01 -15 February in Black History
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1810 - Charles Lenox Remond is born in Salem, Massachusetts to free parents. He will become one of the most prominent of the African American abolitionist crusaders.
1810 - The first insurance company managed by African Americans, the American Insurance Company of Philadelphia, is established.
1833 - Henry McNeal Turner is born. He will become one of the first Bishops in the African American Episcopal Church. He will also be an army chaplain, political organizer, magazine editor, and college chancellor.
1865 - John S. Rock becomes the first African American attorney allowed to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Due to his poor health, he never actually argued a case before the court, succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of 41.
1870 - Jonathan Jasper Wright is elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court. He is the first African American to hold a major judicial position.
1871 - Jefferson Franklin Long, Republican congressman from Georgia, makes the first speech by an African American on the floor of Congress. His text is to oppose leniency to former Confederates.
1902 - Langston Hughes is born in Joplin, Missouri. He will be known as one of the most prolific American poets of the 20th century and a leading voice of the Harlem Renaissance. In addition to his poetry, Hughes will achieve success as an anthologist and juvenile author, write plays and librettos, found theater groups, and be a widely read columnist and humorist. Among his honors will be the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in 1960.
1938 - Sherman Hemsley is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will become an actor and will known for his roles in the TV shows "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons," and "Amen."
1948 - James Johnson, Jr. is born in Buffalo, New York. He will become a singer, songwriter, producer, and musician working under the name "Rick James." He will be best known for his recording of "Super Freak" and produce Teena Marie, the gold-certified Mary Jane Girls, Eddie Murphy, and others.
1957 - P.H. Young becomes the first African American pilot, flying on an United States scheduled passenger airline.
1960 - Four African American college students from North Carolina A&T College in Greensboro, North Carolina sit at a "whites-only" Woolworth's lunch counter and refuse to leave when denied service, beginning a sit-in protest.
1963 - Nyasaland (now Malawi) becomes a self-governing nation. 1965 - More than seven hundred demonstrators, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., are arrested in Selma, Alabama.
1965 - Ruby Dee becomes the first African American thespian to play a major role at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut.
1978 - The first stamp of the United States Postal Service's Black Heritage USA series honors Harriet Tubman, famed abolitionist and "conductor" on the Underground Railroad.
1982 - The nations of Senegal & Gambia form a loose confederation named Senegambia.
1991 - President F.W. de Klerk of South Africa, states that he will repeal all apartheid laws.
1992 - Barry Bonds signs baseball's highest single year contract to date ($4.7 million).
1997 - BET Holdings and Encore Media Corp. launch BET Movie/Starz, the first 24 hour African American movie channel.
1914 - William Ellisworth Artis is born in Washington, North Carolina. He will become one of the finest African American artists of the twentieth century. He will be educated at Syracuse University and become a student of Augusta Savage. Artis's sculptures will exhibit a strong originality and a romantic, almost spiritual appeal. His works will be exhibited at Atlanta University, the Whitney Museum, the "Two Centuries of Black American Art" exhibit and collected by Fisk University, Hampton University, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and private collectors.
1915 - Biologist Ernest E. Just receives the Spingarn Medal for his pioneering research on fertilization and cell division.
1938 - Operatic baritone, Simon Estes is born in Centerville, Iowa. He will be noted for his leading roles in Wagnerian operas and will sing at the opening of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
1948 - President Harry S. Truman sends a message to Congress pressing for civil rights legislation, including anti-lynching, fair employment practices, and anti-poll tax provisions.
1956 - Autherine J. Lucy becomes the first African American student to attend the University of Alabama.
1956 - Seven whites and four African Americans are arrested after an all-night civil rights sit-in at the Englewood, New Jersey city hall.
1956 - Four African American mothers are arrested after a sit-in at a Chicago elementary school. The mothers later receive suspended $50 fines. Protests, picketing and demonstrations continue for several weeks against de facto segregation, double shifts and mobile classrooms.
1971 - Ugandan army strongman Major-General Idi Amin ousts Milton Obote and assumes full power as military head of state and forms an 18-man cabinet to run the country. Amin, a Muslim, strengthens ties with Arab nations and launches a genocidal program to purge Uganda's Lango and Acholi ethnic groups. He will order all Asians to leave the country, which will thrust Uganda into economic chaos. During Amin's regime, about 300,000 Ugandans will be killed.
1984 - Ralph Sampson, one of the Houston Rockets 'Twin Towers', is named Rookie of the Month in the National Basketball Association. To earn the honor, Sampson averages 24.4 points, 12 rebounds and 2.43 blocked shots per game during the month of January. In addition, Sampson will become the only rookie (up to that time) to be named to the NBA's All-Star Game.
1988 - A commemorative stamp of James Weldon Johnson is issued by the United States Postal Service as part of its Black Heritage USA series.
1990 - In a dramatic concession to South Africa's black majority, President F.W. de Klerk lifts a ban on the African National Congress, and sixty other political organizations and promises to free Nelson Mandela .
1810 - The Argentine national hero from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Antonio Ruiz (El Negro Falucho), joins the ancestors, fighting for his country.
1855 - The Wisconsin Supreme Court declares that the United States Fugitive Slave Law is unconstitutional.
1874 - Blanche Kelso Bruce is elected to the United States Senate from Mississippi. He will be the first African American senator to serve a full term and the first to preside over the Senate during a debate.
1879 - Charles Follis is born. He will become the first African American professional football player in the United States. He will play for a professional team known as the Shelby Blues, in Shelby, Ohio.
1935 - Johnny "Guitar" Watson is born in Houston. Texas. He will become a guitarist and singer known for his wild style of guitar playing and the sound which merged Blues Music with touches of Rhythm & Blues and Funk.
1938 - Emile Griffith is born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He will move to New York City as a young man and discover boxing. He will win the Golden Gloves title and turn professional in 1958. In his career, he will meet 10 world champions and box 339 title-fight rounds, more than any other fighter in history. He will be elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame with the distinction of being the third fighter in history to hold both the welterweight and middleweight titles.
1938 - Elijah Pitts is born. He will become a professional football player with the Green Bay Packers. A major contributor as a running back, he will help his team win Super Bowl I. He will return to the Super Bowl thirty years later as a running back coach with the Buffalo Bills.
1939 - The Baltimore Museum of Art exhibit, "Contemporary Negro Art", opens. The exhibit, which will run for 16 days, will feature works by Richmond Barthe, Aaron Douglas, Archibald Motley, Jr., and Jacob Lawrence's Toussaint L'Ouverture series.
1947 - Percival Prattis of "Our World" in New York City, becomes the first African American news correspondent admitted to the House and Senate press galleries in Washington, DC.
1948 - Laura Wheeler Waring, portrait painter and illustrator, joins the ancestors. Trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, she received the Harmon Award in 1927 for achievement in the fine arts and, with Betsey Graves Reyneau, completed a set of 24 renderings of their works entitled "Portraits of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origins" for the Harmon Foundation in the 1940's.
1948 - Rosa Ingram and her fourteen-and sixteen-year-old sons are condemned to death for the alleged murder of a white Georgian. Mrs. Ingram states that she acted in self-defense.
1964 - School officials report that 464,000 Black and Puerto Rican students boycotted New York City public schools.
1980 - Muhammad Ali starts tour of Africa as President Jimmy Carter's envoy.
1981 - The Air Force Academy drops its ban on applicants with sickle-cell trait. The ban was considered by many a means of discriminating against African Americans.
1984 - A sellout crowd of 18,210 at Madison Square Garden in New York City sees Carl Lewis best his own world record in the long jump by 9-1/4 inches.
1989 - Former St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman, Bill White becomes the first African American to head an American professional sports league when he was named to succeed A. Bartlett Giamatti as National League president.
1993 - The federal trial of four police officers charged with civil rights violations in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, began in Los Angeles.
1993 - Marge Schott is suspended as Cincinnati Reds owner for one year for her repeated use of racial and ethnic slurs.
1794 - Slavery is abolished by France. France will have a very lukewarm commitment to abolition and will, under Napoleon, reestablish slavery in 1802, along with the reinstitution of the "Code Noir," prohibiting blacks, mulattos and other people of color from entering French colonial territory or intermarrying with whites.
1822 - The American Colonization Society founds the African colony for free African Americans that will become the country of Liberia, West Africa.
1898 - Harry Haywood is born in South Omaha, Nebraska. After relocating to Minneapolis, Minnesota with his family, he will join the U.S. Army. He will serve with the 370th Infantry in France during World War I. Returning to Chicago, Illinois after the war, he will be active as a Black Nationalist, becoming a member of the African Blood Brotherhood and the Communist Party of the USA. He will be a leading proponent of Black Nationalism, self-determination, and the idea that American Blacks are a colonized people who should organize themselves into a nation. From 1926 to 1930, he will study in the Soviet Union, where he will meet several anti-colonial revolutionaries, including Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh. On his return to the U.S. in 1931, he will be chosen to lead the Communist Party's Negro Department, and in 1934 will be was elected a member of its politburo. The Spanish Civil War will take him to Spain in 1937, where he will fight in a volunteer Communist brigade against General Francisco Franco's fascist regime. During World War II, his belief in black self-determination and territorial autonomy will put him at odds with Communist Party policy, which had gravitated away from support for a Black nation in the American south. His agitation on "The Negro Question" led to his expulsion from the Party in 1959. He will remain in Chicago, supporting Black Nationalist movements such as the Nation of Islam. He will join the ancestors in 1985.
1913 - Rosa Parks is born in Tuskegee, Alabama. When the seamstress and NAACP member refuses to yield her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955, her actions will spark a 382-day boycott of the buses in Montgomery, halting business and services in the city and become the initial act of non-violent disobedience of the American Civil Rights movement. She will be honored with the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for her heroism and later work with Detroit youth(1979) and be called the "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement."
1926 - John Hearne is born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Jamaican parents. He will move with his parents back to Jamaica at the age of two. He will join the Royal Air Force during World War II, primarily to leave the island and will serve as a gunner. After the war, he will attend Edinburgh University in Scotland and graduate with a Masters' degree in history in 1950. He will become a novelist and playwright, publishing five novels between 1955 and 1961. He will publish several plays during the 1960's and 1970's. He will teach at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica from 1962 to 1992 and will publish his sixth novel in 1981.
1947 - Sanford Bishop is born in Mobile, Alabama. He will graduate from Morehouse College and Emory University Law School. He will specialize in civil rights law and will become a member of the Georgia Legislature from 1977 to 1993 (House and Senate). In 1993, he will be elected a member of the United States House of Representatives from Georgia.
1952 - Jackie Robinson is named Director of Communication for WNBC in New York City, becoming the first African American executive of a major radio-TV network.
1965 - Joseph Danquah joins the ancestors in Nsawam Prison in Ghana at the age of 69. He had been a Ghanaian scholar, lawyer and nationalist. He had led the opposition against Kwame Nkrumah who had him imprisoned.
1969 - The Popular Liberation Movement Of Angola begins an armed struggle against Portugal.
1971 - The National Guard is mobilized to quell rioting in Wilmington, North Carolina. Two persons are killed
1971 - Major League Baseball announces a special Hall of Fame wing for special displays about the Negro Leagues. These exhibits will provide information on these most deserving but rarely recognized contributors to Baseball.
1974 - The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps nineteen-year-old newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst from her apartment in Berkeley, California.
1980 - Camara Laye joins the ancestors in Senegal at the age of 52. He was a Guinean novelist considered a pioneer of West African literature.
1986 - A stamp of Sojourner Truth is issued by the United States Postal Service as part of its Black Heritage USA commemorative series. Truth was an abolitionist, woman's rights activist and a famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad.
1996 - Congressman J.C. Watts (R-Oklahoma) becomes the first African American selected to respond to a State of the Union address.
1997 - Sixteen months after O.J. Simpson was cleared of murder charges, a civil trial jury blames him for the killings of his ex-wife and her friend and orders him to pay millions in compensatory damages.
1866 - The distribution of public land and confiscated land to freedmen and loyal refugees in forty acre lots is offered in an amendment to the Freedmen's Bureau bill by Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. The measure is defeated in the House by a vote of 126 to 37. An African American delegation, led by Frederick Douglass calls on President Johnson and urges ballots for former slaves. The meeting ends in disagreement and controversy after Johnson reiterates his opposition to African American suffrage.
1934 - Henry (Hank) Aaron is born in Mobile, Alabama. After starting his major league baseball career with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, he will distinguish himself as a home-run specialist. Aaron will be considered by some, the best baseball player in history. Over his 23-year Major League Baseball career, he will compile more batting records than any other player in baseball history. He will hold the record for runs batted in with 2297, and will be a Gold Glove Winner in 1958, 1959, and 1960. His most famous accomplishment will come on April 8, 1974, when at the age of 40, he will hit a 385-foot home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers, surpassing Babe Ruth's record of 714 career home runs. He will end his career with 755 home runs. In 1982, he will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. After his retirement, he will return to the Atlanta Braves as a vice-president for player development, and will be promoted to senior vice-president in 1989.
1941 - Barrett Strong is born. He will become a singer best known for his recording of "Money (That's What I Want)." He will also be a prolific songwriter, responsibile for hits such as "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was A Rolling Stone," and "Ball of Confusion."
1956 - L.R. Lautier becomes the first African American to be admitted to the National Press Club.
1958 - Clifton W. Wharton, Sr. becomes the first African American to head an American Embassy in Europe when he is confirmed as ambassador to Romania.
1962 - A suit seeking to bar Englewood, New Jersey, from maintaining "racial segregated" elementary schools, is filed in United States District Court.
1968 - Students in Orangeburg, South Carolina try to end the discriminatory practices of a local bowling alley. Their confrontation with police and the National Guard, and the subsequent death of three students, creates widespread outrage among students on campuses across the South.
1969 - Cinque Gallery is incorporated by African American artists Romare Bearden, Ernest Crichlow, and Norman Lewis. Located in the SoHo district of New York City, the nonprofit gallery's mission is to assist in the growth and development of minority artists and to end the cycle of exclusion of their work from the mainstream artistic community.
1972 - Robert Lewis Douglas, founder, owner and coach of the New York Renaissance is the first African American inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. The New York Renaissance was an African American team that won 88 consecutive games in 1933.
1977 - Sugar Ray Leonard beats Luis Vega in 6 rounds in his first professional fight.
1989 - Kareem Abdul-Jabar becomes the first NBA player to score 38,000 points.
1994 - Avowed White supremacist Byron De La Beckwith is convicted of Medger Evers' murder, more than thirty years after Evers was shot in the back from ambush. After deliberating for seven hours, a jury of eight African Americans and four whites convicted 73-year-old De La Beckwith of Medgar Evers's murder, sentencing him to life in prison. He died there seven years later. As a Mississippi State Supreme Court justice wrote about the retrial: "Miscreants brought before the bar of justice in this state must, sooner or later, face the cold realization that justice, slow and plodding though she may be, is certain in the state of Mississippi."
1820 - The first organized emigration back to Africa begins when 86 free African Americans leave New York Harbor aboard the Mayflower of Liberia. They are bound for the British colony of Sierra Leone, which welcomes free African Americans as well as fugitive slaves.
1867 - The Anglo-American merchant George Peabody, founds the $2million Peabody Education Fund. It is the first philanthropy established in the wake of the Civil War to promote free public education in 12 Civil War devastated southern states for whites and African Americans. The Peabody Fund will provide funding for construction, endowments, scholarships, teacher and industrial education for newly freed slaves.
1898 - Melvin B. Tolson, author and educator, is born in Moberly, Missouri. Educated at Fisk, Lincoln, and Columbia universities, his first volume of poetry, "Rendezvous with America," will be published in 1944. He will be best known for "Libretto for the Republic of Liberia," published in 1953.
1931 - The Harlem Experimental Theatre Group performs its first play at St. Philips Parish House. The group's advisory board includes famed actress Rose McClendon, author Jesse Fauset, and Grace Nail.
1933 - Walter E. Fauntroy is born in Washington, DC. He will become a civil rights leader and minister. He will later become the United States congressman for the District of Columbia from 1971 to 1991.
1945 - Robert Nesta Marley is born in St. Ann, Jamaica to Captain Norval and Cedella Marley. He will become a successful singer along with his group, The Wailers. Bob Marley and The Wailers were among the earliest to sing Reggae, a blend of Jamaican dance music and American Rhythm & Blues with a heavy dose of Rastafarianism, the Jamaican religion that blends Christian and African teachings. He will join the ancestors in 1981 at the age of 36, succumbing to cancer. As a result of his accomplishments, he will be awarded Jamaica's Order Of Merit, the nation's third highest honor, (April, 1981) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the country's culture. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
1950 - Natalie Cole is born to Nat "King" and Maria Cole. She will follow in her famous father's footsteps and become a recording star. She will become a Grammy Award-winning singer, and Best New Artist in 1975.
1961 - The "jail-in" movement starts in Rock Hill, South Carolina, when arrested students demand to be jailed rather than pay fines.
1993 - Arthur Ashe, tennis champion, joins the ancestors at the age of 49. He succumbs from complications of AIDS, contracted from a transfusion during a earlier heart surgery.
1712 - Twenty-one slaves are executed after killing nine whites when a slave revolt occurs in New York City.
1872 - The doors of Alcorn Agricultural & Mechanical College open.
1883 - James Hubert "Eubie" Blake is born in Baltimore, Maryland. He will become a pianist, who will be an instrumental part of the creation of a new music movement named 'ragtime.' He will form a songwriting team with Noble Sissle that will create many Broadway musicals. He will temporarily retire after World War II and will see a resurgence of his career in the 1960's, with renewed public interest in ragtime. He will remain active as a jazz pianist and composer until his ninety-ninth year. He will join the ancestors on February 12, 1983 in New York City.
1926 - The first Negro History Week begins. Originated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the Sunday kickoff celebration involves ministers, teachers, professionals, and business people in highlighting the "achievements of the Negro." The concept will win increasing popularity and be expanded in 1976 to an entire month of local and national events exploring African American culture.
1946 - A filibuster in the United States Senate kills the Fair Employment Practices Commission bill.
1974 - Grenada achieves its independence from Great Britain.
1986 - Haiti's President-for-Life, Jean-Claude Duvalier loses control of his country to strikes, led by students. The U.S. government asked him to resign and helped him flee to exile in France. Henri Namphy becomes leader of Haiti.
1991 - The Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide is sworn in as Haiti's first democratically elected president.
2000 - Tiger Woods gains his sixth straight PGA Tour victory with an astonishing comeback to win the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, becoming the first player since Ben Hogan in 1948 to win six in a row.
1865 - The first African American major in the United States Army is a physician, Dr. Martin Robinson Delany.
1894 - Congress repeals the Enforcement Act, which makes it easier for some states to disenfranchise African American voters.
1925 - Marcus Garvey is sent to federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia for mail fraud in connection with the sale of stock in his Black Star Line. His prosecution was vigorously advocated by several prominent African American leaders, including Robert Sengstacke Abbott and others. Garvey was railroaded because of the power he had amassed over the African American population of America.
1925 - Students stage a strike at Fisk University to protest the policies of the white administration at the school.
1944 - Harry S. McAlpin of the "Daily World" in Atlanta, Georgia, is the first African American journalist accredited to attend White House press conferences.
1965 - Dr. Joseph B. Danquah, Ghanaian political leader, joins the ancestors. He had been the leader of the United Gold Coast Convention, a political body which had pressed the British for a gradual relinquishing of colonial rule.
1968 - Gary Coleman is born in Zion, Ohio. He will become a child actor portraying "Arnold" in the television series, "Different Strokes," which aired from 1978 to 1986.
1968 - Highway Patrol Officers kill three South Carolina State University students during a demonstration in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Students are protesting against a whites-only Orangeburg bowling alley.
1984 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers scores 27 points while leading his team to a 111-109 victory over the Boston Celtics. Abdul-Jabbar passes Wilt Chamberlain's NBA career record of 12,682 field goals.
1986 - Oprah Winfrey becomes the first African American woman to host a nationally syndicated talk show.
1986 - 5' 7" Spud Webb, of the Atlanta Hawks, wins the NBA Slam Dunk Competition.
1990 - CBS News suspends resident humorist Andy Rooney for racial comments he supposedly made to a gay magazine, comments Rooney denies making.
1995 - The U.N. Security Council approves sending 7,000 peacekeepers to Angola to cement an accord ending 19 years of civil war.
2000 - Edna Griffin, an Iowa civil-rights pioneer best known for integrating lunch counters, joins the ancestors at the age of 90. In 1948, Griffin led the fight against Katz Drug Store in downtown Des Moines, which refused to serve blacks at its lunch counter. Griffin staged sit-ins, picketed in front of the store and filed charges against the store's owner, Maurice Katz, who was fined. The Iowa Supreme Court then enforced the law which made it illegal to deny service based on race. She organized Iowans to attend the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 march on Washington, D.C., and helped start the former radio station KUCB. On May 15, 1999, Des Moines' mayor proclaimed "Edna Griffin Day." On February 5, 2000, Griffin was inducted into the Iowa African American Hall of Fame.
1906 - Never fully recovering from a bout of pneumonia in 1899, poet and author Paul Laurence Dunbar joins the ancestors in Dayton, Ohio, at the age of 33. He nonetheless produced three novels (including "The Sport of the Gods"), three books of verse, three collections of short stories, two unpublished plays, and lyric pieces set to music by Will Marion Cook.
1944 - Alice Walker is born In Eatonton, Georgia. Best known for "The Color Purple," which will win the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, she will also write a variety of other critically praised and award-winning works including poetry and children's books and edit a book on Zora Neale Hurston, whom she will credit as her role model.
1944 - John Rozelle is born in St. Louis, Missouri. He will become an artist and professor at the Art Institute of Chicago. His work reflects his self identification as an "African American sentinel," or visual historian, guide, and advocate of contemporary African American culture.
1951 - Dennis "DT" Thomas is born. He will become a rhythm and blues musician with the group, 'Kool & the Gang.'
1953 - Gary Franks is born in Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1990, he will be elected to Congress from Connecticut's 5th District and become the first African American Republican congressman since Oscar De Priest left office in 1934.
1962 - Jamaica signs an agreement with Great Britain to become independent.
1964 - Arthur Ashe, Jr. becomes the first African American on a United States Davis Cup Team.
1964 - A speech by U.S. Representative Martha Griffiths in Congress, on sex discrimination, results in civil rights protection for women being added to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
1970 - Alonzo Mourning is born. He will become a basketball star at Georgetown University and will go on to play center for the NBA Miami Heat.
1971 - Satchel Paige becomes the first African American elected to professional baseball's Hall of Fame for his career in the Negro Leagues.
1868 - Republican conservatives draft new constitution which concentrates political power in the hands of the governor and limits the impact of the Black vote. This is made possible by Conservatives, aided by military forces, who seize the convention hall and establish control over the reconstruction process in Florida.
1927 - Mary Leontyne Violet Price, who will be acclaimed as one of the world's greatest operatic talents, is born in Laurel, Mississippi. She will amass many operatic firsts, being the first African American to sing opera on network television and the first African American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Among her honors will be the NAACP's Spingarn Medal, three Emmys, and Kennedy Center Honors.
1939 - Roberta Flack is born in Asheville, North Carolina. She will begin her professional singing career in Washington, DC. She will go on to win Grammys for "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," "Where Is the Love," and "Killing Me Softly with His Song."
1942 - Mary Lovelace O'Neal is born in Jackson, Mississippi. Educated at Howard and Columbia universities, she will become a professor of fine arts and a painter who will exhibit her work in museums in the United States, Morocco, and Chile.
1943 - Eta Phi Beta, the national business and professional sorority, is incorporated in Detroit, Michigan. It will have chapters throughout the United States and number among its members civil rights activist Daisy Bates and artist Margaret T. Burroughs.
1945 - The United States, Russia, Great Britain, and France approve a peace treaty with Italy, under which Italy renounces all rights and claims to Ethiopia and Eritrea.
1945 - The Chicago Defender reports that over a quarter of a million African Americans migrated to California during the years 1942 and 1943. As the percentage of African Americans in California increases from 1 1/2% to more than 10% of the total population, so does the practice of racial segregation.
1971 - Bill White becomes the first African American major league baseball announcer when he begins announcing for the New York Yankees.
1989 - Ronald H. Brown, who had served as Jesse Jackson's campaign manager, becomes chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the first African American to hold the position in either party.
1990 - South African President, Frederik Willem de Klerk announces that Nelson Mandela will be set free on February 11th after 27 years in prison.
1998 - Dr. David Satcher is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become Surgeon General.
1783 - The first woman to preach in an AME church, at Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, Jarena Lee, is born. She will chronicle her life's work in her book, "Religious Experiences and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee : A Preachin' Woman" (1849). Jarena Lee will be one of first African-American women to speak out publicly against slavery.
1790 - The Society of Friends (Quakers) presents a petition to Congress calling for the abolition of slavery.
1933 - Lois Gardella becomes the original "Aunt Jemima."
1958 - Mohawk Airlines schedules Ruth Carol Taylor on her initial flight from Ithaca, New York to New York City. She becomes the first African-American flight attendant for a United States-based air carrier.
1961 - Robert Weaver becomes the highest-ranking African American in the federal government as he is sworn in as administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency.
1966 - Willie Mays signs with the San Francisco Giants for $ 130,000 a year. At the time, this is one of the highest salaries in professional baseball.
1977 - Clifford Alexander, Jr. is confirmed as the first African American Secretary of the Army. He will hold the position until the end of President Jimmy Carter's term.
1977 - Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam is named head of state in Ethiopia. He will rule Ethiopia and be backed by the Soviet government until he loses the civil war in 1991 to the forces supporting Meles Zenawi.
1989 - Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris becomes the first woman consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, in a ceremony held in Boston.
1990 - Nelson Mandela is released from prison after being held for nearly 27 years without trial by the South African government. The founder and unofficial leader of the African National Congress, Mandela became, during his imprisonment, a symbol for the struggle of black South Africans to overcome apartheid.
1990 - James "Buster" Douglas defeats Mike Tyson in a stunning upset in Tokyo to win the heavyweight boxing championship. Almost two years later to the day, Tyson will be convicted of rape and two related charges filed by a Miss Black America contestant in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1793 - Congress makes it a crime to hide or protect a runaway slave by passing the first fugitive slave law.
1865 - Henry Highland Garnet, preacher and abolitionist, becomes the first African American to preach in the rotunda of the Capitol to the House of Representatives. It is on the occasion of a Lincoln birthday memorial.
1896 - Isaac Burns Murphy, considered the greatest American jockey of all time, joins the ancestors. He was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby two years in a row and became the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times. In 1955, Isaac Murphy was the first jockey voted into the Jockey Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Racing, in Saratoga Springs, New York.
1900 - For a Lincoln birthday celebration, James Weldon Johnson writes the lyrics for "Lift Every Voice and Sing." With music by his brother, J. Rosamond, the song is first sung by 500 children in Jacksonville, Florida. It will become known as the "Negro National Anthem."
1909 - When six African Americans were killed and 200 others driven out of town in race riots in Springfield, Illinois in the summer of 1908, many Americans were shocked, because they associated such violence only with racism in the south. Springfield was not only a northern city, but the home of Abraham Lincoln. Three people, Mary Ovington, William E. Walling, and Dr. Henry Moskowitz, alarmed at the deterioration of race relations, decided to open a campaign to oppose the pervasive discrimination against racial minorities. They issue a call for a national conference on "the Negro question", and for its symbolic value, they will choose the centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, February 12, 1909, as the date for the conference. Held in New York City, it will draw an interracial group of 60 distinguished citizens, who will formulate plans for a permanent organization devoted to fighting all forms of racial discrimination. That organization will be the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The NAACP will be the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the U.S. With more than 2,200 branches across the country, it will be in the forefront of the struggle for voting rights, and an end to discrimination in housing, employment, and education.
1934 - William Felton "Bill" Russell is born in Monroe, Louisiana. He will become a star basketball player and high jumper at the University of San Francisco. After college, he will win a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics, as a member of the United States basketball team. He will then play professional basketball for the Boston Celtics for thirteen seasons, winning eight straight NBA titles and eleven championships. At the end of the 1965-66 season, he will become the coach of the Boston Celtics.
1983 - Eubie Blake joins the ancestors at the age of 100 in Brooklyn, New York. Blake was one of the last ragtime pianists and composers whose most famous songs included "I'm Just Wild About Harry." With Noble Sissle, Blake was the composer of the first all-African American Broadway musical, "Shuffle Along," which opened on Broadway in 1921.
1818 - The first African American Episcopal priest ordained in the United States, Absalom Jones, joins the ancestors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was an instrumental force in the development of the early African American church and benevolent society movements.
1882 - Henry Highland Garnet, abolitionist, preacher, diplomat and protest leader, joins the ancestors in Monrovia, Liberia at the age of 66.
1892 - The first African American performers, the World's Fair Colored Opera Company, appear at New York City's Carnegie Hall less than one year after the hall's opening. In the company is concert singer Matilda Sissieretta Jones, who will have her solo debut at Carnegie Hall two years later.
1907 - Wendell P. Dabney establishes "The Union." The Cincinnati, Ohio paper's motto is "For no people can become great without being united, for in union, there is strength."
1919 - Eddie Robinson is born. He will accept the head coaching position in 1941, at the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute in Grambling, Louisiana (later named Grambling State University. Over the next 54 years, he will become the winningest college football coach. On October 7, 1995, he will win his 400th game, establishing a record and securing his status as a legend. Sports Illustrated will place Robinson on the cover of its October 14, 1995 issue, making him the first and only coach of an historically Black university to appear on the cover of any major sports publication in the United States. To his credit, he will produce 113 NFL players, including four Pro Football Hall of Famers.
1920 - The National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs is founded by Andrew "Rube" Foster. They will be called the Negro National League. It will become the first successful African American professional baseball league. Two other leagues had previously been started, but failed to last more than one season.
1923 - The first African American professional basketball team "The Renaissance" is organized by Robert J. Douglas. It is named after its home court, the Renaissance Casino. They will play from 1923 to 1939 and have a record of 1,588 wins against 239 losses. They will become the first African American team in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
1957 - The Southern Leadership Conference is founded at a meeting of ministers in New Orleans, Louisiana. Martin Luther King, Jr. is elected its first president. Later in the year its name will be changed to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
1976 - General Murtala Mohammed, head of Nigeria, who came to power in 1975 after General Gowon is ousted, joins the ancestors after being killed in an unsuccessful counter-coup. His chief of staff, General Olusegun Obasanjo, will assume Mohammed's post and his promise to hand over political power to civilian rule.
1996 - Minister Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam, visits Iran to celebrate its 1979 revolution ousting the Shah.
1760 - Richard Allen, is born into slavery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will purchase his freedom in 1786 and will become a preacher the same year. He will become the first African American ordained in the Methodist Episcopal Church (1799), and founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1816, and first bishop of the AME Church. He will join the ancestors on March 26, 1831.
1818 - The birth of Frederick Douglass in Tuckahoe (Talbot County), Maryland, is attributed to this date. He will state, "I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it... and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant." He will be a great African American leader and "one of the giants of nineteenth century America. He was born Frederick Bailey and will change his name to Douglass after he escapes slavery in 1838. He will join the ancestors on February 20, 1895 in Washington, DC.
1867 - Morehouse College is organized in Augusta, Georgia. The school will be moved later to Atlanta.
1867 - New registration law in Tennessee abolishes racial distinctions in voting.
1936 - The National Negro Congress is organized at a Chicago meeting attended by eight hundred seventeen delegates representing more than five hundred organizations. Asa Phillip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is elected president of the new organization.
1946 - Gregory Hines is born in New York City. A child tap-dancing star in the group Hines, Hines, and Dad, Hines will lead a new generation of tap dancers that will benefit from the advice and teaching of such tap legends as Henry Le Tang, "Honi" Coles, Sandman Sims, the Nicholas Brothers, and Sammy Davis, Jr. Hines will also become a successful actor in movies including "White Knights," "Tap," and "A Rage in Harlem."
1951 - Sugar Ray Robinson defeats Jake LaMotta and wins the middleweight boxing title.
1957 - Lionel Hampton's only major musical work, "King David", makes its debut at New York's Town Hall. The four-part symphony jazz suite was conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos.
1966 - Wilt Chamberlain breaks the NBA career scoring record at 20,884 points after only seven seasons as a pro basketball player.
1978 - Maxima Corporation, a computer systems and management company, is incorporated. Headquartered in Lanham, Maryland, it will become one of the largest African American-owned companies and earn its founder, chairman and CEO, Joshua I. Smith, chairmanship of the U.S. Commission on Minority Business Development.
1848 - Sarah Roberts is barred from a white school in Boston, Massachusetts. Her father, Benjamin Roberts, files the first school integration suit on her behalf.
1851 - Black abolitionists invade a Boston courtroom and rescue a fugitive slave from authorities.
1960 - Darrell Green is born. He will become a professional football player with the Washington Redskins. He will, for years, be a defensive threat and the fastest man in the NFL.
1961 - U.S. and African Nationalists protesting the slaying of Congo Premier Patrice Lumumba disrupt United Nations sessions.
1964 - Louis Armstrong's "Hello Dolly," a song the world-renowned trumpeter recorded and almost forgot, becomes the number-one record on Billboard's Top 40 charts, replacing The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand." It is Armstrong's first and only number-one record.
1965 - Nat King Cole, singer and pianist, joins the ancestors in Santa Monica, California at the age of 45. He succumbs to lung cancer.
1968 - Henry Lewis becomes the first African American to lead a symphony orchestra in the United States when he is named director of the New Jersey Symphony.
1969 - Noted historian John Henrik Clarke, speaking before the Jewish Currents Conference in New York City, says, "You cannot subjugate a man and recognize his humanity, his history...so systematically you must take this away from him. You begin by telling lies about the man's role in history."
1978 - Leon Spinks defeats Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight boxing championship in a 15-round decision in Las Vegas, Nevada.
1992 - At memorial services attended by over 1,600 in Memphis, Tennessee, author Alex Haley ("Roots," "Autobiography of Malcolm X") is eulogized by his wife, who says, "Thank you, Alex, you have helped us know who we truly are."
1992 - NAACP Executive Director, Benjamin L. Hooks, announces that he would retire from the organization in 1993. He will head the organization for sixteen years.
1999 - The body of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African gunned down by New York City police, is returned to his native Guinea.
Updated by K. Ferguson Kelly: December 08, 2012