16 -29 February in Black History
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1801 - The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church officially separates from its parent, the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Zion church will be incorporated as the African Episcopal Church of the City of New York. James Varick will be its first pastor and will later become the first black African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) bishop. It will hold its first national conference in 1821. The name Zion will not be added to the church's name until 1848.
1874 - Frederick Douglass is elected President of Freedman's Bank and Trust Company.
1923 - Bessie Smith makes her first recording for Columbia Records. The record, "Down Hearted Blues," written by Alberta Hunter and Lovie Austin, will sell an incredible 800,000 copies and be Columbia's first popular hit.
1951 - James Ingram is born in Akron, Ohio. He will be raised there on Kelly Avenue. He will later become a rhythm and blues singer and will earn at least three Grammy Awards and seventeen Grammy nominations.
1951 - The New York City Council passes a bill prohibiting racial discrimination in city-assisted housing developments.
1957 - LeVar Burton is born in Landstuhl, Germany. He will become an actor, winning a landmark role in the award-winning miniseries, "Roots," as the enslaved African youth Kunta Kinte, while attending USC. He will go on to become a producer, director and writer for numerous television series and films.
1970 - Joe Frazier knocks outs Jimmy Ellis in the second round to become the undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion.
1972 - Wilt Chamberlain scores his 30,000th point in his 940th game, a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns. He is the first player in the NBA to score 30,000 points.
1992 - The Los Angeles Lakers retire Magic Johnson's uniform, # 32.
1999 - Mary Elizabeth Roche, best known as Betty Roche, joins the ancestors at the age of 81 in Pleasantville, New Jersey. She was a singer who performed with Duke Ellington in the 1940s and 1950s. She sang with the Savoy Sultans from 1941 to 1943, when she joined Ellington's group. She scored high marks from critics for the suite "Black, Brown and Beige," at Ellington's first Carnegie Hall concert. She also performed Ellington's signature song "Take the A Train" in the 1943 film. "Reveille With Beverly."
1870 - Congress passes a resolution readmitting Mississippi to the Union on the condition that it will never change its constitution to disenfranchise African Americans.
1918 - Charles Hayes is born in Cairo, Illinois. He will be elected to the House of Representatives succeeding Harold Washington in 1983.
1933 - Bobby Lewis is born. He will become a Rhythm and Blues singer, who will be at his peak in the 1960's, and will be best-known for his recordings of "Tossin' & Turnin'," and "One Track Mind."
1936 - Jim Brown is born in Saint Simons, Georgia. He will be considered one of the greatest offensive backs in the history of football, establishing records with the Cleveland Browns, for most yards gained and most touchdowns. Brown will also develop a film career, establish the Negro Industrial and Economic Union, and work with African American youth.
1938 - Mary Frances Berry is born in Nashville, Tennessee. She will be an influential force in education and civil rights, become the first woman of any race to serve as chancellor of a major research university (University of Colorado in 1976), and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
1941 - Joe Louis retains his world heavyweight boxing crown by knocking out Gus Dorazio.
1942 - Huey P. Newton, a co-founder and minister of defense for the Black Panther Party, is born in Monroe, Louisiana.
1962 - Wilt Chamberlain, of the NBA Philadelphia Warriors, scores 67 points against St. Louis.
1963 - Michael Jeffrey Jordan, who will be a star basketball player for the University of North Carolina, the 1984 Olympic gold medal team and the Chicago Bulls, is born in Brooklyn, New York. Jordan's phenomenal style and scoring ability will earn him universal acclaim and selection on more than eight all-star NBA teams and NBA Most Valuable Player more than four times.
1982 - Thelonious Monk, jazz pianist and composer, joins the ancestors at the age of 64.
1989 - The African countries of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia & Libya form an economic common market.
1997 - The Virginia House of Delegates votes unanimously to retire the state song, "Carry me back to Old Virginny," a tune which glorifies the institution of slavery.
1688 - The first formal protest against slavery by an organized white body in the English American colonies is made by Germantown, Pennsylvania Quakers and Mennonites at a monthly meeting. The historic "Germantown Protest" denounces slavery and the slave trade.
1865 - Confederate Troops abandon Charleston, South Carolina. The first Union troops to enter the city include the Twenty-first U.S. Colored Troops, followed by two companies of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers.
1867 - The Augusta Institute is founded in Georgia. It is established as an institution of higher learning for African American students, and moves to Atlanta in 1879. In 1913, the name is changed to Morehouse College.
1894 - Paul Revere Williams is born in Los Angeles, California. He will become one of the most famous African American architects, designer of private residences in Los Angeles, the Hollywood YMCA, the Beverly-Wiltshire Hotel, UCLA's Botany Building and many others. Among his many awards will be the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in 1953.
1931 - Toni Morrison is born in Lorain, Ohio. She will become one of the most celebrated modern novelists of the 20th century, winning the National Book Critics Award in 1978 for "Song of Solomon" and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for "Beloved." In 1993, she will become the first African American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
1965 - The Gambia gains its independence from Great Britain.
1973 - Palmer Hayden joins the ancestors in New York City. One of the principal artists of the Harlem Renaissance who, like Henry 0. Tanner and others, studied in Paris, his most enduring work often depicted everyday scenes of African American life.
1979 - The miniseries "Roots: The Next Generations" premiers on ABC TV.
1995 - The NAACP replaces veteran chairman William Gibson with Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, after the rank-and-file declared no confidence in Gibson's leadership.
1919 - The first Pan-African Congress, organized by W.E.B. Dubois, opens in Paris. Fifty-seven delegates from 16 countries and colonies will meet for three days and declare "The natives of Africa must be allowed to participate in the government as fast as their development permits." Blaise Diagne of Senegal is elected president and Dubois is named secretary.
1940 - William "Smokey" Robinson is born in Detroit, Michigan. As part of the Motown group "The Miracles" and in his solo career, Robinson will be an enduring Rhythm and Blues and pop performer. He will also become a Vice-President of Motown Records.
1959 - Gabon adopts its constitution.
1987 - A racially motivated civil disturbance erupts in Tampa, Florida, after a young African American man dies from injuries resulting from a police chokehold.
1992 - John Singleton is nominated for two Academy Awards for best director and best screenplay for his first film, "Boyz N the Hood." Singleton is the first African-American director ever to be nominated for the Academy Award.
1995 - A day after being named the new chairwoman of the NAACP, Myrlie Evers-Williams outlines her plans for revitalizing the civil rights organization, saying she intended to take the group back to its roots.
1999 - President Bill Clinton posthumously pardons Henry O. Flipper. Flipper was the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Flipper was acquitted on charges of embezzlement of commissary funds, but was found guilty of "conduct unbecoming an officer" for lying to investigators. He received a dishonorable discharge in 1882. He had been a victim of racism from the time he went to West Point to the time he was railroaded out of the military. Mr. Flipper joined the ancestors in 1940 at the age of 84.
1864 - Confederate troops defeat three African American and six white regiments at the Battle of Olustee, about fifty miles from Jacksonville, Florida. The African-American units are the 8th U.S. Colored Troops, the 35th U.S. Colored Infantry, and the famous 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry. It is the 54th Massachusetts' fighting that allowed General Truman Seymour's Union forces to retreat. One white veteran of the battle states: " The colored troops went in grandly, and they fought like devils." A regrettable episode in the aftermath of the battle is the apparent mistreatment of Union African American soldiers by the Confederates.
1895 - Frederick Douglass, famous African American abolitionist and diplomat, joins the ancestors in Washington, DC at the age of 78. His home in Washington will be later turned into a national monument under the auspices of the National Park Service.
1911 - Frances Ellen Watkins Harper joins the ancestors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the age of 85. She had been a writer and antislavery, women's rights, and temperance activist.
1925 - Alex La Guma is born in Cape Town, South Africa. He will become a novelist whose writings reflect the lives of the ghetto dwellers in the 'Coloured' sections of Capetown, portrayed best in his novel, "A Walk in the Night." The ghettos and shanties of the Cape were his milieu, and he will never depict the lives of the impoverished with either rancor or self-pity. The powerful strokes of his pen will paint a picture of the starkness and reality of their lives. He allowed the tin and hessian fabrics of the rat-infested, leaking hovels to spell it out. He will become involved with the South African Coloured People's Organisation, playing a very active part in its affairs. He will be exiled in 1966 and move with his family to London. At the time he joins the ancestors in 1985, he was the Chief Representative of the African National Congress in Cuba.
1927 - Sidney Poitier is born prematurely in Miami, Florida, weighing only three pounds. His parents are on a regular trip to the U.S. to sell tomatoes and other produce. He will be raised in the Bahamas and return to the United States as a teenager to live with his older brother in Miami. He will move to New York City in 1945 to study acting. He will become one of the modern movies' leading men, making his screen debut in 1950 and earning praise in such films as "Cry the Beloved Country," "Blackboard Jungle," "Porgy and Bess," "A Raisin in the Sun," "To Sir With Love," "In the Heat of the Night," and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." His 1965 role in "Lilies of the Field" will earn him an Oscar, the first for an African American in a leading role.
1929 - Writer Wallace Thurman's play "Harlem" opens in New York City. It is the first successful play by an African American playwright.
1936 - John Hope, president of Atlanta University, joins the ancestors at the age of sixty seven.
1937 - Nancy Wilson is born in Chillicothe, Ohio. She will become a well-known jazz and pop singer, singing with Cannonball Adderly, George Shearing, Art Farmer and Chick Corea, among others. She will make more than 50 albums, including "With My Lover Beside Me," featuring the lyrics of Johnny Mercer and the music of Barry Manilow.
1951 - Emmett L. Ashford, one of baseball's most popular figures, becomes the first African American umpire in organized baseball. Ashford is certified to be a substitute in the Southwestern International League. He will later (1966) become the first African American major league umpire, working in the American League.
1963 - Baseball great, Willie "The Say Hey Kid" Mays, signs with the San Francisco Giants as baseball's highest paid player (at that time). He will earn $100,000 a year.
1963 - Charles Barkley is born in Leeds, Alabama. He will forego his senior year at Auburn University to enter the NBA as a forward for the Philadelphia 76ers. Barkley will post averages of 20 or more points and at least 10 rebounds per game for 11 seasons. His achievements during that span will be remarkable. He will be an All-NBA First Team selection in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993, an All-NBA Second Team pick in 1986, 1987, 1992, 1994 and 1995 and an All-NBA Third Team choice in 1996. He will be selected to 10 consecutive All-Star Games, and receive more All Star votes than any other player in 1994, and will be MVP in the 1991 All-Star classic.
1968 - State troopers use tear gas to stop civil rights demonstrations at Alcorn A&M College in Mississippi.
1991 - African Americans win Grammys including Mariah Carey for Best New Artist and female pop vocal, Anita Baker for female R&B vocal, Luther Vandross for male R&B vocal, Living Colour for best hard rock performance, M.C. Hammer for best rap solo and best R&B song for "U Can't Touch This," and Chaka Khan and Ray Charles for best R&B vocal by a duo or group. Quincy Jones becomes the all-time non-classical Grammy winner when he wins six awards at these 33rd annual Grammy Awards, including album of the year, "Back on the Block."
1997 - T. Uriah Butler joins the ancestors in Fyzabad, Trinidad at the age of 100. Born in Grenada, he had been a major labor organizer and politician in Trinidad. In 1975, he was awarded Trinidad's highest honor, The Trinity Cross.
1864 - Saint Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore, Maryland is dedicated. It is the first exclusively African American parish in the United States.
1895 - The North Carolina Legislature adjourns for the day to mark the death of Frederick Douglass.
1933 - Eunice Waymon (Nina Simone) is born in Tryon, North Carolina. She will begin her entertaining career in 1954 and bolstered by critical praise for her 1959 recording of "I Loves You, Porgy," she will tour in the U.S. and Europe during the 1960's and early 1970's. Returning to the concert stage and recording studio in 1977, she will be called the "High Priestess of Soul." She will record rarely in the 1970's and 1980's, but will experience a career comeback in the United States with her 1993 album release, "A Single Woman."
1936 - Barbara Jordan is born in Houston, Texas. The first African American state senator in the Texas legislature since 1883 and a three-term congresswoman, she will play a key role in the 1974 Watergate hearings. In 1976, she will be the first woman and first African American to make a keynote speech before the Democratic National Convention. She will join the ancestors on January 17, 1996 in Austin, Texas.
1940 - John Lewis is born in Troy, Alabama. He will become founder and chairman of SNCC, organizer of the Selma-to-Montgomery March in 1965, executive director of the Voter Education Project, and congressman from Georgia's 5th District. Lewis' power will continue to be felt when he is named Democratic deputy whip by Speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley in 1991.
1965 - El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) joins the ancestors after being assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem at the age of 39. He was best known for his doctrine of self-determination for African American people, including their right to fight for their rights and protect themselves in a hostile America by "whatever means necessary."
1976 - Florence Ballard, one of the original Supremes, joins the ancestors in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of 32. Ballard had said that she never received a royalty check prior to 1967 for any of her work with the Supremes, who featured Diana Ross and included Mary Wilson.
1998 - Julian Bond, civil rights leader from the 1960's, former Georgia state legislator, and college professor, becomes the new chairperson of the NAACP.
1841 - Grafton Tyler Brown is born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A lithographer and painter, he will be considered to be one of the first African-American artists in California. His paintings will be collected by the Oakland (California) Museum of Art, Washington State Museum, and private individuals.
1865 - Tennesee adopts a new constitution abolishing slavery. This will allow Tennessee to become the first former confederate state to be re-admitted to the Union.
1888 - Horace Pippin is born in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His right arm crippled in World War I (where he will earn a Purple Heart), Pippin will paint holding the wrist of his practically useless right arm in his left fist. The self-taught artist will win wide acclaim for the primitive style and strong emotional content of his work.
1898 - The African American postmaster of Lake City, South Carolina is lynched. His wife and three daughters are shot and maimed for life.
1906 - African American evangelist William J. Seymour first arrives in Los Angeles and begins holding revival meetings. The "Azusa Street Revival" later broke out under Seymour's leadership, in the Apostolic Faith Mission located at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles. It will be one of the pioneering events in the history of 20th century American Pentecostalism.
1921 - Jean-Bedel Bokassa I is born in Bobangul, Oubangul-Chari, French Equatorial Africa (present-day Central African Republic). He will become a career soldier who will seize power from President David Dacko in a 1965 coup. In 1972 he will proclaim himself president-for-life, ruling the country with brutal repression, using its revenues for personal enrichment, and crowning himself emperor in 1976. He will be deposed in September 1979 and was imprisoned for murder in 1986 after seven years in exile. He will be pardoned in 1993 and will join the ancestors in 1996 at the age of 75.
1938 - Ishmael Reed is born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He will become a poet (nominated for the National Book Award for "Conjure"), novelist ("Yellow Back," "Radio Broke Down," "Mumbo Jumbo," "Flight to Canada"), and anthologist of the well-received "19 Necromancers from Now" and "The Yardbird Reader, Volume I."
1940 - Chet Walker is born. He will begin his NBA All-Star career with the Philadelphia '76ers in 1963, averaging 17.3 points per game. The highlight of his career will be capturing the NBA title in 1967 on a team that included Wilt Chamberlain. The 76ers will defeat the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Division finals, preventing them from going to their ninth straight NBA final.
1950 - Julius Erving is born in Roosevelt (town of Hempstead), New York. He will become a star basketball player, first for the ABA's Virginia Squires and later for the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. Known as "Dr. J.," he will become the third pro player to score more than 30,000 career points (after Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). He will be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.
1962 - Wilt Chamberlain sets a NBA record with 34 free throw attempts.
1979 - St. Lucia gains its independence from Great Britain.
1989 - "Don't Worry, Be Happy", by Bobby McFerrin, wins the Grammy for Song of the Year.
1763 - A major slave rebellion occurs in the Dutch South American colony of Berbice (part of present-day Guyana). Slaves, led by Cuffy, Atta, Accara, and others, fire a rebellion at Plantation Magalenenburg because of the harsh and inhumane treatment of the slave population. Cuffy, proclaims himself Governor of Berbice and orders the Dutch Governor, Hoogenheim, to leave with the white inhabitants. The slaves will control the territory for months. Major resistance will continue beyond October, 4th. There will be a split at the leadership level of the rebellion. The final collapse of the revolution will occur just before the trial of the last resisters on March 16, 1764.
1868 - William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois is born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He will become one of the greatest men of letters of his time, serving as an editor, teacher, political theorist, and novelist. His accomplishments will include founding and editing the NAACP "Crisis Magazine," writing the influential "Souls of Black Folk," being one of the founding fathers of the NAACP, and the first African American to become a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
1942 - Don Lee is born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He will become a major African American literary critic, author of nonfiction and poetry, and founder of the influential Third World Press known as Haki Madhubuti. The Chicago State University professor, poet, and publisher will score a hit for his Third World Press with his own "Groundwork: Selected and New Poems 1966-1996." "Groundwork" and the second volume of Gwendolyn Brooks' autobiography-along with continuing sales of Madhubuti's 1995 "Million Man March/Day of Absence", will increase the number of successful titles at Third World Press to 25 by 1997.
1964 - Roberto Martin Antonio "Bobby" Bonilla is born in New York City. He will become a major league baseball player in 1981 and will play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, and the Baltimore Orioles, before ending up with the Florida Marlins in 1996.
1968 - Wilt Chamberlain becomes the first NBA player to score 25,000 points.
1970 - Guyana becomes a republic. The Republic of Guyana changes its name to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. February 23 is chosen to celebrate the start of the Berbice Slave Revolt of 1763, which was led by Cuffy, a slave who became a national hero. One of the first actions of the new republic will be to nationalize foreign-owned companies.
1977 - "Roots," an adaptation of Alex Haley's best-selling novel, is viewed by more Americans than any other program since the invention of television. Approximately 130 million people watched at least part of the series. The final episode was watched by a reported 80 million viewers. Alex Haley spent twelve years researching and writing the book. While the show attracted many African American viewers, ratings companies reported that millions of whites as well as African Americans watched the show.
1979 - Colonel Frank E. Peterson, Jr. becomes the first African American promoted to the rank of general in the Marine Corps. He also was the first African American pilot to win Marine Corps wings. He will retire in 1988 as commanding general of the Marine Development Education Command in Quantico, Virginia.
1990 - Comer J. Cottrell, President of Pro-Line Corporation, pays $1.5 million for the Bishop College campus, traditionally an African American college, in a bankruptcy auction. Cottrell's actions result in the relocation of Paul Quinn College in Waco, another African American campus, to the Dallas site.
1999 - Hughie Lee-Smith, a painter and former teacher at the Art Students League in New York, joins the ancestors after succumbing to cancer at the age of 83 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lee-Smith was known for his paintings that frequently included symbolic figurative scenes. His works often included settings suggestive of theater stages or bleak urban or seaside landscapes. In 1953, he won a prize for his work from the Detroit Institute of Arts. While serving in the Navy he did a mural titled, "History of the Negro in the U.S. Navy." He taught at the Art Students League for 15 years, beginning in 1958. In 1963, he became the second African American member elected to the National Academy of Design in New York City. He became a full member four years later. His paintings are in many public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City.
1999 - A jury in Jasper, Texas convicts white supremacist John William King of murder in the gruesome dragging death of an African American man, James Byrd Jr. King will be sentenced to death two days later.
1811 - The first African American to become a college president (Wilberforce University in Ohio - 1863), Daniel A. Payne, is born in Charleston, South Carolina. He will become an educator, clergyman, bishop, and historian of the AME Church.
1842 - James Forten, Sr. joins the ancestors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A businessman who amassed a fortune as a sail maker, Forten was one of the most influential abolitionists of the first half of the 19th century. He also was in the midst of many significant events and was one of Philadelphia's most prominent African Americans. He was chairman of the first Negro Convention in 1835, helped to organize the 1st African Lodge of Free Masons in Philadelphia (1787), and one of the founders of the Free African Society (1787 - which grew into St. Thomas African Episcopal Church).
1940 - Jimmy Ellis is born in Louisville, Kentucky. He will become a national Golden Gloves champion and will go on to become the WBA heavyweight boxing champion from 1968 to 1970. At 197 pounds, he will be the lightest man to win the heavyweight title in the past 35 years.
1956 - Eddie Murray is born in Los Angeles, California. He will become a professional baseball player, winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1977. Over his career, he will hit over 500 career home runs. That will make him the fifteenth player in baseball history to reach that milestone, and will join Willie Mays and Henry Aaron as the only players with 500 home runs and 3000 hits. Murray currently ranks eleventh all time in hits (3,203), eighth in RBI (1,888), and ninth in games played (2,950).
1966 - Military leaders oust Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana - while on a peace mission, in Peking, to stop the Vietnam War.
1980 - Willie Davenport and Jeff Gadley, the first African Americans to represent the United States in the Winter Olympics, place 12th in the four-man bobsled competition. Davenport had been a medal winner in the 1968 and 1976 Summer Games.
1982 - Quincy Jones wins five Grammys for "The Dude," including 'Producer of the Year.'
1987 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers scores his first three-point shot. The leading scorer in NBA history had already scored 36,000 points. Kareem had never scored more than two points at a time.
1992 - Edward Perkins is nominated United Nations ambassador by President George Bush. Perkins had formerly served as director-general of the United States Foreign Service and ambassador to the Republic of South Africa.
1867 - Tennessee Gov. William Gannaway Brownlow issues a proclamation warning that the unlawful events of the Ku Klux Klan "must and SHALL cease" and that militia would be immediately organized against the organization. This is in response to Ku Klux Klan activities in a nine county area. The Klan's aim is to reverse the interlocking changes sweeping over the South during the Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican's party's infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life. (Editor's Note: The KKK was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee on December 15, 1865)
1870 - Hiram Rhoades Revels of Mississippi becomes the first African American Senator. He is elected by the Mississippi legislature to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jefferson Davis. After the Senate term expires, he will become the first President of Alcorn A&M College, in Lorman, Mississippi (the first African American land-grant institution in the United States).
1948 - Martin Luther King, Jr. is ordained as a Baptist minister. After graduating from Morehouse College in June, 1948, he will enter the Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania.
1964 - Twenty-two year old Cassius Clay becomes world heavyweight boxing champion when he defeats Sonny Liston in Miami, Florida. The feared Liston is the favorite, but Clay predicts he will "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Soon after his victory, Clay will assume his Muslim name of Muhammad Ali. He will be considered by many, the greatest heavyweight champion of all time.
1978 - Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr. joins the ancestors at the age of 58 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. James was an early graduate of the Tuskegee Institute Flying School and flew more than 100 missions during the Korean War. He was the first African American to achieve the rank of four-star general.
1980 - Robert E. Hayden, African American poet and former poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, joins the ancestors in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hayden's most notable works include "Words in Mourning Time and Angle of Ascent: New and Selected Poems."
1991 - Adrienne Mitchell becomes the first African American woman to die in a combat zone in the Persian Gulf War when she joins the ancestors after being killed in her military barracks in Dharan, Saudi Arabia.
1992 - Natalie Cole, Patti LaBelle, Lisa Fischer, Luther Vandross, B.B. King, Boyz II Men, and James Brown, among others, win Grammy awards in ceremonies hosted by Whoopi Goldberg.
1999 - A jury in Jasper, Texas, sentences white supremacist John William King to death for chaining James Byrd Jr., an African American man, to a pickup truck and dragging him to pieces.
2000 - The killers of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo, four white New York police officers, are acquitted of all charges by a jury in Albany, New York. Diallo had been fired upon 41 times, with 19 shots hitting him while holding only his wallet in the vestible of his own home.
1844 - James Edward O'Hara is born in New York City to an Irish merchant and a West Indian woman. He will move to North Carolina after completing his basic education. After studying law at Howard University, he will be admitted to the North Carolina bar and become a practicing attorney in Halifax county and active in state politics. He will later become a two-term United States Congressman from North Carolina, serving in the forty-eighth and forty-ninth congress.
1870 - Wyatt Outlaw, Town Commissioner in Graham, North
Carolina, joins the ancestors after being executed (lynched) by the "White
Brotherhood," The Ku Klux Klan. He was president of the Alamance County Union
League of America (an anti Ku Klux Klan group), helped to establish the Republican party
in North Carolina and advocated establishing a school for African Americans. The Klan will
hang him from an oak tree near the Alamance County Courthouse. Dozens of Klansmen
will be arrested for the murders of Outlaw and other African Americans in Alamance and
Caswell Counties. Many of the arrested men will confess, but, despite protests by Governor
William W. Holden, a federal judge in Salisbury will ordered them released.
1926 - Dr. Carter G. Woodson starts Negro History Week. This will be expanded to Black History Month in 1976.
1926 - Theodore "Tiger"(The Georgia Deacon) Flowers becomes the first African American middleweight champion of the world. He will defeat Harry Greb in fifteen rounds to win the title in New York City.
1928 - Antoine "Fats" Domino is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will be a pioneering Rhythm & Blues pianist whose hits will include "Ain't That A Shame" and "Blueberry Hill."
1930 - "The Green Pastures" opens on Broadway at the Mansfield Theater with Richard B. Harrison as "De Lawd."
1946 - A race riot in Columbia, Tennessee results in two deaths and ten injured persons.
1964 - Boxer Cassius Clay converts to Islam, adopting the name Muhammad Ali, saying, "I believe in the religion of Islam...believe in Allah and peace..."
1965 - During civil rights demonstrations in Selma, Alabama, that were designed to get the attention of the Johnson administration in Washington, DC, police violence erupts against the marchers. In an effort to protect his mother from a beating, 26 year old Jimmie Lee Jackson strikes a police officer. He will join the ancestors after being shot and killed. Civil rights activists, outraged by his death, will plan a march from the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to Montgomery.
1966 - Andrew Brimmer becomes the first African American governor of the Federal Reserve Board when he is appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
1984 - Rev. Jesse Jackson acknowledges that he referred to New York City as "Hymietown."
1985 - At the 27th Grammy Awards, Best Album of the Year for "Can't Slow Down", is presented to Lionel Richie. Tina Turner is a big winner with Best Song, Best Record and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Female for "What's Love Got to Do with It."
1844 - The Dominican Republic gains its independence from Haiti, which had occupied the whole island of Hispaniola since 1822. Prior to Haitian rule, France had administered the eastern part of the island starting in 1795, when Spain ceded the territory to France. The leader of Dominican independence against Haiti was Juan Pablo Duarte.
1869 - John Willis Menard, the first African American elected to Congress in 1868, is never seated. When he pleads his own case before the House of Representatives, he becomes the first African American to speak on the floor of the House.
1872 - Charlotte Ray graduates from Howard Law School in Washington, DC. She will become the first African American woman lawyer in the United States and the third woman admitted to the bar to practice law (April 23, 1872).
1897 - Marian Anderson is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She will become the first modern African American to win international renown as an opera singer and will be considered one of the great operatic voices of the century. Singing at a time of great social upheaval for African Americans, Anderson's professional career will contain many operatic and civil rights milestones and recognition, including Kennedy Center Honors in 1978. The Kennedy Center will hold a gala in observance of the 100th anniversary of her birth in 1997. Many sources, including the "Encyclopedia Britannica" and "Africana" have her birth year as 1902 or 1900. According to her nephew (with whom she lived until her death), when she became the first African American to sing a principal role with the Metropolitan Opera, her publicist thought her age should be reduced by five years. The media therefore, establishes her birth year erroneously as 1902.
1942 - Charlayne Hunter is born in Due West, South Carolina. One of the first students to integrate the University of Georgia, Charlayne Hunter-Gault will become a print and broadcast journalist and win two Emmy awards for her work on public TV's "The MacNeil/Lehrer News-Hour."
1961 - James Worthy is born in Gastonia, North Carolina. He will become a starting forward for the Los Angeles Lakers. He will be selected as the 1988 NBA Playoff Most Valuable Player. He will play with three NBA championship Laker teams(1985, 1987, 1988).
1967 - Antigua & St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla become associated states of the United Kingdom.
1967 - Dominica gains its independence from England.
1988 - Debi Thomas, a world-class figure skater, wins a bronze medal in the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. She is the first African American to win a medal in the Winter Games.
1992 - Eldrick "Tiger" Woods is the youngest amateur golfer in 35 years to play in a PGA tournament when he tees off at the Los Angeles Open at the age of 16.
1999 - The Rev. Henry Lyons, president of the National Baptist Convention USA, is convicted in Largo, Florida, of swindling millions of dollars from companies seeking to do business with his followers.
1999 - Nigerians vote to elect Olusegun Obasanjo their new president as the country marks the final phase of its return to democracy.
1704 - A school for African Americans is opened in New
York City by Elias Neau, a Frenchman.
1708 - A slave revolt occurs in Newton, Long Island in New York State. Seven whites are killed. Two African American male slaves and an Indian slave are hanged, and an African American woman is burned alive.
1776 - George Washington, in his letter of acknowledgment to Phyllis Wheatley for a poem she wrote for his birthday, says, "I thank you most sincerely for...the elegant line you enclosed...the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your poetic talents."
1778 - Rhode Island General Assembly in precedent-breaking act authorizes the enlistment of slaves.
1784 - Phyllis Wheatley, poet, joins the ancestors.
1854 - Some 50 slavery opponents meet in Ripon, Wisconsin, to call for the creation of a new political group, which will become the Republican Party.
1859 - Arkansas legislature requires free African Americans to choose between exile and enslavement.
1871 - Second Enforcement Act gave federal officers and courts control of registration and voting in congressional elections.
1942 - Riots against African Americans occur in Detroit, Michigan at the Sojourner Truth Homes.
1943 - "Porgy and Bess" opens on Broadway with Anne Brown and Todd Duncan in starring roles.
1945 - Charles "Bubba" Smith is born in Beaumont, Texas. He will become a professional football player with the Baltimore Colts, Oakland Raiders and the Houston Oilers. After a successful football career, he will become an actor in the "Police Academy" series. He also will become the president and CEO of Vital Aircraft Company, which solicits the Department of Defense for government contracts. To illustrate his enduring interest in education and work with children, he will endow an engineering scholarship at his alma mater, Michigan State University.
1956 - Adrian Dantley is born. He will become a professional basketball player and star with the Utah Jazz. He will be their top scorer in 1981 and 1984.
1962 - Rae Dawn Chong is born in Edmonton, Alberta. She will become an actress in movies like "Quest for Fire."
1967 - Wilt Chamberlain sets a NBA record with his 35th consecutive field goal.
1968 - Frankie Lymon, a Rock and Roll singer who became a star with his teenage group, "The Teenagers," joins the ancestors at the age of 25 after a drug overdose.
1977 - Eddie "Rochester" Anderson joins the ancestors at the age of 71. Born in Oakland, California, to a theatrical family, Anderson's guest appearance in a 1937 Jack Benny Easter show grew to be a 30-year career on the popular radio, and later television, program.
1991 - "The Content of our Character," the controversial book on affirmative action and race relations by Shelby Steele, wins the National Book Critics Circle Award.
1998 - Todd Duncan joins the ancestors at his home in Washington, DC, at the age 95. His ascension is on the fifty-fifth anniversary of his starring role in the Broadway opening of "Porgy and Bess."
1892 - Augusta Savage is born in Green Springs, Florida.
She will become a sculptor, teacher, and one of the most influential forces among Harlem
1940 - Robert Sengstacke Abbott, newspaper editor and publisher of the Chicago Defender, joins the ancestors in Chicago, Illinois. His newspaper became a bold voice for African Americans in the North, advocating during the wave of lynchings after World War I the slogan, "if you must die, take at least one with you," later simplified to "an eye for an eye." Abbott passes away as his nephew, John Sengstacke, is establishing the National Newspaper Publishers Association in Washington, DC.
1940 - In Hollywood, Hattie McDaniel receives an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role in "Gone With the Wind." She is the first African American to win an Oscar. Often criticized for her portrayal of maids, she will say, "It's much better to play a maid than to be one. The only choice permitted me is either to be a servant for $7 a week or portray one for $700 a week."
1968 - The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, convened by President Lyndon B. Johnson after riots occur in major cities throughout the United States, issues its report. The commission will be called the "Kerner Commission" after its chairman, Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois. The report concludes that white racism is one of the fundamental causes of riots in the United States. It also cited what was need to avert future violence -- jobs, open housing laws and the elimination of defacto school segregation. It also concluded the United States was "headed toward two societies, one Black and one White -- separate and unequal." A 30-year update of the Kerner Commission reports "the divide between rich and poor has become greater in the United States and the challenges from within more formidable."
1988 - South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other religious leaders are arrested while kneeling near Parliament with a petition against government bans on anti-apartheid groups.
1996 - Daniel Green is convicted in Lumberton, North Carolina, of murdering James R. Jordan, the father of basketball star Michael Jordan, during a 1993 roadside holdup. (Green will be sentenced to life in prison; an accomplice who had testified against him, Larry Demery, also will receive a life sentence.)
Updated by K. Ferguson Kelly: March 16, 2002