16 -31 January in Black History
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16 January 1876 - 1989

1776 - The Continental Congress approves General George Washington's order on the enlistment of free African Americans.

1865 - General William T. Sherman issues his Field Order No. 15, setting aside "the islands from Charleston, south, the abandoned rice fields along the river for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. John's River, Florida," for exclusive settlement by African Americans.  The order provides that "each family should have a plot of not more than forty (40) acres of tillable ground...in the possession of which land the military authorities will afford them protection until such time as they can protect themselves...."  General Rufus Saxton, South Carolina Freedmen's Bureau director, will later settle some 40,000 African Americans on forty-acre tracts in the area.  In South Carolina and other states, African American settlers will be given possessory titles pending final action on the confiscated and abandoned lands of Confederate rebels.  Many will never see their land, because President Johnson will reverse the policy implemented by the Freedmen's Bureau.

1871 - Jefferson F. Long, of Georgia, is sworn in as the second African American congressman.

1901 - Hiram Revels joins the ancestors in Aberdeen, Mississippi, at the age of 73. He held the distinction of being the first African American elected to serve in the U.S. Senate.

1938 - Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson become the first African Americans to perform at Carnegie Hall, in New York City.  Benny Goodman leads a historic jazz concert, later considered to be one of the first "serious" jazz concerts. Goodman refuses to perform without the two African American members of his band.  Carnegie Hall officials will relent and the integrated band performs to critical praise with Hampton on vibraphone and Wilson on piano.

1941 - The War Department announces formation of the first Army Air Corps squadron for African American cadets.  The 99th Pursuit Squadron is formed and the Tuskegee Training Program is established.  The 99th will fly more than 500 missions and more than 3,700 sorties during one year of combat before being combined with the 332nd Fighter Group.

1941 - Dr. Charles Richard Drew sets up and runs the pioneer blood plasma bank in Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.  This bank will serve as one of the models for the system of banks operated later by the American Red Cross.

1962 - A suit accusing the New York City Board of Education of using "racial quotas" is filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of African American and Puerto Rican children.

1966 - Harold R. Perry becomes the second African American Roman Catholic bishop in U.S. history.

1967 - Lucius D. Amerson, a former army paratrooper, becomes the first African American sheriff in the South since Reconstruction, when he is sworn in at Tuskegee (Macon County), Alabama.

1967 - The first Black government is installed in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

1974 - Heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, is named the Associated Press "Athlete of the Year."

1978 - NASA names Major Frederick D. Gregory, Major Guion Bluford, and Dr. Ronald McNair to its astronaut program.

1988 - Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, a self-styled oddsmaker and expert on sports, is fired as a CBS Sports commentator after making controversial remarks about athletes of African descent.

1989 - Racially motivated disturbances erupt in Miami, Florida after a police officer fatally shoots an African American motorcyclist, causing a crash that kills a passenger.

17 January 1759 - 2000

1759 - Paul Cuffe is born in Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts.  He will become a successful shipowner, philanthropist, and a force in the movement for African Americans' repatriation to Africa.

1874 - Armed white Democrats seize the Texas government and put an end to Radical Reconstruction in Texas.

1917 - The United States pays $ 25 million for the Danish Virgin Islands.

1923 - The NAACP's Spingarn Medal is awarded to George Washington Carver, head of the department of research, Tuskegee Institute, for his pioneering work in agricultural chemistry.

1923 - The first session of the Third Pan-African Congress convenes in London, England.   The second session will be held in Lisbon.

1924 - Jewel Plummer Cobb is born in Chicago, Illinois.  She will be a prominent cancer research biologist before becoming a professor and administrator at Connecticut College and Rutgers University and, in 1981, president of California State University, Fullerton, the first African American woman to hold such a position in the CSU system.

1931 - James Earl Jones is born in Arkabutla, Mississippi.  He will become renowned as an actor, both on the stage and the screen, earning a Tony award in 1969 for his portrayal of boxing great Jack Johnson in the "The Great White Hope" as well as acclaim for his Broadway roles in "A Lesson From Aloes," "Fences," and many others.  Among his film and television credits will be the voice of Darth Vader in "Star Wars" and leading roles in "Paris" and "Gabriel's Fire."

1931 -  Lawrence Douglas Wilder is born in Richmond, Virginia.  He will graduate from Virginia Union University and serve in the U.S. Army in Korea, where he will receive the Bronze Star for heroism. He will attend and graduate from, the Howard University School of Law and become a successful trial attorney.  In 1969, he will be elected as Virginia's first African American  state senator since Reconstruction.   In 1985, he will become Virginia's first African American Lieutenant Governor.   He will make history for a third time on January 13, 1990, when he takes office as the first elected African American governor in U.S. history.

1942 - Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. is born in Louisville, Kentucky. Early in his boxing career, Clay converts to Islam. As Muhammad Ali, he is one of the first African American athletes to intermingle political and social consciousness with sports. He will become the dominant heavyweight boxer of the 1960s and 1970s, winning an Olympic gold medal, capturing the professional world heavyweight championship on three separate occasions, and defend his title successfully 19 times. Ali's extroverted, colorful style, both in and out of the ring, will introduce a new mode of media-conscious athletic celebrity. Through his strong assertions of black pride, his conversion to the Muslim faith, and his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War, Ali will become a highly controversial symbol of the turbulent 1960s.

1961 - Patrice Lumumba, African revolutionary and first Congolese Premier of the Republic of Congo, joins the ancestors after being murdered at the age of 36, by the soldiers of the secessionist Tshombe's soldiers.

1966 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. opens his civil rights campaign in Chicago, Illinois.   This marks the first time, during the civil rights movement, that the campaign takes place in a northern city.

1970 - John M. Burgess is installed as bishop of the Protestant Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts.

1978 - Dr. Ronald McNair is named by NASA as a participant on a space mission.

1989 - The Phoenix Suns/Miami Heat game is cancelled, due to racial unrest in Miami.

1990 - The Four Tops, Hank Ballard, and The Platters are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1996 - Former U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan joins the ancestors in Austin, Texas, at the age of 59.

1998 - Louis Stokes, the first African American congressman from the state of Ohio, announces his retirement from Congress at the age of 73.  He has been a congressman for three decades.

2000 - Nearly 50,000 people march to South Carolina's Statehouse on Martin Luther King Day to demand the Confederate battle flag be taken down. They are protesting Confederate flag as a symbol of slavery and racism.

18 January 1856 -2000

1856 - Dr. Daniel Nathan Hale Williams is born in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania.  He will graduate from Chicago Medical College in 1883 and begin his practice on Chicago's South Side.  After 8 years of frustration, not being able to use the facilities at the white hospitals in Chicago, he will found Provident Hospital in 1891 and open it to patients of all races. He will make his mark in medical history on July 10, 1893, when he performs the world's first successful open heart surgery.

1948 - The first courses begin at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

1949 - Congressman William Dawson is elected chairman of the House Expenditure Committee.  He is the first African American to head a standing committee of Congress.

1958 - Willie Eldon O'Ree becomes the first person of African descent to play in the NHL, when he debuts with the Boston Bruins in a 3-0 win over Montreal in the Forum.

1961 - Zanzibar's Afro-Shirazi party wins 1 seat by a single vote and control Parliament by a single seat.

1962 - Southern University is closed because of demonstrations protesting the expulsion of student sit-in activists.

1966 - Robert C. Weaver takes the oath of office as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Weaver becomes the first African American to serve in a U.S. President's Cabinet.

1989 - Otis Redding, The Temptations, and Stevie Wonder are inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

1990 - The South African government announces that it is reconsidering a ban on the African National Congress.

1990 - Washington, DC mayor Marion Barry is arrested for allegedly purchasing and using crack cocaine in a Washington, DC hotel room.  The circumstances surrounding his arrest, trial, and conviction on one count of misdemeanor cocaine possession will be hotly debated by African American and white citizens of the District and elsewhere.

1995 - South African President Nelson Mandela's cabinet denies amnesty sought by 3,500 police officers in apartheid's waning days.

2000 - Jester Hairston, who appeared on radio and TV's "Amos 'n' Andy," but who was better known to younger fans as the wise old church member Rolly on the sitcom "Amen," joins the ancestors in Los Angeles, California at the age of 98.

19 January 1918 - 1983

1918 - John H. Johnson is born in Arkansas City, Mississippi. He will become the founder and president of Johnson Publishing Company, Inc., the most prosperous African American publishing company in America. His company will publish "Negro Digest"(his first), "Ebony," "Jet," "Black Star," "Black World" and "Ebony Jr." magazines. He will receive numerous awards, including the Horatio Alger Award, the NAACP Spingarn Medal and the National Newspaper Publishers Association's Henry Johnson Fisher Award for outstanding contributions to publishing.

1952 - The PGA Tournament Committee votes to allow African American golfers to compete in sanctioned golf tournaments.

1959 - In a letter to her mother shortly before the opening of her first play, "A Raisin in the Sun," Lorraine Hansberry says "Mama, it is a play that tells the truth about people Negroes and life and I think it will help a lot of people to understand how we are just as complicated as they are-- and just as mixed up--but above all, that we have among our miserable and downtrodden ranks--people who are the very essence of human dignity. That is what, after all the laughter and tears, the play is supposed to say."

1970 - The California state board of regents fires Angela Davis from her teaching position at the University of California at Los Angeles for being a communist. This will be done at the urging of then Governor Ronald Reagan. Her dismissal will be overturned later by the courts, but the board of regents will refuse to renew her contract at the end of the 1969-1970 academic year.

1983 - In its "State of Black America" annual report, the National Urban League warns that the recession had disproportionately hurt African Americans: "A major question facing the nation in 1983 is whether the inevitable restructuring of the American economy will include Black people."

20 January 1788 - 1986

1788 - The first African Baptist Church is organized in Savannah, Georgia, with Andrew Bryan ordained as its pastor. It is the first African American Baptist church in the United States, as well as the first Baptist church, black or white, in Savannah.

1847 - W.R. Pettiford is born. He will become the founder of the Alabama Penny Savings Bank. The Alabama Penny Savings Bank will be Alabama's first African American-owned bank and the first of three banks in the nation, owned and operated by African Americans in the early 1900s.

1868 - The Florida constitutional convention with eighteen African Americans and twenty-seven whites meet in Tallahassee.

1870 - Hiram R. Revels is chosen by the Mississippi legislature to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Although he will be challenged by the Senate, Revels will take his seat one month later, becoming the first African American U.S. Senator.

1895 - Eva Jessye is born in Coffeyville, Kansas. She will become an influential choral director, working in King Vidor's "Hallelujah" and the original production of George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess."

1954 - The National Negro Network is formed by W. Leonard Evans. Some 40 radio stations are charter members of the network.

1973 - Guinea-Bissau nationalist leader Amilcar Cabral is assassinated in Conakry, Guinea, by Portuguese agents. He had founded the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde), the organization that fought Portuguese colonial rule and eventually led to the independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. Cabral is considered one of Africa's most important independentist leaders.

1977 - Clifford Alexander, Jr. is sworn in as the first African American Secretary of the Army.

1986 - The inaugural issue of "American Visions" magazine hits the newsstands nationwide. The magazine is dedicated to exposing its readers to African American contributions to history, literature, music, and the arts.

1986 - The United States observes the first federal holiday in honor of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

21 January 1830 - 1990

1830 - The African American population in Portsmouth, Ohio is forcibly deported by order of city officials.

1913 - Fanny M. Jackson Coppin joins the ancestors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a pioneering educator and missionary and the first African American woman to graduate from an American college (Oberlin, 1865). Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland will be named after her.

1920 - James Farmer is born in Marshall, Texas. He will become the founder of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1943 and will be a major force in the modern civil right movement in the United States.

1938 - Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Marion Turner Stubbs Thomas. Dedicated to providing educational, cultural, civic, and social programs for African American youth, Jack and Jill will grow to have 180 chapters nationwide.

1941 - Richard "Richie" P. Havens is born in Brooklyn, New York. He will grow up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community, the eldest of nine children. He will become a folk singer, influenced in his early days by Nina Simone. It will be as a live performer, that he will first earn widespread notice. Richie will play the 1966 Newport Folk Festival, the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival, the January 1968 Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert at Carnegie Hall, the December 1968 Miami Pop Festival, the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival, and of course, the 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York.

1950 - Leslie Sebastien Charles in born in Fyzabad, Trinidad. He will emigrate to England at the age of eight and will later become a popular singer known as "Billy Ocean." He will release hits such as "Suddenly," "Caribbean Queen," "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car," "When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going" (which was featured in the movie, The Jewel Of The Nile), and "To Make You Cry."

1963 - Akeem Olajuwon is born in Nigeria. He will become one of five boys born to his parents with one sister. He will come to the United States and play collegiate basketball for the University of Houston. He will be selected by the Houston Rockets in the first round (first pick overall) of the 1984 NBA Draft. After twelve years of play in the NBA, he will be selected in 1996 as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Olajuwon will add a "H" to his first name on 3/9/1991 and become an United States citizen on 4/2/1993. The University of Houston will retire his jersey, # 34, on 2/12/97.

1964 - Carl T. Rowan is named director of the U.S. Information Agency, the highest position ever held by an African American. By virtue of his position, he also becomes the first African American to sit on the National Security Council.

1971 - Twelve African American congressmen boycott Richard Nixon's State of the Union Address because of his "consistent refusal" to respond to the petitions of African Americans.

1982 - Blues guitar singer B.B. King donates his entire record collection to the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture. The collection includes about 7,000 rare blues records he played when he worked as a disc jockey in Memphis. Born Riley B. King, he called himself the "Beale Street Blues Boy," later shortened to B.B. B.B. King is considered one of the most influential blues musicians in history.

1990 - Quincy Jones is awarded the French Legion of Honor for his contributions to music as a trumpeter, composer, arranger, and record producer.

22 January 1801 -1988

1801 - Haitian liberator, Toussaint L'Ouverture, enters Santiago to battle the French Armed Forces.

1891 - The "Lodge Bill," which called for federal supervision of U.S. elections, is abandoned in the Senate after a Southern filibuster.

1906 - Twenty-eight-year-old Meta Vaux Warrick's sculpture "Portraits from Mirrors" is exhibited at the 101st Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Although it is one of the first major showings of her work, the young Warrick (later Fuller) has already studied sculpture with the legendary Auguste Rodin and had her work exhibited in Paris at S. Bing's Gallery Nouveau.

1920 - William Warfield is born in West Helena, Arkansas, the eldest of five sons.  He will become a singer and have his recital debut in New York's famous Town Hall on March 19, 1950, putting him into the front ranks of concert artists overnight.  His career will span almost fifty years and among his frequent appearances in foreign countries, this artist has made six separate tours for the U.S. Department of State, more than any other American solo artist.   He will receive a Grammy in the "Spoken Word" category (1984) for his outstanding narration of Aaron Copeland's "A Lincoln Portrait" accompanied by the Eastman Philharmonic Orchestra.  He is best known for his role in "Showboat."

1924 - James Louis (J.J.) Johnson is born in Indianapolis, Indiana.  He will become one of the greatest trombonists and composers in jazz.  He will be originally influenced by Fred Beckett of Harlan Leonard's band.   Soon thereafter, he will join Benny Carter.  He will play with Count Basie (1945-1946) and record his first solo improvisation.  During the 1954-1956 period, J.J. Johnson will take a brief break from bands and team up with Kai Winding for a commercially successful trombone duo.  He will prefer the use of pure tones when playing the trombone, focusing on line, interval and accent.  His solos will show virtuosity because of their remarkable mobility, which many artists find difficult to duplicate or imitate.  These endeavors will be fruitless in the early 1950s and for a couple of years he will work as a blueprint inspector.  In the 1970s, Johnson will move from New Jersey to California, concentrating exclusively on film and television scoring.  In 1984, Johnson will reenter the jazz scene with a tour of the "European Festival Circuit."  He will join the ancestors in 1991 from complications from a stroke.

1931 - Samuel "Sam" Cooke is born in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  He will grow up in Chicago, Illinois, after moving there with his family in 1933.  He will become a singer and be best known for his recordings "You Send Me" and "Twisting the Night Away." Cooke will be one of the most popular singers of the 1960's. He will join the ancestors on December 11, 1964.  He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 23, 1986.

1960 - Sugar Ray Robinson loses the Middleweight Boxing Championship to Paul Pender in a 15-round decision.

1961 - Wilma Rudolph, the 1960 Olympic gold medalist and track star, sets a world indoor mark in the women's 60-yard dash, with a speedy 6.9 seconds in a meet held in Los Angeles, California.

1962 - Baseball Writers elect Jackie Robinson into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1973 - George Foreman takes the heavyweight boxing title away from 'Smokin' Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica in the second round.  Foreman will knock 'Smokin' Joe down six times on his way to victory.

1981 - Samuel Pierce is named Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  One of the few African Americans in the Reagan administration, there will be high expectations for his potential to effect change, but Pierce's leadership will be severely questioned as scandal rocks his department in 1989. An estimated $2 billion will be lost due to fraud and mismanagement during Pierce's tenure.

1988 - Heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson knocks out former champion Larry Holmes in 4 rounds.

23 January 1837 - 1989

1837 - Amanda Berry Smith is born into slavery in Long Green, Maryland.  She will be widowed twice, after which she will attempt to minister to her people.  Unable to preach in the AME Church, which did not ordain women ministers, Smith will become an independent missionary and travel throughout the United States and three continents.   She will publish her autobiography, "Amanda Smith's Story - The Story of the Lord's Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, The Colored Evangelist," in 1893.

1891 - Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, the first African American hospital, is founded by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams.  He also establishes the Provident Hospital School of Nursing around the same time, because Emma Reynolds, an African American, had been denied admission to every school of nursing in the city of Chicago.

1941 - Richard Wright is awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for his book, "Native Son."

1943 - Duke Ellington's band plays for a black-tie crowd at Carnegie Hall in New York City.  It is the first of what will become an annual series of concerts for 'The Duke'.

1945 - The Army Nurse Corps discontinues its color barrier and starts admitting nurses without regard to race.  This is due primarily to the pressure applied by the National Association of Colored Nursing Graduates (NACGN) and other groups.

1962 - Demonstrations against discrimination in off-campus housing are staged by students at University of Chicago for fourteen days. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) charges that the university operates segregated apartment houses.

1964 - The 24th amendment to the United States' Constitution, abolishing the poll tax in federal elections, is ratified. The poll tax had been used extensively in the South as a means of preventing African Americans from voting.

1976 - Paul Robeson joins the ancestors, as the result of a stroke, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He had been a world-renown actor and singer.  He was perhaps the best known and most widely respected African American of the 1930s and 1940s.   Robeson was also a staunch supporter of the Soviet Union, and a man, later in his life, widely vilified and censored for his frankness and unyielding views on issues to which public opinion ran contrary.  As a young man, Robeson was virile, charismatic, eloquent, and powerful. He learned to speak more than 20 languages in order to break down the barriers of race and ignorance throughout the world, and yet, as Sterling Stuckey pointed out in the "New York Times Book Review," for the last 25 years of his life his was "a great whisper and a greater silence in black America."

1977 - The first episode of "Roots," adapted from the "New York Times" bestseller by Alex Haley, is aired on ABC.  Over the next several nights, 130 million Americans will be transfixed before their televisions as the story of Kunta Kinte is told.

1985 - O.J. Simpson becomes the first Heisman Trophy winner to be inducted into pro football's Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys, another Heisman winner, is also elected, but is after O.J. in the sequence of induction.

1986 - The first annual induction ceremony for the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame is held in New York City.  Among those inducted were Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, and Fats Domino.

1989 - In "City of Richmond vs. J.A. Croson Co.," the United States Supreme Court invalidates the city's minority set-aside program, a major setback for the concept's proponents.

24 January 1885 - 1993

1885 - Martin R. Delany joins the ancestors at the age of 72 in Wilberforce, Ohio.  When he graduated from Harvard University with a medical degree, he was the first African American to do so.  Delany served as a physician and was the first commissioned African American officer in the Union Army during the Civil War.  He also was a leader in the fight to end racial job discrimination.  Delany encouraged African Americans to seek their own identity and is considered by some historians to be the father of American Black nationalism.  He is the author of "Search for a Place: Black Separatism and Africa," and "The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People in the United States.

1977 - Howard T. Ward becomes Georgia's first African American Superior Court Judge.

1985 - Four-term Los Angeles mayor Thomas Bradley is awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for his long career as a public servant and for "demonstrating...that the American dream not only can be pursued but realized."

1988 - Forty-eight African American writers and literary critics sign a controversial statement that appears in "The New York Times Book Review" supporting author Toni Morrison and protesting her failure to win the "keystone honors of the National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize."

1989 - Reverend Barbara Harris' election as suffragan bishop is ratified by the Diocese of Massachusetts.  Her election and consecration occur amid widespread controversy regarding the role of women bishops in the Episcopal Church.  She will be the first female bishop in the church's 450-year history.

1993 - Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, joins the ancestors in Washington, DC. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  He was one of the most well-known figures in the history of civil rights in America and served on the Supreme Court for 24 years.

25 January 1851 -1999

1851 - Sojourner Truth addresses the first African American Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

1890 - The National Afro-American League is founded at an organizing meeting in Chicago, Illinois.  Joseph Price, the president of Livingston College, is elected the first president of what will come to be considered a pioneering African American protest organization.

1938 - Jamesetta Hawkins is born in Los Angeles, California.  She will become a rhythm and blues singer known as "Etta James." She will be described as "one of the great forces in American Music."  She will become a star scoring her first national pop hit, "Roll With Me, Henry", at age sixteen, and be recognized as a master in the fields of blues, R&B, jazz, and pop, crossing genres time and again.  Between 1955 and 1975, Etta will create a dozen Top-10 Rhythm & Blues hits and more than 25 chart hits. They will include such soulful performances as "All I Could Do Was Cry" (1960), "At Last" (1961), "Trust in Me" (1961), "Stop the Wedding" (1962), "Tell Mama" (1967), and "Security" (1968).  She will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.  She will be nominated for six Grammy Awards and will win the award for her 1994 recording of "Mystery Lady," saluting Billie Holiday.

1942 - Carl Eller is born.  He will become a professional football player, spending many of his years with the Minnesota Vikings.  On the Vikings team, he will play in four Super Bowl games (IV, VIII, IX, XI), in losing efforts.

1944 - Eugene Washington is born.  He will become a professional football player and go to Super Bowl IV with the Minnesota Vikings.

1950 - Gloria Naylor is born in New York City.  She will become a Jehovah Witnesses minister and 'pioneer' over a period of seven years.  After leaving the Witnesses and suffering a nervous breakdown, she will read Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye", and be inspired to become a writer.  She will complete her Bachelor's and Master's degrees and become a major writer and is best known for her work, "The Women of Brewster Place."

1966 - Constance Baker Motley becomes the first African American woman to be appointed to a federal judgeship.

1972 - Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm begins her campaign for President of the United States.  Although she will ultimately be unsuccessful, she will make known the concerns of African Americans across the country.

1980 - Black Entertainment Television, better known as BET, begins broadcasting from Washington, DC.  Robert L. Johnson, who established the company with a $ 15,000 personal loan, will make BET one of the most successful cable television networks, with 25 million subscribers by its tenth anniversary and, in 1991, the first African American-owned company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

1989 - Michael Jordan scores his 10,000th NBA point in his 5th season, the second fastest NBA climb to that position behind Wilt Chamberlain.

1999 - Jury selection begins in Jasper, Texas, in the trial of white supremacist John William King, charged in the dragging death of African American James Byrd Jr.

     26 January 1863 - 1990

1863 - The War Department authorizes the governor of Massachusetts to enlist African American troops to fight in the Civil War.  The 54th and 55th Volunteer Infantry are the result.

1893 - Bessie Coleman was born in Altanta, Texas, the twelfth of thirteen children.   She will grow up to become the first African American female pilot and the first woman to obtain an international flying license.

1928 - Eartha Mae Kitt is born in North, South Carolina.  She will start her career as a professional dancer with the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe, which will take her to Paris, where she will tour as a nightclub singer.  She will eventually return to the United States and roles on Broadway and in films.

1932 - George H. Clements is born.  He will become a priest in the Washington, DC area nationally known for his anti-drug activitism and involvement in the group "One Church, One Addict."

1934 - The Apollo Theatre opens in New York City as a 'Negro vaudeville theatre'.   It will become the showplace for many of the great African American entertainers, singers, groups and instrumentalists in the country.  The saying will become common "If you made it... you played it..." at the Apollo Theatre.

1934 - Huey "Piano" Smith is born.  He will become a Rhythm and Blues pianist and will be best known for his recording of "Having a Good Time."

1940 - Sherian Grace Cadoria is born in Marksville, Louisiana.  She will make her career in the United States Army after graduating from Southern University in Louisiana.   In 1985, she will be promoted to brigadier general, making her the highest ranking African American woman in the U.S. military. She will be the first woman elevated to that rank in the Provost Marshal Corps.  She will eventually become Director of Manpower and Personnel for the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Cadoria will say that she has "gotten more pressure from being a woman in a man's world than from being black."  She will accomplish many firsts: she will be the first woman to command a battalion; the first woman to command a criminal investigation brigade; the first African American woman director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the first woman to attend the Army's top colleges, Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. She will be the senior African American female general in the U.S. Armed Forces upon her retirement in November 1990 after serving 29 years.  Following retirement, General Cadoria will found her own business, Cadoria Speaker and Consultancy Service.

1944 - Angela Yvonne Davis is born in Birmingham, Alabama.  Active in civil rights demonstrations and in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, she will be fired twice from the University of California at Los Angeles because of her Communist Party affiliation and she will successfully sue for reinstatement.  A philosopher and author, she will flee the law after being implicated in the 1970 Soledad Brothers shooting. After sixteen months in jail, she will be acquitted of all charges.

1958 - Anita Baker is born in Toledo, Ohio.  A singer of ballads and jazz-inspired Rhythm and Blues, her 1986 album "Rapture" will sell five million copies and earn her a 1987 Grammy.  She will win two more in 1989.

1990 - Elaine Weddington Steward is named assistant general manager of the Boston Red Sox.  She becomes the first African American female executive of a professional baseball organization.

27 January 1869 - 1984

1869 - Will Marion Cook, who will become a noted composer and conductor, is born in Washington, DC.  Studying the violin at age 13, at 15 Cook will win a scholarship to study at the Berlin Conservatory.  Among other accomplishments, he will introduce syncopated ragtime to New York City theatregoers in his operetta "Clorinda." Duke Ellington will call him the "master of all masters of our people."

1894 - Frederick Douglass 'Fritz' Pollard is born in Chicago, Illinois.  He will become a football star at Brown University in 1915 and lead them to the first Rose Bowl game, played on January 1, 1916.  This will make him the first African American to play in the Rose Bowl.  He will become the first African American named an All-American.  After leaving Brown University, he will become one of the first African Americans to play professional football and will become the first African American quarterback and the first African American head coach, both with the NFL Akron Indians.   When the NFL bans African American players from its ranks in 1933, Pollard will organize the first African American professional football team, the Brown Bombers of Harlem.  After fifteen years in professional football, Pollard will establish the first all-African American investment company in the country, and run New York City's first African American tabloid newspaper.  He will also be involved in the production of some of America's first all-African American movies.

1915 - The United States Marines occupy Haiti.  This occupation will continue until 1934.  Americans will serve as officials of the Haitian government and control its finances, police force, and public works.

1930 - Bobby 'Blue' Bland is born in Rosemark, Tennessee.  He will become a singer and start his career as a member of The Beale Streeters with Johnny Ace.  He will become a solo artist with the Malaco label and record "That's the Way Love Is," "Call on Me," "Turn on Your Love Light," and "Ain't Nothin' You Can Do."

1952 - Ralph Ellison's powerful novel "Invisible Man" wins the National Book Award.

1961 - Leontyne Price makes her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.   She sings in the role of Leonora in "Il Trovatore".  Price is the seventh African American singer to make a debut at the Met.  Marian Anderson was the first in 1955.

1972 - Mahalia Jackson, gospel singer, joins the ancestors in Evergreen Park, Illinois at the age of 60.  Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, she began her singing career with the Salem Baptist Choir in Chicago, Illinois.  She achieved national fame with her recording of "Move on Up A Little Higher," which sold over a million copies. Many considered her rich contralto voice the best in gospel  music.

1972 - In Columbia, South Carolina, the white and African American United Methodist conferences of South Carolina -- separated since the Civil War -- vote in their respective meetings to adopt a plan of union.

1984 - Carl Lewis betters his own two-year-old record by 9-1/4 inches when he sets a new, world, indoor-record with a long jump mark of 28 feet, 10-1/4 inches in New York City.

1984 - Singer, Michael Jackson's hair catches on fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial in Los Angeles at the Shrine Auditorium. Pyrotechnics did not operate on cue, injuring the singer.  Jackson is hospitalized for a few days and fans from around the world send messages of concern.

28 January 1858 - 1986

1858 - John Brown organizes the raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.   The raid was an attempt to obtain arms and ammunition to free African Americans from slavery by force.

1901 - James Richmond Barthe' is born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.  Educated at the Art Institute of Chicago, he will begin to attain critical acclaim as a sculptor at 26.   He will drop the use of his first name when producing his works of art and will be best known as Richmond Barthe. His first commissions will be of Henry O. Tanner and Toussaint Ouverture.  He will also become the first African American commissioned to produce a bust for the NYU Hall of Fame (of Booker T. Washington).

1938 - Crystal Byrd Fauset is elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, becoming the first African American woman to be elected to a state legislature.

1944 - Matthew Henson is a recipient of a joint medal by Congress for his role as co-discoverer of the North Pole.  It is the U.S. government's first official recognition of the explorer who accompanied Commander Robert Peary on his 1909 expedition.

1958 - Brooklyn Dodger catcher Roy Campanella's career ends when he loses control of his car on a slick highway. He will become a paraplegic and be confined to a wheelchair the remainder of his life.  The accident ends his ten-year playing career with the Dodgers, where he had been named the National League's MVP three times, but he will remain a part of the Dodgers organization for many years.  He will join the ancestors on June 26, 1993.

1960 - Zora Neale Hurston joins the ancestors in Fort Pierce, Florida at the age of 71. She had been a prominent figure  during the Harlem Renaissance.

1970 - Arthur Ashe is denied entry to compete on the U.S. Team for the South African Open Tennis Championships due to Ashe's sentiments on South Africa's racial policies.

1972 - Scott Joplin's Opera "Treemonisha," published 61 years earlier, has its world premiere with Robert Shaw and Katherine Dunham directing.

1986 - The space shuttle "Challenger" explodes 73 seconds after lift-off at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  One of the seven crew members killed is physicist Dr. Ronald McNair, the only African American aboard.

29 January 1837 - 1999

1837 - Aleksandr Sereyevich Pushkin, a Russian of African ancestry who is considered the "Shakespeare of Russian Literature," joins the ancestors after being killed in a duel.  Technically one-eighth African or an octoroon, Pushkin was by all accounts Negroid in his appearance.  His verse novel "Eugene Onegin" and other works are considered classics of Russian literature and inspiration for later great Russian writers such as Gogol, Dostoyevski, and Tolstoy.

1850 - Henry Clay introduced in the Senate a compromise bill on slavery which included the admission of California into the Union as a free state.

1872 - Francis L. Cardoza is elected State Treasurer of South Carolina.

1908 - Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, founded at Cornell University in 1906, is incorporated in the state of New York.

1913 - Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, founded at Howard University in 1908, is incorporated in Washington, DC.

1913 - African Americans celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Major celebrations are held in Jackson, Mississippi, New Orleans, Louisiana and Nashville, Tennessee.  Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey appropriate money for official celebrations of the event.

1926 - Violette Neatley Anderson is the first African American woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

1954 - Oprah Winfrey is born in Kosciusko, Mississippi.  She will become the first African American woman to host a nationally syndicated talk show and will be nominated for an Academy award for best supporting actress in 1985 for her role in "The Color Purple."  Following in the footsteps of Oscar Micheaux and others, she will also form her own film and television production company, Harpo Studios, in Chicago, Illinois.   In 1988, Harpo Studios will take over ownership and production of the "Oprah Winfrey Show," making her the first African American woman to own and produce her own national talk show.

1966 - Charles Mahoney, the first African American delegate to the United Nations, joins the ancestors.

1981 - William R. "Cozy" Cole joins the ancestors in Columbus, Ohio.  A jazz drummer who played with Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong, he was known as a versatile percussionist who played in big bands, comedy jazz groups, and Broadway musicals.  In 1958, his recording of "Topsy" became the only drum solo to sell more than one million records.

1999 - Ronnie Lott, formally of the San Francisco 49'ers, is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

30 January 1997 - 1997

1797 - Boston Masons, led by Prince Hall, establish the first African American interstate organization, creating lodges in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Providence, Rhode Island.

1797 - Sojourner Truth is born a slave in Hurley, New York.  This is an approximation, since historians cannot agree on the actual date of her birth.

1797 - Congress refuses to accept the first recorded petitions from African Americans.

1844 - Richard Theodore Greener becomes the first African American to graduate from Harvard University.

1858 - William Wells Brown publishes the first drama by an African American, "Leap to Freedom," Brown is an escaped slave who will also become noted as an abolitionist and author of several early historical publications.

1927 - The Harlem Globetrotters, considered by many the most popular basketball team in the world, is formed by Abe Saperstein.  Originally called the Savoy Five after their home court, the Savoy Ballroom, in Chicago, Illinois, the team's name will be changed to the Harlem Globetrotters.

1928 - Ruth Brown is born in Portsmouth, Virginia.   She will become a Rhythm & Blues and jazz singer, recording "So Long," "Teardrops from My Eyes," "Hours," "Mambo Baby," "Lucky Lips," and "This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'."   She will be a Tony Award winner and a rhythm-and-blues revolutionary--a woman whose early successes earned her instant worldwide fame and launched a career that has influenced such legendary performers as Aretha Franklin, Dinah Washington, Little Richard and Stevie Wonder.

1944 - Sharon Pratt is born in Washington, DC.  In 1990, as Sharon Pratt Dixon, she will be elected the first woman mayor of Washington, DC.   Her defeat of incumbent Marion Barry coupled with her years of community involvement and activism will raise the beleaguered city's hopes for positive change.

1945 - Floyd Flake is born in Los Angeles, California.  He will become a congressman from New York's 6th District.

1956 - The home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Montgomery bus boycott leader, is bombed.

1962 - The United Nations General Assembly censures Portugal for its widespread violations of human rights in Angola.

1965 - Leroy "Satchel" Paige, major league baseball player, is named all-time outstanding player by the National Baseball Congress.

1979 - Franklin A. Thomas becomes the first African American to head a major U.S. charitable foundation when he is named president of the Ford Foundation.

31 January 1863 - 1988

1863 - The first African American Civil War regiment, the South Carolina Volunteers, are mustered into the United States Army.

1865 - Congress abolishes slavery with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  The vote in the House is 121 to 24.

1914 - Arnold Raymond Cream is born in Merchantville, New Jersey.  He will become "Jersey Joe Walcott" and World Heavyweight Champion at the age of 37.  After retiring from boxing, he will stay active in boxing as a referee and later will become chairman of the New Jersey Athletic Commission.  He will be elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

1919 - Jackie Robinson, the first African American to break racial barriers in major league baseball, is born in Cairo, Georgia.  He will start playing baseball in the Negro Leagues in preparation for a career as a physical education coach.  His major league baseball career with the Brooklyn Dodgers will begin in 1947 and he will play for nine years before leaving baseball to become a bank official, land developer, and director of programs to fight drug addiction.  Among his honors will be the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in 1956.

1920 - Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity is incorporated at Howard University.

1925 - Benjamin Hooks is born in Memphis, Tennessee.  He will become a public defender and minister after graduating from DePaul University Law School.  Through this work, he will become a prominent leader in the civil rights movement.  In 1965, he will become the first African American criminal court judge in Tennessee.  He will also become the first African American to become a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission.  In 1977, he will become the executive director of the NAACP.

1928 - Harold "Chuck" Willis is born in Atlanta, Georgia.  He will become a rhythm and blues singer and be best known for his recording of "C.C. Rider" in 1957.  He will join the ancestors in 1958 after succumbing to peritonitis.

1931 - Ernest "Ernie" Banks is born in Dallas, Texas.  He will become the first African American baseball player to wear a Chicago Cubs uniform (September 17, 1953).  Banks will also be quick to say "Let's play two!" Banks will be the Cubs' outstanding shortstop from 1954 to 1960. In 1961 he will be moved to left field, then to first base, where he will spend the rest of his career.  In 1969, Ernie Banks will be voted the Cub's best player ever by Chicago fans. 'Mr. Cub' will retire in 1971.  He will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.

1934 - Etta Moten sings for President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt at a White House dinner for family and friends.  Moten, a stage and screen star, sings songs from her role in the movie "Golddiggers of 1933 and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot."  It is the first time an African American actress performs at the White House.

1962 - Lt. Commander Samuel L. Gravely assumes command of the destroyer escort, USS Falgout.  The Navy reports that he is the first African American to command a U.S. warship.

1963 - James Baldwin's influential collection of essays "The Fire Next Time" is published.

1972 - Aretha Franklin sings "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" at Mahalia Jackson's funeral.  Over 40,000 mourners view the coffin.

1988 - Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams is named Most Valuable Player for leading his team to a 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.  He is the first African American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl game.

      Updated by K. Ferguson Kelly:  January 22, 2004