01 -15 December in Black History
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- 1641 - Massachusetts becomes the first colony to give statutory recognition to the
institution of slavery.
1821 - Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) proclaims independence from Spain.
1873 - The 43rd Congress (1873-75) convenes with seven African American congressmen:
Richard H. Cain, Robert Brown Elliott, Joseph H. Rainey and Alonzo J. Ransier, South
Carolina; James T. Rapier, Alabama; Josiah T. Walls, Florida; John R. Lynch, Mississippi.
1873 - Mifflin Wister Gibb is elected city judge in Little Rock, Arkansas and becomes the
first African American to hold such a position.
1873 - Bennett College (Greensboro, North Carolina) and Wiley College (Marshall, Texas)
1874 - Queen Esther Chapter No. 1, Order of the Eastern Star, is established at 708 O
Street, N.W., Washington, DC in the home of Mrs. Georgiana Thomas. The first Worthy
Matron is Sister Martha Welch and the first Worthy Patron is Bro. Thornton A.
Jackson. This establishes the first Eastern Star Chapter among African American
women in the United States.
1877 - Jonathan Jasper Wright, the first African American state supreme court justice,
resigns from the state supreme court in South Carolina. He resigns knowing that
whites would soon force him off the bench after overthrowing the Reconstruction
government. He will later join the ancestors, in obscurity, of tuberculosis.
1892 - Minnie Evans, visual artist and painter, is born. One of her more famous works will
be "Lion of Judah." She will be inducted into the Wilmington, NC
"Walk of Fame."
1934 - Billy Paul, rhythm and blues singer, best known for his song, "Me and Mrs.
Jones", is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1935 - Lou Rawls is born in Chicago, Illinois. A successful rhythm, blues, and jazz
singer, he will record over 30 albums including "Unmistakably Lou", a 1977
Grammy winner for best R & B vocal performance. He will also be a strong
supporter of African American colleges, as host of the annual UNCF telethon.
1940 - Richard Franklin Lennox Pryor III is born in Peoria, Illinois. Raised in a
brothel owned by his grandmother, Pryor will try music as a drummer before his big comedy
break on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and a series of successful, Grammy-winning
comedy albums. Pryor will also make movies, most notably "Stir Crazy" and
"Silver Streak". Pryor will also battle drug abuse and illness in his
career, including his near death from burns inflicted while freebasing cocaine and a
battle against multiple sclerosis.
1955 - Rosa Parks, a seamstress, refuses to take a back seat on a Montgomery, Alabama
bus. Her refusal to move will result in her arrest and will begin a 382-day boycott
of the bus system by African Americans and mark the beginning of the modern American Civil
1958 - The Central African Republic is made an autonomous member of the French
Commonwealth of Nations.
1980 - George Rogers, of the University of South Carolina, is named the Heisman Trophy
winner. Rogers will go on to achieve success with the Washington Redskins.
1980 - United States Justice Department sues the city of Yonkers, New York, citing racial
1981 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar surpasses Oscar Robertson as basketball's second all-time
leading scorer (second only to Wilt Chamberlain). Kareem gets to the total of 26,712
points as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 117-86. Chamberlain's record
will fall in 1984, when Kareem's scores reach 31,259. Kareem will wind up his career
in 1989 with 38,387 points.
1982 - Michael Jackson's album "Thriller" is released and will go on to become
the best-selling album in history, with over 40 million copies sold worldwide.
1987 - James Baldwin, author, joins the ancestors in St. Paul de Vence, France, of stomach
cancer, at the age of 63. He explored the plight of oppressed African Americans in
20th century America in a variety of literary forms. His output included novels and
plays, but it was above all, as an essayist, that he achieved a reputation as the most
literary spokesman in the struggle for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. His
three most important collection of essays were "Notes of a Native Son" in 1955,
"Nobody Knows My Name" in 1961, and "The Fire Next Time" in
1963. The most highly regarded of his novels were the first three, "Go Tell It
on the Mountain" in 1953, "Giovanni's Room" in 1956, and "Another
Country" in 1962.
1989 - Dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey joins the ancestors in New York City. Ailey
began his professional career with Lester Horton, founded, and was the sole director of
the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. Initially performing four concerts
annually, he took the company to Europe on one of the most successful tours ever by an
American dance troupe. Among his honors were the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in 1977, and
Kennedy Center Honors.
1992 - Pearl Stewart becomes the first African American woman editor of the Oakland
Tribune, which has a circulation of over 100,000.
- 1859 - John Brown, abolitionist who planned the failed attack on the Federal Arsenal at
Harpers Ferry, is hanged at Charles Town, West Virginia.
1866 - Harry T. Burleigh, singer and composer, is born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He
will be educated at the National Conservatory
of Music in New York City, where he will meet and form a lasting friendship with Anton
Dvorak. He will eventually be awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal. Burleigh
will be best known for his arrangements of the Negro spiritual "Deep River".
1884 - Granville T. Woods receives a patent for his first electric device, an improved
1891 - North Carolina A&T College, Delaware State College and West Virginia State
College are established.
1891 - The Fifty-second Congress convenes. Only one African American congressman has been
elected - Henry P. Cheatham of North Carolina.
1891 - Charles Harris Wesley, historian, educator, and administrator, is born. His
published works include, "Neglected History," "Collapse of the
Confederacy," "Negro Labor in the United States,"and "1850-1925: A
Study of American Economic History."
1908 - John Baxter "Doc" Taylor joins the ancestors as a result of of typhoid
pneumonia at the age of 26. Taylor had been a record-setting quarter miler and the
first African American Olympic gold medal winner in the 4 x 400-meter medley in the 1908
1912 - Henry Armstrong is born in Columbus, Mississippi, Better known as
"Hammering Hank," Armstrong will become the only man to hold three boxing titles
at once in the featherweight, welterweight, and lightweight divisions.
1922 - Congressman, Charles C. Diggs is born.
1923 - Roland Hayes becomes the first African American to sing in the Symphony Hall in
1940 - Willie Brown, NFL defensive back for the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders, is
1943 - "Carmen Jones," a contemporary reworking of the Bizet opera
"Carmen" by Oscar Hammerstein II with an all-black cast, opens on Broadway.
1953 - Dr. Rufus Clement, president of Atlanta University, is elected to the Atlanta Board
1975 - Ohio State running back Archie Griffin becomes the first person ever to win the
Heisman Trophy twice, when he is awarded his second trophy in New York City. He
amassed a career record of 5,176 yards and 31 consecutive 100 yard plus games.
1989 - Andre Ware of the University of Houston, becomes the first African American
quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy.
1992 - Dr. Maya Angelou is asked to compose a poem for William Jefferson Clinton's
- 1841 - Abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond returns to the United States after a year and a
half in Great Britain. He had been serving as a delegate to the world Anti-Slavery
Convention in London. He brings with him an "Address from the People of
Ireland" including 60,000 signatures urging Irish-Americans to "oppose slavery
by peaceful means and to insist upon liberty for all regardless of color, creed, or
1843 - The Society of Colored People in Baltimore, is the first African American Catholic
association whose documentation has been preserved. Their notebook will begin today and
continue until September 7, 1845.
1847 - Frederick Douglass and Martin R. Delaney begin the publication of "The North
Star" newspaper, one of the leading abolitionist newspapers of its day.
1864 - The Twenty-Fifth Corps, the largest all African American unit in the history of the
U.S. Army, is established by General Order # 297 of the War Department, Adjutant General's
Office. The Colored Troops of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina were
organized into the Twenty-Fifth Corps under the command of Major General G. Weitzel.
1866 - John Swett Rock, a Massachusetts lawyer and dentist joins the ancestors. He
had become the first African American certified to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase appointed Dr. Rock to present cases before the
Supreme Court on December 31, 1865.
1868 - The trial of ex-Confederacy president, Jefferson Davis starts, marking the first
United States trial with African Americans included in the jury.
1883 - The Forty-Eighth Congress (1883-85) convenes. Only Two African Americans are
included as representatives. They are James E. O'Hara of North Carolina and Robert Smalls
of South Carolina.
1883 - George L. Ruffin is appointed a city judge in Boston, Massachusetts.
1922 - Ralph Gardner is born in Cleveland, Ohio. He will become a pioneer chemist
whose research into plastics leads to the development of so-called "hard
plastics." His innovations in the manipulation of catalytic chemicals will lead
to the products for the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries as well as plastics.
1951 - President Truman names a committee to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination
provisions in U.S. government contracts and sub-contracts.
1956 - Wilt Chamberlain plays in his first collegiate basketball game and scores 52
1962 - Edith Spurlock Sampson is sworn in as the first African American woman judge.
1964 - The Spingarn Medal is presented to NAACP executive secretary Roy Wilkins for his
contribution to "the advancement of the American people and the national
1964 - The Independence Bank of Chicago is organized.
1964 - J. Raymond Jones is elected leader of the New York Democratic organization (Tammany
1970 - Jennifer Josephine Hosten become the first African American Miss World.
1979 - An University of Southern California running back, Charles White, is named the
Heisman Trophy winner for 1979. White, who gained a career regular season total of
5,598 yards, will play professionally for the Los Angeles Rams.
1982 - Thomas Hearns unifies the world boxing titles in the junior middleweight division
by capturing the WBC title over Wilfredo Benitez.
1988 - Barry Sanders wins the Heisman Trophy.
1988 - In South Africa, 11 black funeral mourners are slain in Natal Province in an attack
blamed on security forces.
1990 - "Black Art - Ancestral Legacy: The African Impulse in African American
Art" opens at the Dallas Museum of Art. United States and Caribbean artists
represented among the more than 150 works include Richmond Barthe', John Biggers, Aaron
Douglas, Malvin Gray Johnson, Sargent Johnson, and Houston Conwill.
1997 - President Clinton hosts his first town hall meeting on America's race relations in
- 1783 - George Washington's farewell address to his troops is held at Fraunces Tavern in
New York City. The tavern is owned by Samuel "Black Sam" Fraunces, a
wealthy West Indian of African and French descent who aided Revolutionary forces with food
1807 - Prince Hall, activist and Masonic leader, joins the ancestors in Boston,
1833 - The American Anti-Slavery Society is founded in Philadelphia by James Barbados,
Robert Purvis, James McCrummell, James Forten, Jr., John B. Vashon and others.
1895 - Fort Valley State College is established in Georgia.
1895 - The South Carolina Constitutional Convention adopted a new constitution with
"understanding clause" designed to eliminate African American voters.
1899 - The Fifty-Sixth Congress convenes with only one African American congressman,
George H. White, from North Carolina.
1906 - Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is founded on the campus of Cornell University in
Ithaca, New York, becoming the first African American Greek-letter organization.
1909 - The New York "Amsterdam News" is founded by James Anderson.
Originally priced at two cents, it will grow to a circulation of almost 35,000 by
1915 - The NAACP leads protest demonstrations against the showing of the racist movie,
"Birth of a Nation."
1915 - The Ku Klux Klan receives its charter from Fulton County, Georgia Superior Court.
The modern Klan will spread to Alabama and other Southern states and reach the height of
its influence in the twenties. By 1924, the organization will be strong in Oklahoma,
Indiana, California, Oregon, Indiana, and Ohio, and have an estimated four million
1927 - President Coolidge commutes Marcus Garvey's sentence. Garvey will be taken to New
Orleans and deported to his native Jamaica.
1927 - The NAACP's Spingarn Medal is awarded to Anthony Overton, publisher, insurance
executive and cosmetics manufacturer, for his achievements as a businessman.
1927 - Duke Ellington's big band opens at the famed Cotton Club in Harlem. It is the
first appearance of the Duke's new and larger group. He will play the club until
1943 - Professional baseball's commissioner Landis announces that any club may sign
Negroes to a playing contract.
1956 - Bernard King, professional basketball player (New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets), is
1958 - Dahomey (Benin), and the Ivory Coast become autonomous within the French Community
1969 - The Pulitzer Prize for photography is awarded to Moneta Sleet Jr. of Ebony
magazine. He is the first African American male cited by the Pulitzer committee.
1969 - Clarence Mitchell Jr., director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP, is awarded
the Spingarn Medal "for the pivotal role he....played in the enactment of civil
1969 - Two Black Panther leaders, Fred Hampton(Illinois State Chairman) and Mark Clark,
join the ancestors after being killed in a Chicago police raid. The two men are shot
while sleeping in their beds. Fred Hampton is just 20 years old.
1977 - Jean-Bedel Bokassa, ruler of the Central African Empire, crowns himself.
1981 - According to South Africa, Ciskei gains independence, but is not recognized as an
independent country outside South Africa.
1982 - Hershel Walker, a University of Georgia running back who amassed an NCAA record of
5,097 yards in three seasons, is named the Heisman Trophy winner. He is only the
seventh junior to win the award. He will go on to play with the New Jersey Generals
of the U.S. Football League as well as in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas
1990 - The Watts Health Foundation reports revenues in excess of $100 million for the
first year in its history. Established in 1967, the Foundation grew from its initial site
on riot-torn 103rd Street to serve over 80,000 residents of the Greater Los Angeles area
with its HMO, United Health Plan, and its numerous community-based programs. Led by
CEO Dr. Clyde Oden, it is the largest community-based health care system of its kind in
1992 - United States troops land in the country of Somalia.
- 1784 - African American poet Phyllis Wheatley joins the ancestors in Boston at the age
of 31. Born in Africa and brought to the American Colonies at the age of eight in
1761, Wheatley was quick to learn both English and Latin. Her first poem was
published in 1770 and she continued to write poems and eulogies. A 1773 trip to
England secured her success there, where she was introduced to English society. Her
book, "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral", was published late that
year. Married for six years to John Peters, Wheatley and her infant daughter died
hours apart in a Boston boarding house, where she worked.
1832 - Sarah Gorham, the first woman appointed by the African Methodist Episcopal Church
to serve as a foreign missionary in 1881, is born.
1881 - The Forty-Seventh Congress (1881-83) convenes. Only two African American
congressmen have been elected, Robert Smalls of South Carolina and John Roy Lynch of
1895 - Elbert Frank Cox is born in Evansville, Indiana. He will become the first
African American to earn a doctorate degree in mathematics (Cornell University - 1925).
1918 - Charity Adams (later Earley) is born. She will become the first African
American commissioned officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942. She served in
the Army for four years and held the rank of Lt. Colonel at the time of her release from
1931 - James Cleveland is born in Chicago, Illinois. He will sing his first gospel
solo at the age of eight in a choir directed by famed gospel pioneer Thomas Dorsey.
He will later sing with Mahalia Jackson, The Caravans, and other groups before forming his
own group, The Gospel Chimes, in 1959. His recording of "Peace Be Still"
with the James Cleveland Singers and the 300-voice Angelic Choir of Nutley, New Jersey,
will earn him the title "King of Gospel."
1932 - ("Little") Richard Penniman is born in Macon, Georgia. He will be
known for his flamboyant singing style, which will be influential to many Rhythm and Blues
and British artists.' His songs will include "Good Golly Miss Molly",
"Tutti Frutti", and "Lucille."
1935 - The National Council of Negro Women is established by Mary McLeod Bethune.
1935 - Langston Hughes's play, "The Mulatto", begins a long run on Broadway.
1935 - Mary McLeod Bethune is awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for her work as
founder-president of Bethune Cookman College and her national leadership.
1946 - The NAACP's Spingarn Medal is awarded to Thurgood Marshall, director of the NAACP
Legal Defense and Educational Fund, "for his distinguished service as a lawyer before
the Supreme Court."
1946 - President Truman created The Committee on Civil Rights by Executive Order No. 9808.
Sadie M. Alexander and Channing H. Tobias were two African Americans who will serve as
members of the committee.
1947 - Jersey Joe Wolcott defeats Joe Louis for the heavyweight boxing title. It is
also the first time a heavyweight championship boxing match is televised.
1949 - Ezzard Charles defeats Jersey Joe Walcott for the heavyweight boxing title.
1955 - The Montgomery bus boycott begins as a result of Rosa Parks' refusal to ride in the
back of a city bus four days earlier. At a mass meeting at the Holt Street Baptist Church,
Martin Luther King Jr. is elected president of the boycott organization. The boycott will
last a little over a year and be the initial victory in the civil rights struggle of
African Americans in the United States.
1955 - Asa Philip Randolph and Willard S. Townsend are elected vice-presidents of the
1955 - Carl Murphy, publisher of the Baltimore Afro-American, is awarded the NAACP's
Spingarn Medal for his contributions as a publisher and civil rights leader.
1957 - New York City becomes the first city to legislate against racial or religious
discrimination in housing market (Fair Housing Practices Law).
1957 - Martin Luther King Jr. is awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for his leadership of
the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
1981 - Marcus Allen, tailback for the University of Southern California, wins the Heisman
Trophy. Six years later, Tim Brown of the Notre Dame "Fightin' Irish" will
win the award.
1984 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at age 37, is the oldest player in the National Basketball
Association. He decides to push those weary bones one more year by signing with the Los
Angeles Lakers - for $2 million.
- 1806 - The African Meeting House is established in Boston, Massachusetts and will become
the oldest African American house of worship still standing in the United States.
This house of worship will be constructed almost entirely by African American laborers and
craftsmen, but funds will be contributed by the white community. Because of the
leadership role its congregation takes in the early struggle for civil rights, the African
Meeting House will become known as the Abolition Church and Black Faneuil Hall. Frederick
Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison will be speakers there.
1849 - Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland. She will return to the South
nineteen times and bring out more than three hundred slaves.
1865 - Ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, abolishing
slavery is completed. The proclamation of its acceptance will take place on December
1869 - The National Black labor convention meets in Washington, DC.
1870 - Joseph H Rainey becomes the first African American in the House of Representatives,
from the state of South Carolina.
1871 - P.B.S. Pinchback is elected president pro tem of the Louisiana Senate and acting
lieutenant governor. He is the first African American to serve in these positions in
1875 - The Forty-Fourth Congress of 1875-1877 convenes with a high of eight African
Americans taking office. They are Senator Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi and
congressmen Jeremiah Haralson of Alabama, Josiah T. Walls of Florida, John Roy Lynch of
Mississippi, John A. Hyman of North Carolina, Charles E. Nash of Louisiana,; and Joseph H.
Rainey and Robert Smalls of South Carolina.
1892 - Theodore Lawless is born. He will become a medical pioneer.
1932 - Don King is born. He will become the most controversial and best known boxing
promoter in the history of the sport.
1949 - Blues legend Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter joins the ancestors in New York
1956 - Nelson Mandela and 156 others are jailed for political activities in South Africa.
1960 - 500 store owners sign pledges of nondiscrimination in Tucson, Arizona.
1961 - Dr. Frantz O. Fanon, noted author of "Black Skins, White Masks" and
"Wretched of the Earth", joins the ancestors in Washington, DC. He succumbs to
leukemia at the National Institutes of Health.
1977 - South Africa grants Bophuthatswana its independence The constitution in effect
after South Africa's first all-race elections in April 1994 will abolish this black
homeland, which will be reabsorbed into South Africa.
- 1874 - White Democrats kill seventy-five Republicans in a massacre at
1885 - The Forty-Ninth Congress (1885-87) is convened. Two African American
congressmen, James E. O'Hara of North Carolina and Robert Smalls of South
Carolina are in attendance.
1931 - Comer Cottrell is born in Mobile, Alabama. In 1970, he will become
founder and president of Pro-line Corporation, the largest African
American-owned business in the southwest, which he will start with $ 600 and a
borrowed typewriter. An entrepreneur with a wide range of interests, Cottrell
will also become the first African American to own a part of a major league
baseball team, the Texas Rangers, in 1989.
1941 - During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dorie Miller of Waco,
Texas, a messman aboard the battleship Arizona who had never been instructed
in firearms, heroically downs three Japanese planes before being ordered to
leave the ship. Miller will be awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery.
1941 - The Downtown Gallery in New York City presents the exhibit "American
Negro Art, 19th and 20th Century". Included in the exhibit is work by Robert
Duncanson, Horace Pippin, Eldzier Cortor, Richmond Barte' and others.
1941 - Lester Granger is named executive director of the National Urban
1941 - The NAACP's Spingarn Medal is presented to novelist Richard Wright,
"one of the most powerful of contemporary writer," for "his powerful depiction
in his books, 'Uncle Tom's Childre-n,' and 'Native Son,' of the effect of
proscription, segregation and denial of opportunities to the American Negro."
1942 - Reginald F. Lewis is born in Baltimore, Maryland. He will receive his
law degree from Harvard Law School in 1968. He will eventually become a
partner in Murphy, Thorpe & Lewis, the first African American law firm on Wall
Street. In 1989, he will become president and CEO of TLC Beatrice
International Holding Inc. With TLC's leverage acquisition of Beatrice
International Food Company, Lewis becomes the head of the largest African
American-owned business in the United States. TLC Beatrice had revenues of
$1.54 billion in 1992. He will join the ancestors in January, 1993, succumbing
to brain cancer.
1972 - W. Sterling Cary is elected president of the Nation Council of
1978 - Billy Sims is awarded the Heisman Trophy at the annual awards dinner
sponsored by the Downtown Athletic Club. The running back from the University
of Oklahoma is the sixth junior to win the award.
1981 - John Jacobs is named president of the National Urban League.
1985 - Bo Jackson of Auburn University wins the Heisman Trophy.
1990 - Rhythm and Blues artist, Dee Clark, joins the ancestors in Smyrna,
Georgia at the age of 52.
1991 - K. Ferguson Kelly received United States Army-PACIFIC Commander's
Certificate for exemplary achievement during intense preparation and execution
of various events to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the "Attack on Pearl
Harbor" and for providing personal security for the Secretary of Defense "Dick
1993 - The South African transitional executive council is set up.
- 1850 - The first African American woman to graduate from college is Lucy Ann
Stanton. She completes the two-year ladies' course and receives the Bachelor of
Literature degree from Oberlin College in Ohio.
1863 - President Abraham Lincoln issues his Proclamation on Amnesty and Reconstruction for
the restoration of the Confederate states into the Union. He offers them a full pardon and
restoration of their rights if they are willing to take an oath of loyalty to the Union
and accept the end of slavery.
1868 - Writer, Henry Hugh Proctor is born. He will be best known for his book,
"Between Black and White: Autobiographical Sketches." He will join the
ancestors in 1933.
1873 - The National Equal Rights Convention adopts a resolution to include African
1896 - J.T. White patents the lemon squeezer.
1925 - Entertainer, Sammy Davis Jr. is born in New York City. He will begin his
career at the age of four in vaudeville, performing with his father. Sammy will star
on Broadway in "Mr. Wonderful" and in movies with "Porgy and Bess",
Ocean's Eleven, and "Robin and the Seven Hoods." He will release over 40
albums and will win many gold records. He will join the ancestors on May 16, 1990.
1925 - James Oscar "Jimmy" Smith is born in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He
will become a modern jazz organist with hits such as "Walk on the Wild
Side." He will rule the Hammond organ in the '50s and '60s. He will
revolutionize the instrument, showing it could be creatively used in a jazz context and
popularized in the process. His Blue Note sessions from 1956 to 1963 were extremely
influential. He toured extensively through the '60s and '70s. His Blue Note
recordings will include superb collaborations with Kenny Burrell, Lee Morgan, Lou
Donaldson, Tina Brooks, Jackie McLean, Ike Quebec and Stanley Turrentine among others.
1933 - Clerow Wilson is born. "Flip" Wilson is the tenth in a family of
twenty-four children, eighteen of whom survived. He will become a popular comedian
and will star in his own prime time comedy show on television, "The Flip Wilson
Show." He will join the ancestors in 1998.
1936 - "Gibbs vs The Board of Education" in Montgomery County, Maryland is the
first of a succession of suits initiated by the NAACP, that eliminated wage differentials
between African American and white teachers.
1936 - "The Michigan Chronicle" is founded by Louis E. Martin.
1936 - The Spingarn Medal is presented to John Hope, posthumously, for his achievement as
president of Morehouse College and for his creative leadership in the founding of the
Atlanta University Center.
1939 - Jerry Butler is born in Sunflower, Mississippi. He will become a rhythm and
blues singer with his group, The Impressions and will be best known for his songs,
"Never Give You Up", "For Your Precious Love," "He Will Break
Your Heart," and "Only the Strong Survive." He will become involved in the
election of Chicago's first African-American mayor, Harold Washington, work as Cook County
Commissioner and will serve as a Chicago City Alderman.
1962 - The Reverend John Melville Burgess is consecrated as suffragan Bishop of
Massachusetts -- the first African American bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church to
serve a predominantly white diocese.
1967 - Major Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., the first African American astronaut, joins the
ancestors when his F-104 Starfighter crashes at Edwards Air Force Base in California s
1972 - Representative George Collins joins the ancestors in an airplane crash, near Midway
Airport in Chicago, Illinois, at the age of 47.
1972 - Attorney Jewel Lafontant is named Deputy Solicitor General of the United States.
1977 - Earl Campbell, a running back with the University of Texas, is awarded the Heisman
Trophy. Campbell will play for the Houston Oilers and be elected to the Football
Hall of Fame in 1990.
1983 - Mike Rozier, of the University of Nebraska, is awarded the Heisman Trophy.
1987 - Kurt Lidell Schmoke is inaugurated as the first African American mayor of
1988 - Barry Sanders, a running back with Oklahoma State University, is awarded the
1991 - Tap dancing legends Fayard and Harold Nicholas and six others receive Kennedy
Center Honors in Washington, DC.
1998 - Nkem Chukwu, a Nigerian American, delivers Ebuka, the first of eight children at
Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. In what doctors consider a medical first, the
other seven siblings will be delivered on December 20. Only seven will survive.
1999 - A Memphis, Tennessee jury hearing a lawsuit filed by the Rev. Martin Luther King
Jr.'s family, finds that the civil rights leader had been the victim of a vast murder
conspiracy, not a lone assassin.
- 1867 - The Georgia constitutional convention, consisting of 33 African American and 137
whites, opens in Atlanta, Georgia.
1872 - P. B. S. Pinchback is sworn in as governor of Louisiana after H.C. Warmoth is
impeached "for high crimes and misdemeanors." He becomes the first African
American governor of a state.
1875 - Carter G. Woodson is born in New Canton, Virginia. He will become known as
the "Father of Black History." In 1926 Woodson created the first of what
is an annual celebration of African American achievement. It starts as Negro History Week,
but will become Black History Month.
1919 - Roy deCarava is born in New York City. He will become a leading photographer
of the African American experience. The first African American photographer to be
awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, his first book, "The Sweet Flypaper of Life,"
will be a collaboration with poet Langston Hughes. He will also found and direct
Kamoinge Workshop for African American photographers in 1963.
1922 - John Elroy (Redd Foxx) Sanford, is born in St. Louis, Missouri. His off-color
records and concerts will catapult him to fame and his own television show, "Sanford
and Son," and a later series, "The Royal Family," his last before he
suddenly joins the ancestors in 1991.
1938 - The first public service programming aired when Jack L. Cooper launches the
"Search for Missing Persons" show.
1953 - Lloyd B. Free is born in Brooklyn, New York. He will become a professional
basketball player and will later change his name to World B. Free. He will be a NBA
guard with the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland
Cavaliers, and the Houston Rockets. He will leave the NBA in 1988 with 17,955 career
points and a career scoring average of 20.3 points per game.
1961 - Tanganyika gains independence from Great Britain and takes the name Tanzania.
1961 - Wilt Chamberlain of the NBA Philadelphia Warriors scores 67 points vs. the New York
1962 - Tanzania becomes a republic within the British Commonwealth.
1963 - Zanzibar gains independence from Great Britain.
1971 - Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Undersecretary of the United
Nations from 1955 to his retirement in October, 1971, joins the ancestors in New York City
at the age of 67.
1971 - Bill Pickett becomes the first African American elected to the National Rodeo
Cowboy Hall of Fame. He is the cowboy that invented the bulldogging event famous in
1976 - Tony Dorsett is awarded the Heisman Trophy. Dorsett, a running back for the
University of Pittsburgh, amasses a total of 6,082 total yards and will go on to play with
the Dallas Cowboys and help lead them to the Super Bowl.
1984 - The Jackson's Victory Tour comes to a close at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, after
55 performances in 19 cities. The production is reported to be the world's greatest rock
extravaganza and one of the most problematic. The Jackson brothers receive about $50
million during the five-month tour of the United States - before some 2.5 million fans.
1984 - Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears records another first as he runs six plays, as
quarterback. He is intercepted twice, but runs the ball himself on four carries.
The Green Bay Packers still win 20-14. Payton says after the game, "It
was OK, but I wouldn't want to do it for a living."
1984 - Eric Dickerson, of the Los Angeles Rams, becomes only the second pro football
player to run for more than 2,000 yards (2,105) in a season. He passes O.J.
Simpson's record of 2,003 as the Rams beat the Houston Oilers 27-16.
1989 - Craig Washington wins a special congressional election in Texas' 18th District to
fill the seat vacated by the death of George "Mickey" Leland.
- 1810 - Tom Cribb of Great Britain defeats beats African American Tom Molineaux in the
first interracial boxing championship. The fight lasted 40 rounds at Copthall Common
1846 - Norbert Rillieux invents the evaporating pan, which revolutionizes the sugar
1854 - Edwin C. Berry is born in Oberlin, Ohio. He will become a hotel entrepreneur
and erects a 22-room hotel, Hotel Berry, in Athens, Ohio. He will be known, at the
time of his retirement in 1921, as the most successful African American small-city hotel
operator in the United States.
1864 - A mixed cavalry force, including Fifth and Sixth Colored Cavalry regiments, invades
southwest Virginia and destroys salt mines at Saltville. The Sixth Cavalry was
especially brilliant in an engagement near Marion, Virginia.
1910 - Smarting from the humiliation of seeing the Ty Cobb-led Detroit Tigers tie the
Negro Havana Stars in a six game series 3-3, the "Indianapolis Freeman" states:
"The American scribes refused to write on the matter, it cut so deep and was kept
quiet." Not quiet enough, however, to prevent a ban on Negro teams, even the
Cuban-named clubs, from playing whites.
1943 - Theodore Wilson is born in New York City. He will become an actor and will star on
television in "That's My Mama" (Earl the Postman), and "Sanford Arms".
1950 - Dr. Ralph J. Bunche is the first African American to be presented the Nobel
Prize. He is awarded the Peace Prize for his efforts as under-secretary of the
United Nations, working for peace in the middle east.
1963 - Zanzibar becomes independent within the British Commonwealth.
1964 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. receives the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance
speech, he dramatically rejects racism and war and reaffirms his commitment to
"unarmed truth and unconditional love." He is the youngest person to earn
1965 - Sugar Ray Robinson permanently retires from boxing with six victories in title
bouts to his credit.
1967 - Otis Redding and four members of the Bar-Kays (Otis' backup group) are killed in
the crash of a private plane near Madison, Wisconsin. Redding is 26 years old.
His signature song, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" was recorded just three
days before his death. It will be #1 for four weeks beginning February 10, 1968.
1982 - Pamela McAllister Johnson becomes the first African American woman publisher of a
mainstream newspaper, the "Ithaca Journal."
1984 - South African Anglican Bishop, Desmond Tutu receives the Nobel Peace Prize.
1999 - Actress Shirley Hemphill joins the ancestors in West Covina, California at the age
of 52. She was best known for her role as the "waitress with an attitude" on the
television series, "What's Happening!"
- 1872 - America's first African American governor takes office as Pinckney Benton Stewart
Pinchback became acting governor of Louisiana.
1916 - John E. Bush, former slave and teacher, joins the ancestors. He had been appointed
receiver of the United States Land Office in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1898.
1917 - 13 African American soldiers are hanged for alleged participation in a Houston
1917 - The Great Jazz migration begins as Joe Oliver leaves New Orleans and settles in
Chicago, to be joined later by other stars.
1917 - The NAACP's Spingarn Medal is presented to Harry T. Burleigh, composer and singer,
for excellence in the field of music.
1926 - Willie Mae Thornton is born in Montgomery, Alabama. She will be better known
as "Big Mama" Thornton, a blues singer whose recording of "Hound Dog"
in 1952 will be mimicked by Elvis Presley, much to his success. She also recorded
the hits "Ball & Chain," and "Stronger than Dirt."
1928 - Lewis Latimore joins the ancestors in Flushing, New York. Employed as a chief
draftsman, Mr. Latimore created the drawings for Alexander Graham Bell's telephone in
1931 - The British Statute of Westminster gives complete legislative independence to South
1940 - Lev T. Mills, who will become an artist and chairman of the art department at
Spelman College, is born in Tallahassee, Florida. His prints and mixed-media works
will be collected by the Victoria & Albert and British Museums in London and the High
Museum in Atlanta and include glass mosaic murals for an Atlanta subway station and the
atrium floor of Atlanta's City Hall.
1954 - Jermaine Jackson is born in Gary, Indiana. He will become a singer and
musician with his brothers and perform with their group, The Jackson Five.
1961 - U.S. Supreme Court reverses the conviction of sixteen sit-in students who had been
arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
1961 - Langston Hughes' musical, "Black Nativity," opens on Broadway.
1964 - Sam Cooke joins the ancestors after being killed. Bertha Franklin, Manager of
the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, claimed she killed the singer in self-defense after
he'd tried to rape a 22-year-woman and then turned on Franklin.
1980 - George Rogers, a running back for the University of South Carolina, is awarded the
Heisman Trophy. He achieved 21 consecutive 100-yard games with the gamecocks and
led the nation in rushing.
1981 - Muhammad Ali's boxes in his 61st & last fight, losing to Trevor Berbick.
- 1870 - Joseph Hayne Rainey is the first African American to serve in Congress
representing South Carolina. He is sworn in to fill an unexpired term.
1872 - U.S. Attorney General George Williams sends a telegram to "Acting Governor
Pinchback," saying that the African American politician "was recognized by the
President as the lawful executive of Louisiana."
1899 - Boston native, dentist, and avid golfer, George F. Grant receives a patent for a
wooden golf tee. Prior to the use of the tee, wet sand was used to make a small
mound to place the ball. Grant's invention will revolutionize the manner in which golfers
swing at the ball.
1911 - Josh Gibson is born. He will become the home run king of the Negro Baseball
1912 - Henry Armstrong is born in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1938 he will become the
first boxer to hold three titles after winning the lightweight boxing championship.
1913 - James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens is born in Oakville, Alabama. He will
become a world-class athlete in college, setting world records in many events. He
will go on to win 4 gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, spoiling Hitler's plans to
showcase Aryan sports supremacy.
1918 - Famed jazz singer Joe Williams is born in Cordele, Georgia. Williams will sing for
seven years in Count Basie's band, where he will record such hits as "Every Day
I have the Blues."
1929 - Vincent Smith is born in New York City. Smith will exhibit his works on four
continents and be represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the National
Museum of American Art, and the National Museum of Afro-American Artists in Boston.
1938 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Missouri that a state must provide equal
educational facilities for African Americans within its boundaries. Lloyd Gaines,
the plaintiff in the case, disappears after the decision and is never seen again.
1941 - Dionne Warwick is born in East Orange, New Jersey. Warwick will sing in a
gospel trio with her sister Dee Dee and cousin Cissy Houston, and begin her solo career in
1960 singing the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. She will become a three-time
1943 - Grover Washington, Jr. is born. He will become a reknown jazz artist and
famous for his recording of "Mr. Magic."
1961 - Martin Luther King Jr., along with over seven hundred demonstrators is arrested in
Albany, Ga., after five mass marches on city hall to protest segregation. The
arrests trigger the militant Albany movement.
1963 - Kenya achieves its independence from Great Britain with Jomo Kenyatta as its first
1963 - Medgar Wiley Evers is awarded the Spingarn Medal posthumously for his civil rights
1965 - Johnny Lee, an actor best known for his portrayal of "Calhoun" on
"The Amos 'n' Andy Show," joins the ancestors at the age of 67.
1965 - Gale Sayers, of the Chicago Bears, scores 6 touchdowns and ties the NFL record.
1968 - Arthur Ashe becomes the first African American to be ranked Number One in tennis.
1975 - The National Association of Black Journalists is formed in Washington, DC.
Among its founding members are Max Robinson, who will become the first African American
anchor of a national network news program, and Acel Moore, a future Pulitzer Prize winner.
1979 - Rhodesia becomes the independent nation of Zimbabwe.
1986 - Bone Crusher Smith knocks out WBA champion Tim Witherspoon in Madison Square Garden
in New York City.
- 1903 - Ella Baker is born in Norfolk, Virginia. A civil rights worker who will
direct the New York branch of the NAACP, Baker will become executive director of the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1960's during student integration of lunch
counters in the southern states. She also will play a key role in the formation of
the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and its voter registration drive in
1913 - Archibald Lee Wright is born in Benoit, Mississippi. Better known as Archie
Moore, he will become a boxer and win the light heavyweight crown in 1952. He will
reign as champion until 1960.
1924 - Larry Doby is born. He will become the first African American in baseball's
American League, playing for the Cleveland Indians. He will be the 1954 RBI leader.
1944 - The first African American women complete officer training for the WAVES (Women's
Auxiliary Volunteers for Emergency Service). They had been admitted to the corps two
1958 - Tim Moore, an actor best known for his portrayal of Kingfish on the Amos 'n' Andy
television show, joins the ancestors at the age of 70.
1981 - Popular African American comedian Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham joins the
ancestors after a stroke at the age of 75. He became famous in mainstream America,
late in his life for his "here comes de judge" routine popularized in
1989 - President De Klerk of South Africa meets with imprisoned Nelson Mandela, at de
Klerk's office in Cape Town, to talk about the end of apartheid.
1997 - Charles Woodson, of the University of Michigan, is awarded the Heisman
Trophy. He is the first defensive player ever to win the coveted prize.
- 1829 - John Mercer Langston is born in Louisa County, Virginia. He will have a
distinguished career as an attorney, educator, recruiter of soldiers for the all African
American 5th Ohio, 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments, dean of the law school and
president of Howard University, diplomat, and U.S. congressman.
1915 - Jack Johnson becomes the world heavyweight boxing champion.
1920 - Clark Terry is born in St. Louis, Missouri. He will become a trumpeteer and
flugelhorn player who will be known for his association with Duke Ellington on the 1950's,
his innovative flugelhorn sound, and unusual mumbling scat singing.
1939 - Ernest "Ernie" Davis is born. He will become the first African
American to win the Heisman Trophy (1961). He will join the ancestors succumbing to
leukemia, before he is able to play in the National Football League.
1945 - Stanley Crouch is born in Los Angeles, California. He will become a drummer,
poet, and writer for "The Village Voice." Among his books will be "Notes of
a Hanging Judge," published in 1990.
1963 - Singer Dinah Washington joins the ancestors after a sleeping pill overdose at the
age of 39 in Detroit, Michigan. She popularized many, many great songs, including
"What a Diff'rence a Day Makes", "Unforgettable" and several hits with
Brook Benton, including "Baby (You've Got What it Takes)" and "A Rockin'
Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love)".
1968 - Sammy Davis Jr. is awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for his "superb and
many-faceted talent," and his contributions to the civil rights movement.
1968 - Classes of San Francisco State University are suspended after demonstrations by the
Black Student Union and Third World Liberation Front.
1972 - Johnny Rodgers, a running back with the University of Nebraska, is awarded the
Heisman Trophy. Rodgers gained a total of 5,586 yards for the Cornhuskers in three
1980 - Elston Howard, a New York Yankee catcher for many years, joins the ancestors.
1991 - Desmond Howard, of the University of Michigan wins the Heisman trophy.
- 1644 - A Dutch land grant is issued to Lucas Santomee, son of Peter Santomee, one of the
first 11 Africans brought to Manhattan. Among the land granted to Santomee and the
original Africans is property in Brooklyn and Greenwich Village.
1706 - A slave named Onesimus arrives in the home of Cotton Mather. The slave's
experience and explanation of African inoculation will result in Mather's encouragement of
Dr. Zabdiel Boylston to inoculate for smallpox in 1721.
1864 - In one of the decisive battles of the Civil War, two brigades of African American
troops help crush one of the South's finest armies at the Battle of Nashville.
African American troops open the battle on the first day and successfully engage the right
flank of the rebel line. On the second day Col. Charles R. Thompson's African
American brigade makes a brilliant charge up Overton Hill. The Thirteenth U.S.
Colored Troops will sustain more casualties than any other regiment involved in the
1896 - Julia Terry Hammonds receives a patent for the apparatus for holding yarn skeins.
1934 - Maggie Lena Walker, the first woman to head a bank, joins the ancestors at the age
1934 - The NAACP's Spingarn Award is awarded to William Taylor Burwell Williams, Tuskegee
dean and agent of the Jeanes and Slater funds, for his achievements as an educator.
1939 - Cindy Birdsong is born. She will become a singer with Patti LaBelle and the
Bluebells and Diana Ross and the Supremes.
1941 - Lena Horne records the torch classic for Victor Records, that will become her
signature song: "Stormy Weather."
1943 - Thomas W. "Fats" Waller joins the ancestors, outside Kansas City,
Missouri at the age of 39, from pneumonia. The self-taught piano player began
recording as a teenager and became one of a small group of African American pianists to
make piano rolls for the growing player piano industry. Waller's first solo
recording in 1926 led to his own radio show and three tours of France. Waller was
known for such popular songs as "Ain't Misbehavin'," "I'm Gonna Sit Right
Down and Write Myself a Letter," and "Honeysuckle Rose." He also
wrote music for the stage and the movies, most notably "Stormy Weather."
1943 - The San Francisco Sun-Reporter is established. Its co-founder, Thomas Fleming
will be its editor and a working journalist into his nineties.
1943 - The NAACP's Spingarn Medal is presented to William H. Hastie "for his
distinguished career as a jurist and as an uncompromising champion of equal justice."
1950 - Ezzard Charles knocks out Nick Barone to retain his heavyweight boxing title.
1954 - The Netherlands Antilles become a co-equal part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
1961 - Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, psychologist and educator, is awarded the NAACP's Spingarn
Medal for pioneering studies that influenced the Supreme Court decision on school
1961 - Police use tear gas and leashed dogs to stop a mass demonstration by fifteen
hundred African Americans in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
1980 - Dave Winfield signs a ten-year contract with the New York Yankees, for somewhere
between $1.3 and $1.5 million. He will become the wealthiest player in the history
of U.S. team sports. The total package for the outfielder is said to be worth over
$22 million dollars.
1985 - Businessman J. Bruce Llewellyn and former basketball star Julius Erving become
owners of Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling, the fourth-largest African American business in
the United States.
Updated by K. Ferguson Kelly:
November 30, 2003