lacy Clay is born in St. Louis, Missouri. He will become a
congressman from Missouri and chairman of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee.
1940 - Jesse E. Moorland joins the ancestors in Washington, DC. He was a clergyman,
key force in fund-raising for African American YMCAs, alumnus and trustee of Howard
University. The donation of his substantial private library to Howard forms the basis of
the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center on the university's campus.
1961 - lsiah Lord Thomas is born in Chicago, Illinois. One of nine children raised
by a single mother, Thomas will become a basketball star, first for Indiana University and
later for the Detroit Pistons, where he will lead the team to 1989 and 1990 NBA
1983 - Robert C. Maynard becomes the first African American to gain a controlling interest
in a major metropolitan newspaper when he buys the Oakland Tribune from Gannett.
1994 - The counting of ballots begins in South Africa's first all-race elections.
1994 - Some 100,000 men, women and children fleeing ethnic slaughter in Rwanda cross into
Updated by K. Ferguson
Kelly: March 16, 2002