01 -15 March in Black History
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- 1739 - The British sign a peace treaty with the Black "Chimarrones" in
1780 - Pennsylvania becomes the first state to abolish slavery.
1841 - Blanche Kelso Bruce, the first African American to serve a full term in the United
States Senate, is born a slave in Prince Edward County, Virginia.
1864 - Rebecca Lee becomes the first African American woman to receive an American medical
degree, when she graduates from the New England Female Medical College in Boston.
She, along with Rebecca Cole and Susan McKinney, is one of the first African American
1871 - James Milton Turner is named minister to Liberia and becomes the first African
American diplomat accredited to an African country. James W. Mason was named
minister in March, 1870, but never took his post.
1875 - The (first) Civil Rights Bill is passed by Congress. The bill, which gives African
Americans equal rights in inns, theaters, public transportation, and other public
amusements, will be overturned by the Supreme Court in 1883.
1914 - Ralph Waldo Ellison is born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He will become a well known
author, best known for his book "Invisible Man," for which he will win the 1952
National Book Award.
1927 - Harry Belafonte is born in New York City. He will become a successful folk singer,
actor, and winner of the first Emmy awarded to an African American. His commitment
to civil and human rights will lead him to march with Martin Luther King, Jr. in
Montgomery, Selma, and Washington, DC. Among his achievements will be Kennedy Center
Honors in 1989.
1933 - Myrlie Evers-Williams is born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She will become the
wife of Medgar Evers, who will be murdered by Byron de la Beckwith. She will later
become a civil rights activist and the first woman to head the NAACP.
1940 - Richard Wright's "Native Son" is published by Harper and Brothers.
1949 - Joe Louis retires as heavyweight boxing champion after holding the title for a
record eleven years and eight months.
1960 - Four national chain stores announce on October 17 that counters in about 150 stores
in 112 cities in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, Tennessee,
Missouri, Maryland, Florida and Oklahoma have been integrated.
1960 - The Alabama State Board of Education expels nine Alabama State University students
for participating in sit-in demonstrations.
1960 - Montgomery, Alabama, police break up a protest demonstration on the Alabama State
University campus and arrest thirty-five students, a teacher and her husband.
1960 - San Antonio, Texas, becomes the first major Southern city to integrate lunch
1960 - Pope John elevates Bishop Laurian Rugambwa of Tanganyika to the College of
Cardinals, the first cardinal of African descent in the modern era.
1963 - Carl T. Rowan is named United States ambassador to Finland.
1967 - The House of Representatives votes to expel Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. from the 90th
- "The importation of slaves into the United States or the territories thereof"
after January 1, 1808 is banned by Congress. Although abolitionists will hail the ban, it
will not significantly affect the U.S. supply of slaves. Illegal importation will
continue through Florida and Texas. The law also has no provision to restrict the internal
slave trade, and the reproduction rate of American slaves is high enough to allow an
active trade. Therefore the domestic slave trade continues to prosper after 1808.
1867 - Howard University is chartered by Congress in Washington, DC. Also founded or
chartered are Talladega College in Talledega, Alabama, Morgan State College in Baltimore,
Maryland, Johnson C. Smith College in Charlotte, North Carolina, and St. Augustine's
College in Raleigh, North Carolina.
1867 - The first of a succession of Reconstruction acts is passed by Congress. The
acts divide the former Confederate states into five military districts under the command
of army generals.
1867 - African Americans vote in municipal election in Alexandria, Virginia, for perhaps
the first time in the South. The election commissioners refuse to count the fourteen
hundred votes and military officials suspend local elections pending clarification of the
status of the freedmen.
1867 - Elections are ordered for constitutional conventions and freedmen are enfranchised.
Commanders in some states change the status of African Americans by military
orders. Major General E.R.S. Canby opens the jury box to African Americans.
African Americans are named policemen in Mobile, Alabama.
1885 - George W. Williams, minister, lawyer and historian, is named minister to Haiti.
The appointment is vacated by the new administration.
1896 - In the battle of Aduwa, Abyssinia (Ethiopia) defeats the troops of the invading
1919 - Claude A. Barnett establishes the Associated Negro Press (ANP), the first national
news service for African American newspapers. The goal of the ANP is to provide national
news releases to African American publishers. The ANP will operate for the next 48 years
and have, at one time, 95% of all African American newspapers as subscribers.
1921 - Harry Pace establishes Pace Phonograph Corporation to produce records on the Black
Swan label. It is the first African American owned and operated record company and will
record blues, jazz, spirituals, and operatic arias.
1961 - 180 African American students and a white minister are arrested in Columbia, South
Carolina after anti-segregation march.
1962 - Philadelphia 76er Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points in an NBA game against the New
York Knicks. It is a feat Chamberlain will repeat but one which has not been equaled
by another NBA player to date.
1980 - Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns wins the vacant USBA Welterweight title. This is
one of five weight classes in which he has won a boxing title, making him the first
African American to win boxing titles in five different weight classes.
1986 - Sidney Barthelemy is elected mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, succeeding Ernest
Morial as the second African American mayor of the city.
1988 - J. Saunders Redding, author, joins the ancestors in Ithaca, New York at the age of
1990 - Carole Gist, of Detroit, Michigan, is crowned Miss USA. She becomes the first
African American to win the title.
1820 - In an attempt to resolve
the conflict between pro and antislavery forces, the Missouri Compromise becomes law .
In the final law, Missouri joins the Union as a slave state while Maine joins as a
free one. The measure prohibits slavery to the north of the southern boundary of Missouri.
1821 - Thomas L. Jennings receives a patent for an invention to "dry scour" (dry
clean) clothes. It is the earliest known patent granted to an African American.
1865 - Congress establishes the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands,
commonly known as the Freedman's Bureau, to provide health and education to newly freed
slaves displaced by the Civil War.
1865 - Congress charters Freedmen's Savings and Trust Bank with business confined to
1869 - The University of South Carolina is opened to all races. Two African
Americans, B.A. Boseman and Francis L. Cardozo were elected to a seven-man board of
1896 - The South Carolina legislature passes a measure creating the Colored Normal
Industrial, Agricultural and Mechanical College (later South Carolina State) in
Orangeburg. 1931 - Cab Calloway records the
classic "Minnie The Moocher," a song that would be forever linked to him.
The song combined scat-singing with nonsense syllables and lyrics of drug use, recounting
how Minnie and her cocaine-using lover,
Smokey Joe, went to Chinatown, where "he showed her how to kick the gong around"
- slang for opium smoking.
1962 - Jacqueline Joyner is born in East Saint Louis, Illinois. Joyner Kersee becomes an
Olympic champion, winning two medals (silver in 1984 and gold in 1988) in the heptathlon
and another gold medal in the long jump at the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea.
- Grenada gains partial independence from Great Britain.
1988 - Juanita Kidd Stout becomes the first African American woman to serve on a state
supreme court when she is sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of
1991 - Motorist Rodney King is severely beaten by four Los Angeles police officers after a
high-speed chase in a scene captured on home video by George Holliday.
1998 - Larry Doby, the second African American to play major league baseball and the first
African American to play in the American League (Cleveland Indians), is selected for
induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- 1837 - The second major African American newspaper, the
"Weekly Advocate" changes its name to the "Colored American."
1869 - The forty-second Congress convenes (1871-73) with five African American
congressmen: Joseph H. Rainey, Robert Carlos Delarge, and Robert Brown Elliott from South
Carolina; Benjamin S. Turner, of Alabama; Josiah T. Walls of Florida. Walls is
elected in an at-large election and is the first African American congressman to represent
an entire state.
1889 - The fifty-first Congress convenes. Three Black congressmen: Henry P. Cheatham
of North Carolina; Thomas E. Miller of South Carolina; and John Mercer Langston of
1897 - Willie Covan is born in Atlanta, Georgia. He will become one of the earliest
successful tap dancers, appearing in the original production of "Shuffle Along"
as well as with the Four Covans.
1901 - The congressional term of George H. White, last of the post Reconstruction
1922 - Theater legend Bert Williams joins the ancestors at the age of 46 in New York
City. He was considered the foremost African-American vaudeville performer, teaming
first with George Walker in 1895, most notably in "In Dahomey," and later as a
soloist with the Ziegfeld Follies.
1932 - Miriam Zenzi Makeba, "Empress of African Song," is born in Prospect
Township, South Africa. Although exiled from her homeland, Makeba will become
an internationally known singer and critic of apartheid. Throughout her life and singing
career, She will use her voice to to draw the attention of the world to the music of South
Africa and to its oppressive system of racial separation. After appearing in the
semi-documentary antiapartheid film, "Come Back, Africa," she will attract
international attention. This will include meeting Harry Belafonte, who will become
her sponsor and promoter in the United States. Because her music always contained a
political component - the denunciation of apartheid, her South African passport will be
revoked in 1960. Her career in the United States will be crippled by her marriage to
Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture'), who was active in the Black Panther Party. Her
career will continue to flourish in Europe. She will later become a United Nations
delegate from Guinea and will continue to record And perform. She will return to her
homeland, South Africa, in 1990 and in 1991, will make her first performance there in over
1934 - Barbara McNair is born in Racine, Wisconsin. She will become a singer and
actress, and will host her own television program (The Barbara McNair Show). The
glamorous actress will moonlight as a pop singer between TV and film roles during the
1960s. She will be a classy addition to Berry Gordy's talent roster when his firm attempts
to diversify its appeal. She will cut a pair of albums for Motown in 1966 and 1969.
1944 - Bobby Womack is born in Cleveland, Ohio. He will become a Rhythm and Blues
performer and guitarist.
1954 - The first African American sub-cabinet member is appointed. President Eisenhower
names J. Earnest Wilkins of Chicago as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor.
1968 - Joe Frazier defeats Buster Mathis for the world heavyweight boxing championship by
knockout in the eleventh round.
1968 - Martin Luther King, Jr. announces plans for the Poor People's Campaign in
Washington, DC. He says that he will lead a massive civil disobedience campaign in the
capital to pressure the government to provide jobs and income for all Americans. He
tells a press conference that an army of poor white, poor African Americans and Hispanics
will converge on Washington on April 20 and will demonstrate until their demands were met.
1981 - A jury in Salt Lake City convicts Joseph Paul Franklin, an avowed racist, of
violating the civil rights of two black men who were shot to death.
- 1770 - Crispus Attucks joins the ancestors after becoming
the first of five persons killed in the Boston Massacre. Historians have called him
the first martyr of the American Revolution.
1897 - The American Negro Academy is founded by Alexander Crummel. The purpose of
the organization is the promotion of literature, science, art, the fostering of higher
education, and the defense of the Negro.
1920 - Leontine Turpeau Current Kelly is born in Washington, DC. In 1984, she will
become the first African American woman to be named a bishop of a major religious
organization, the United Methodist Church.
1938 - Fred "The Hammer" Williamson is born in Gary, Indiana. He will
become a professional football player after training in college to be an architect.
He will play for the San Francisco 49'ers from 1962 to 1964, the Kansas City Chiefs from
1964 to 1967 (played in Super Bowl I), and the Oakland Raiders from 1967 to 1971.
After football, he will become a sportscaster on ABC's Monday Night Football with Howard
Cosell for one year. He will then become active in Hollywood as an actor, director,
producer, and writer.
1954 - Marsha Warfield is born in Chicago, Illinois. She will become an
actress and comedian and best known for her role as "Roz Russell" on NBC's
"Night Court" from 1986 to 1992.
1981 - The United States government grants the city of Atlanta $1 million to finance
mental health and social programs in the wake of a mysterious series of abductions and
slayings involving at least twenty two African American youths.
1985 - The Mary McLeod Bethune commemorative stamp is issued by the U.S. Postal Service as
the eighth stamp in its Black Heritage USA series.
1991 - Reggie Miller, of the Indiana Pacers begins a NBA free throw streak of 52 games.
1999 - Avery C. Alexander, a patriarch of the New Orleans' civil rights movement, who was
arrested 20 times before he lost count, joins the ancestors at the age of 88. A
Baptist minister and six-term Democratic state representative, Alexander championed
anti-discrimination, voter registration, labor, closer police oversight and environmental
regulation. In the 1950s, he served as an adviser to Gov. deLesseps "Chep"
Morrison, helping African Americans get their first chance at political patronage in
menial, janitor-level jobs. He went on to become the first African American to hold seats
on parish and state Democratic Party committees. In 1963, New Orleans police dragged
him by his heels down the steps of City Hall after he led an unsuccessful effort to
integrate its cafeteria.
- 1479 - The Treaty of Alcacovas is signed. This will
establish the territorial domains of Portugal and Castile (Spain) along a longitudinal
line 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. Spain thereby, recognizes
Portugal's rights to explore the African coast. Portugal becomes the first European
nation to exploit the West African slave trade.
1775 - Prince Hall and fourteen other African Americans are initiated into British
Military Lodge No. 441 of the Masons at Fort Independence, Massachusetts. Hall is a
leather-dresser and caterer. On July 3, 1775, African Lodge No. 1 will be organized
in Boston by this group of African American Masons.
1857 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules against citizenship for African Americans in the Dred
Scott decision. The Court rules that Dred Scott, a slave, cannot sue for his freedom in a
free state because he is property and, as such, "has no rights a white man has to
respect." This ruling also opens up the northern territory to slavery.
1862 - President Lincoln sends message to Congress recommending gradual and compensated
emancipation of the slaves.
1901 - Virginia State University in Ettrick, Virginia (Outside of Petersburg), is founded.
1909 - Obafemi Awolowo is born in Ikenne, Nigeria. He will become the first Premier
of Western Nigeria. He will also be a strong antagonist of the north's feudal system
and its spread to other parts of Nigeria and an advocate of the creation of more states in
Nigeria. Chief Awolowo and 28 other members of his party will be later put on trial
for treasonable felony. He was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment, and, on
appeal to the Federal Court the sentence was upheld. After spending just over three
years in Calabar prison, he will be released with a state pardon. Nine days later, amid
jubilation he was unanimously elected leader of the then 10,500,000 Yorubas and leader of
the Western delegation to the All Nigerian Conference on the future association of
Nigeria. Chief Awolowo will be an author whose publications will include "Path
to Nigerian Freedom, Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution".
1923 - Charles Ethan Porter joins the ancestors in Rockville, Connecticut. A student
of the National Academy of Design in New York City, the first African American artist in
the United States to graduate from a four-year school of art, and member of the
Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, Porter did not receive the recognition that
contemporaries Edward Bannister and Henry Ossawa Tanner won. He will be best known for the
paintings "Still Life (Crock With Onions)," "Strawberries," and
"Daisies," but there will not be a major retrospective of his work until 1987.
1941 - Wilver Dornel "Willie" Stargell is born in Earlsboro, Oklahoma. He
will become an all-star baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He will
hit 475 career home runs - twice leading the National League with 48 in 1971 and with 44
in 1973. He will drive in 1540 runs, score 1195 and have 2232 hits with a lifetime
batting average of .282. He will be inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1988.
1944 - Mary Wilson is born in Greenville, Mississippi. In 1959, she will begin
singing with a group called the "Primettes", a sister group to a male group, The
Primes." The Primes will become "The Temptations" and the Primettes will
become "The Supremes." The Supremes will become the only American act to
have five consecutive number one hits! From their beginning to the end of the group,
the Supremes will have 33 songs reach the top 40. After the group disbands in 1977,
Mary Wilson will become a successful businesswoman, author, lecturer, actress, and singer
of not just pop music, but Jazz, Rock, R&B, and Dance. She will author the
best-seller "Dreamgirl-My Life as a Supreme." In 1988, Mary Wilson will
become the first female rock star to accept her lifetime achievement award from the Rock
N' Roll Hall of Fame.
1957 - Ghana becomes the first African nation to achieve freedom from colonial rule when
the Ashanti, Northern Protectorates, the Gold Coast and British Togoland declare their
independence. The celebration ceremonies are attended by a number of American
dignitaries, including African American leaders Ralph Bunche, A. Philip Randolph, Adam
Clayton Powell, Jr., Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King.
1981 - Dr. Bernard Harleston, former dean of arts and sciences at Tufts University, is
appointed president of New York's City College.
2000 - Three white New York police officers are convicted of a cover-up in the brutal
police station attack on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.
2000 - Earth, Wind and Fire are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- 1539 - The first person of African descent to traverse
the southern portion of, what is now, the United States is Estevanico, or Esteban,
explorer from Azamov, Morocco. He discovers Arizona and New Mexico. His
journey lasted eight years. He was leading an advance scouting party when he was
killed at Hawikuh Pueblo, New Mexico.
1870 - Governor William W. Holden of North Carolina, denounces Klan violence and issues a
proclamation declaring Alamance County in a state of insurrection.
1917 - Janet Collins is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She will become a prima
ballerina and the first African American to perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera
House in New York City.
1927 - In Nixon v. Hearn, the United States Supreme Court strikes down a Texas law
prohibiting African Americans from voting in a "white" primary.
1941 - British troops invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia). This invasion will result in the
liberation of Ethiopia from fascist Italian occupation (1936 - 1941).
1942 - The first five cadets graduate from the Tuskegee Flying School: Captain Benjamin O.
Davis, Jr. and Second Lieutenants Mac Ross, Charles DeBow, L.R. Curtis, and George S.
Roberts. They will become part of the famous 99th Pursuit Squadron.
1945 - Photographer Anthony Bonair is born in Trinidad. A photographer since the
early 1970's, Bonair's work explores dance, Carnival, and the streets as well as new
directions utilizing multiple-exposure techniques.
1950 - Franco Harris is born in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He will become a NFL fullback
for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks. In his career, he will be
All-AFC three times, play in eight Pro Bowls, MVP in Super Bowl IX, rush for 1,000 yards
for nine seasons, rush for 100 yards in 47 games, rush for 12,120 career yards, 91
touchdowns rushing, 9 TDs receiving, 14,622 combined net yards, and 1,556 yards rushing in
19 post-season games. One of his most memorable plays will be "The Immaculate
Reception" in a Steeler win against the Oakland Raiders. This play will be
voted the play of the 20th Century on Superbowl Sunday, January 30, 2000. He will be
elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on January 27, 1990 and enshrined on August
1951 - Ezzard Charles wins a 15-round heavyweight decision against Jersey Joe Walcott.
1952 - Lynn Swann is born. He will become a NFL wide receiver for the Pittsburgh
Steelers. After retiring from football, he will become a network sportscaster.
1965 - John Lewis leads a group of civil rights marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge
in Selma, Alabama, where they are attacked by Alabama Alabama state troopers and sheriff's
deputies with tear gas and billy clubs. This violent confrontation will be known as
"Bloody Sunday," and will spark the historic Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights
march led by Martin Luther King Jr.
1985 - The record "We Are the World" is released as a single. The song,
whose proceeds benefit African famine relief efforts, is written by Lionel Richie and
Michael Jackson and produced by Quincy Jones, with the singing participants organized by
Jones, Harry Belafonte, and Ken Kragen. To insure that the all-night recording
session went off without a hitch and that the true cause of the song was etched into the
hearts and minds of the wide array of internationally known talent performing, a
hand-written sign is placed outside the studio at A&M Records in Hollywood which
simply said, "Check Your Egos at the Door."
1987 - World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champ, "Iron Mike" Tyson becomes
the youngest heavyweight titlist ever as he beats James "Bonecrusher" Smith in a
decision during a 12-round bout in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- 1825 - Alexander Thomas Augusta is born free in Norfolk,
Virginia. He will graduate from Trinity Medical College in Toronto, Canada in 1856, serve
his medical apprenticeship in Philadelphia, and join the Union Army in 1863 with the rank
of major. In 1865 he becomes the first African American to head any hospital in the
United States, when the Freedmen Bureau establishes Freedmen's Hospital at Howard
University with Augusta in charge. In 1868, Howard University opens its own medical
school, with Augusta as demonstrator of anatomy. He will be the first African
American to receive an honorary degree from Howard University (1869).
1873 - The United States Senate refuses to seat P.B.S. Pinchback of Louisiana
because of alleged election irregularities.
1898 - Louise Beavers is born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She will become an actress and
will be cast as the Henderson's maid in "The Beulah Show," the first network
show on television to have an African American female in the title role.
1942 - Richard Anthony "Dick" Allen is born in Wampum, Pennsylvania. He
will become a professional baseball player with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1963.
He will play in the major leagues for 14 years.
1945 - Phyllis Mae Daley, a graduate of Lincoln School for Nurses in New York, receives
her commission as an ensign in the Navy Nurse Corps. She is the first of four
African American Navy nurses (including Helen Turner, Ella Lucille Stimley, and Edith De
Voe) to serve on active duty in World War II.
1971 - Joe Frazier defeats Muhammad Ali in a heavyweight boxing championship match billed
as the "fight of the century." Ali was previously undefeated. Both Joe
Frazier and Muhammad Ali collect $2,500,000 for the fight.
1977 - Henry L. Marsh, III is elected the first African American mayor of Richmond,
1991 - "New Jack City," a film directed by Mario Van Peebles, actor and son of
director Melvin Van Peebles, premieres. Produced by African Americans George
Jackson and Doug McHenry, the film, which tells the violent story of the rise and fall of
a drug lord played by Wesley Snipes, will suffer from widespread violence among
- 1841 - Sengbe Pieh, known as Joseph Cinque, and the
surviving African slaves who revolted on the ship Amistad are ordered freed by the United
States Supreme Court and return to Africa after successfully appealing their mutiny
conviction on grounds that they were kidnapped by outlawed slave traders. Their
defense attorney is John Quincy Adams, former President of the United States and a
Massachusetts senator. Before reaching the Supreme Court, U.S. President Martin Van Buren
appeals twice the decision of lower courts to free the slaves. View the original
documents of the U.S. Supreme Court at: http://www.nara.gov/education/teaching/amistad/circuit.html
1871 - Oscar De Priest is born in Florence, Alabama. He will be the first
congressman elected from a northern state. He will represent Illinois and be an
active advocate for pensions for African American ex-slaves, lynching prevention, and
civil rights improvements.
1891 - The North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University is founded in
1892 - Three friends of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, prominent African American businessmen, are
lynched in Memphis, Tennessee after an incident that stemmed from their opening a grocery
store across the street from a white-owned grocery store.
1911 - White firemen of the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railroad struck to
protest the hiring of African American firemen. (For those who don't remember steam
engines, firemen worked in the engine stoking the fire, which kept the steam generator
1914 - The "New" Southern University campus opens in Scotlandville, Louisiana
near Baton Rouge with nine teachers and 47 students.
1930 - Ornette Coleman is born in Fort Worth, Texas. He will become a noted
avant-garde jazz saxophonist and composer and cited as Downbeat Magazine's "Musician
of the Year in 1966".
1931 - Walter F. White is named NAACP executive secretary.
1933 - Lloyd Price is born. He will become a successful Rhythm & Blues artist
and will record "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" ('52 #1 R&B), "Oooh, Oooh,
Oooh" ('52 #4 R&B), "Ain't It A Shame" ('53 #4 R&B), "Just
Because" ('57 #3 R&B, #29 Pop), "Stagger Lee" ('58 #1 R&B, #1 Pop),
"Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)" ('59 #4 R&B, #23 Pop),
Personality" ('59 #1 R&B, #2 Pop), and fifteen other hits.
1948 - Jeffrey Osborne is born. He will become an accomplished rhythm and blues
singer performing as lead singer for the group LTD. He will later become a successful solo
1964 - Miriam Zenzi Makeba speaks before the United Nations about the apartheid system in
1965 - Three white Unitarian ministers, including the Rev. James J. Reeb, are attacked
with clubs on the streets of Selma, Alabama, while participating in a civil rights
demonstration. Reeb will later die in a Birmingham, Alabama hospital.
1966 - Andrew F. Brimmer becomes the first African American governor on the Federal
1971 - Emmanuel Lewis is born in Brooklyn, New York. He will become a child actor
and will be best known for his television role as "Webster."
1997 - The popular "gangsta rapper" Notorious B.I.G., whose real name is
Christopher Wallace, joins the ancestors after being killed in a drive-by shooting in Los
Angeles, California at the age of 24.
- 1850 - Hallie Quinn Brown is born in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. She will become the author of "Homespun Heroines and Other Women of
Distinction," a 1926 collection of biographical sketches of notable African American
1863 - Two U.S. African American infantry regiments, the First and Second South Carolina
Volunteers, capture and occupy Jacksonville, Florida, causing panic along the Southern
seaboard. These regiments are not to be confused with the confederate army First
South Carolina Volunteers Infantry Regiment.
1910 - The Pittsburgh Courier begins publishing. It will become one of the most
influential African American newspapers in the country. In 1966, it will change its
name to the "New Pittsburgh Courier," and continue to operate as a semi-weekly
publication. In 1987, the Courier will be the winner of the John B. Russwurm award
for excellence in responsible journalism given by the National Newspaper Publishers
Association to the top African American Newspapers in America.
1913 - Harriet Tubman joins the ancestors in Auburn, New York. An escaped slave,
Tubman was known to the Underground Railroad as "Black Moses" for her heroic
trips south to free hundreds of slaves. During the Civil War, she served as a scout,
spy, cook, and nurse.
1926 - Marques Haynes is born. He will become one of the Harlem Globetrotters' ace
players. He will handle the ball so well, he will be dubbed "dribbler without
1963 - Jasmine Guy is born in Boston, Massachusetts. She will become an actress on
television and will be best known for her role as "Whitley" in the series
"A Different World."
1969 - James Earl Ray pleads guilty in the first degree to the murder of Dr. Martin L.
King, Jr. and will be sentenced to 99 years in prison. The House Select Committee on
Assassinations will later state that although it believes Ray shot King, Ray was part of a
larger conspiracy. Ray will later repudiate that plea, maintaining his innocence
until his death.
1972 - Three thousand delegates and five thousand observers attend the first African
American political convention in Gary, Indiana. The NAACP and other groups
withdraw from the convention after the adoption of resolutions that are critical of busing
and the state of Israel.
1990 - Haitian ruler Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril resigns during a popular uprising against his
- The Confederate Congress, meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, adopts a constitution which
declares that the passage of any "law denying or impairing the right of property in
Negro slaves is prohibited."
1870 - Moshweshwe, King of Basutoland (Lesotho) joins the ancestors. Moshweshwe was
the founder of Lesotho in the 1820's. Lesotho was landlocked by the Cape Colony (now
South Africa). He was able to develop a strong tribal organization from his mix of
peoples. He appeased the Zulu and Ndebele, led cattle raids on surrounding people,
defeated the British in 1852 and conducted frequent wars with the Orange Free State.
Because of repeated attacks by the Cape Colony, Moshweshwe asked the British for
protection and Lesotho will become a protectorate in 1868. Upon his death, the
country was annexed to Cape Colony, but was returned to the status of British protectorate
in 1884. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, the British honored the
desire of Lesotho ("Basutoland") to remain independent. A protectorate
continued until 1968, protecting Lesotho from incursions from South Africa.
1874 - Frederick Douglass is named president of the failing Freedmen's Bank.
1884 - William Edouard Scott is born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He will study with Henry O.
Tanner at the Art Institute of Chicago. He later will go to Paris, France and study
at the Julien and Colarossi academies. He will also study under Tanner again in
Paris (Tanner had emigrated there) and become best known for his portrait studies of
Haitians, rural life, and landscapes. Many of his murals are on the walls of public
buildings in Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, and New York (135th Street YMCA).
1919 - Mercer Ellington is born in Washington, DC, the only child of Edward
"Duke" Ellington and his wife, Edna. He will become "the keeper of
the flame," the charge his father will give him and one he will readily accept.
In doing so, he will lead the Duke Ellington Orchestra for over twenty years after
replacing his father.
1926 - Ralph David Abernathy is born in Linden, Alabama. He will become a famed
minister, civil rights advocate, and confidant of Martin L. King, Jr. After King's
assassination, he will become the president of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference and write an autobiography that will attract widespread criticism for his
comments on King's alleged womanizing.
1935 - "The Conjure Man Dies," a play by Rudolph Fisher, premieres on Broadway
at the Lafayette Theatre. Fisher, who had joined the ancestors over a year before
the play's premiere, had adapted the play from his 1932 short story "The Conjure-Man
Dies: A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem," considered the first detective fiction by an
1948 - Reginald Weir becomes the first African American to play in the U.S. Indoor Lawn
Tennis Association Championship. He will win his first match, but will be eliminated
on March 13.
1950 - Robert "Bobby" McFerrin is born in New York City. He will be known
for his versatile and innovative a cappella jazz vocals and for his hit song
"Don't Worry Be Happy," which will sell over ten million copies and earn him
three Grammy awards in 1989 in addition to a Grammy for best jazz vocalist.
1956 - A manifesto denouncing the Supreme Court ruling on segregation in public schools,
is issued by one hundred southern senators and representatives.
1959 - "A Raisin in the Sun" becomes the first play written by an African
American woman, Lorraine Hansberry, to open on Broadway. The play will run for 19
months at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, and be named "Best Play" by the New York
Drama Critics Circle, and bring Lloyd Richards to Broadway as the first African American
director in modern times.
1965 - During civil rights demonstrations in Selma, Alabama, the Reverend James J. Reeb, a
white minister from Boston, dies after being beaten by whites.
1968 - Otis Redding posthumously receives a gold record for the single "(Sittin' On)
The Dock of the Bay."
1971 - Whitney M. Young, Jr., executive director of the National Urban League, joins the
ancestors after drowning while swimming during a visit to Lagos, Nigeria.
- 1791 - Benjamin Banneker and Pierre Charles L'Enfant are
commissioned to plan and develop Washington, DC.
1868 - Great Britain gives Basutoland, the status of protectorate at the request of King
Moshweshwe. The request of protection was to prevent attacks by the Cape Colony.
1877 - The British annex Walvis Bay, an important deep water port in South West Africa.
1888 - Hall Johnson is born in Athens, Georgia. In 1925, he will organize and direct
the Hall Johnson Choir as well as have significant success as an arranger. One of
his early stage successes will be as choral director for the 1930 Broadway play "The
Green Pastures" and the 1933 play, "Run Little Chillun," for which he will
write the book and music. Johnson and his choir will move to Hollywood in 1936 to make the
film version of "The Green Pastures."
1926 - The Savoy Ballroom, nicknamed the "Home of Happy Feet," opens in New York
1932 - Andrew Young is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will become a minister,
influential leader in the civil rights movement, first African American ambassador to the
United Nations, and mayor of Atlanta, Georgia.
1936 - Virginia Hamilton is born in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She will become an award-winning
author of juvenile fiction including "House of Dies Drear," "M.C. Higgins
the Great," and "Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush."
1940 - Al Jarreau is born. He will become a singer and will be known for his
recording of the theme for the television show, "Moonlighting". Al Jarreau
will become the first vocalist in musical history to win Grammy Awards in three different
categories (Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, and Pop).
1945 - New York becomes the first state to prohibit discrimination by race and creed in
1955 - Charlie Parker joins the ancestors in New York City at the age of 34. He had
been one of the founders of the modern jazz movement.
1962 - Darryl Strawberry is born in Los Angeles, California. He will become a
professional baseball player and will play right field for the New York Mets, the Los
Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees. He will set the
New York Mets all-time records for most runs (662), most RBIs (733) and most home runs
(252). He will be a member of the winning World Series championship teams in 1986
1964 - Malcolm X resigns from the Nation of Islam.
1982 - Charles Fuller wins the Pulitzer Prize for "A Soldier's Play."
- Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, an explorer of African descent, from Santo Domingo
(Haiti), builds the first permanent settlement at the mouth of the river, just east of the
present Michigan Avenue Bridge on the north bank, of what is now the city of Chicago,
1861 - Jefferson Davis signs a bill authorizing the use of slaves as soldiers in the
1862 - Congress forbids Union officers and soldiers from aiding in the capture and return
of fugitive slaves, ending what one historian called the "military slave hunt."
1869 - Arkansas legislature passes anti-Ku Klux Klan legislation.
1914 - James Reese Europe explains the significance of his Clef Club Symphony Orchestra,
consisting of the best African American musicians in New York City: "... we colored
people have our own music that is a part of us. It's the product of our souls; it's
been created by the sufferings and miseries of our race."
1918 - John Rhoden is born in Birmingham, Alabama. An art student who will study
with Richmond Barthe' and at Talledega College, Rhoden's sculptures will have strong
romantic and classical elements. He will receive commissions for Harlem Hospital and
Metropolitan Hospital in New York City, exhibit his work at the Atlanta University
annuals, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Whitney Museum and be represented in
museums in the United States and Europe. Among his major works will be
"Safari," "Eve," and "Quarter Horse." 1930 - Richard Allen
"Blue" Mitchell is born in Miami, Florida. The trumpeter will make his name as a
member of Horace Silver's Quintet. From 1974, he will play as a soloist or as an
accompanist for Tony Bennett and Lena Horne.
1932 - The "Atlanta World" becomes the first African American daily newspaper in
modern times, when it begins daily publication. It was founded on August 3, 1928, by
William A. Scott, III and became a bi-weekly in 1930.
1943 - Frank Dixon becomes the first great African American miler in track as he wins the
Columbian Mile in New York City. Dixon runs the mile in the record time of 4
minutes, 9.6 seconds.
1946 - Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. becomes the first African American to command an
United States Air Force base, when he assumes command of Lockbourne Air Force Base in
1961 - Floyd Patterson knocks out Ingemar Johannson to retain the heavyweight boxing
1984 - James L. Usry is elected the first African American mayor of Atlantic City, New
Jersey. He will serve as mayor until 1990. A former member of the Harlem
Globetrotters, he became an educator before entering politics.
1999 - Evander Holyfield, the WBA and IBF champion, and Lennox Lewis, the WBC champion,
keep their respective titles after fighting to a controversial draw in New York.
- 1794 - Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin, making it
possible to clean 50 pounds of cotton a day, compared to a pound a day before the
invention. This will make cotton king and increase the demand for slave labor.
1829 - African American editor John Russworm writes an editorial in "Freedom's
Journal" supporting the colonization of Africa by African Americans.
1889 - Menelik becomes ruler of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Menelik II will be the
Ethiopian emperor (1889-1909) during the frantic race for African protectorates by
European countries. He will transform the country from a collection of
semi-independent states into a united nation. As ruler of the kingdom of Shoa, in
central Ethiopia, he will conquer the Oromo people to the south and annex their
land. During Menelik's reign he suppressed the Ethiopian slave trade, curbed the
feudal nobility, and founded the city of Addis Ababa.
1917 - The first training camp for "colored" officers is established by the U.S.
Army in Des Moines, Iowa, after a long lobbying effort by the NAACP, led by Joel E.
Spingarn and James Weldon Johnson. The camp will issue 678 officer commissions to
African Americans, compared to 380,000 African American enlisted men mobilized in World
1933 - Quincy Delight Jones is born in Chicago, Illinois. A trumpeter and
record producer, he will collaborate with many major American and French recording
artists, including Michael Jackson on the latter's "Thriller" and
"Bad" albums, two of the most successful records during the 1980's. A
musical innovator, in 1991, Jones will receive two Grammy awards for producer of the year
and album of the year for "Back on the Block." To date, he will accumulate
over 25 Grammy awards, Grammy's Trustees Award in 1989, and the Grammy's Legends Award in
1990. He will also be Musical Director for Mercury Records, then Vice
President. He will also establish Qwest Records.
1934 - Shirley Scott is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She will become an
accomplished jazz organist, with a blues orientation to most of her presentations.
She started her career playing with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis in 1956 and continued
until 1960. She will record most of her work with her ex-husband, Stanley Turrentine
from 1961 to 1970.
1946 - Wes Unseld is born in Louisville, Kentucky. His early career plans will
include becoming a teacher, but that thought will be put on hold when he becomes the
second overall pick in the 1968 draft by the NBA's Baltimore Bullets. In 1969,
Unseld's debut will be memorable. He becomes only the second NBA player besides Wilt
Chamberlain to be named Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. During a
solid 13-year NBA career, spent entirely with the Bullets organization, Unseld will become
a superb position rebounder and retire as the NBA's seventh all-time leading rebounder
with 13,769 boards, a 14.0 per game average. Unseld, who will play in five NBA
All-Star games, ranks as the Bullets all-time leader in minutes played (35,832) and
rebounds. He is only one of 20 players in NBA history to score more than 10,000
points (10,624) and grab more than 10,000 rebounds. The pinnacle of Unseld's career
will come in 1978, when he and fellow Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes lead Washington past
Seattle for the NBA championship. For his efforts, Unseld will be named MVP of the
championship series. After his retirement from the NBA, he will become the coach of
1947 - William J. Jefferson is born in Lake Providence, Louisiana. He will become a
Louisiana state senator in 1979 and, in 1990, the first congressman elected from the state
since Charles Edmund Nash left office in 1876.
1961 - Kirby Puckett is born. He will become a major league baseball
outfielder. He will be selected by the Minnesota Twins in the first round
(third overall) of the January 1982 free-agent draft and will spend his entire 14-year
professional career in the Twins organization. Not only will he become a 10-time
All-Star, in 1993 he will become the first Twins player ever to win the All-Star Game MVP
Award. He will be the Twins' all-time leader in hits, runs, doubles and total bases.
He will retire on July 12, 1996, after losing vision in his right eye due to
glaucoma, and will become the Twins' executive vice president of baseball.
1967 - In the first NFL-AFL common draft, the Baltimore Colts pick Bubba Smith as the
1985 - Bill Cosby captures four of the People's Choice Awards for "The Cosby
Show." The awards were earned from results of a nationwide Gallup Poll.
- 1809 - Joseph J. Roberts is born free in Norfolk,
Virginia. He will leave Virginia with his family for the West African coast in 1829,
part of the colonization effort of the American Colonization Society. He will become the
first President of Liberia in 1848.
1842 - Robert C. DeLarge is born in Aiken, South Carolina. He will defeat a
white opponent by 986 votes out of 32,000 cast to earn a seat as a South Carolina
representative to the United States Congress in 1870.
1897 - The Fifty-fifth Congress (1897-99) convenes. Only one African American congressman
is in attendance: George H. White, of North Carolina.
1912 - Sam Hopkins is born in Centerville, Texas. He will become a blues guitarist,
better known as Lightnin" Hopkins, and be considered one of the last blues singers in
the grand tradition of "Blind" Lemon Jefferson, with whom he played as a child.
1933 - The NAACP begins a coordinated attack on segregation and discrimination, filing a
suit against the University of North Carolina on behalf of Thomas Hocutt. The case
is lost on a technicality after the president of an African American college refuses to
certify the records of the plaintiff.
1933 - The Los Angeles Sentinel is founded by Leon H. Washington.
1933 - The NAACP's Spingarn Medal is presented to YMCA secretary Max Yergan for his
achievements as a missionary in South Africa, "representing the gift of
cooperation...American Negroes may send back to their Motherland."
1933 - Cecil Taylor is born. He will become a international jazz pianist concert
artist and composer. He will also teach African American music and lead the
Black Music Ensemble at the University of Wisconsin, Antioch College, and Glassboro State
(in New Jersey). He is considered to be one of the most controversial figures in
"jazz". For many observers, his work ranks as some of the most profound
art ever produced.
1938 - Emilio Cruz is born in New York City. He will become a painter who will study in
his teens with the influential African American artist Bob Thompson, study European
masters in Italy, Paris, London, and Amsterdam and become noted in the United States for
both his figurative and abstract paintings. His work will be exhibited or collected by the
Museum of Modern Art, National Museum of American Art, the Studio Museum of Harlem, and
prestigious private galleries.
1944 - Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart is born in Dallas, Texas. He will
become a popular disc jockey in the San Francisco Bay area. This popularity will
fuel his career as a musician and singer. He will achieve fame with his group: Sly
& The Family Stone and record the hits "Dance to the Music," "Everyday
People," "Hot Fun in the Summertime," "Thank You," and
1946 - Bobby Bonds is born in Riverside, California. He will become a major league
baseball player and hit a grand slam in his first Major League game on June 25,1968
against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will be a 3-time All-Star (1971 and 1973 in the
National League and 1975 in the American League). He will amass a total 332 home
runs, 1,024 RBIs, 461 stolen bases and a .268 batting average for 8 teams. He will
hold the Major League record for most HRs as a lead-off batter in a game in a season with
11 in 1973. He will be named by The Sporting News as the National League Player of
the Year in 1973, hitting .283 with 39 homers, 96 RBI and 43 stolen bases.
1946 - Howard Scott is born. He will become a Rhythm and Blues singer, guitarist,
and best known for his performances as part of the group "War."
1958 - Cincinnati Royals basketball star Maurice Stokes collapses during a playoff game
suffering with encephalitis. It will be determined that this was the result of an
earlier injury, when his head hit the floor, knocking him unconscious, in the last game of
the regular season. He will go into a coma and become permanently disabled.
1959 - Saxophonist and major influence on the "Cool School" of jazz, Lester
"Prez" Young joins the ancestors at the age of 49 in New York City.
1962 - Terence Trent D'Arby is born in New York City. He will become a popular
Rhythm and Blues singer, music producer, songwriter, and composer. He will be best
known for his recording "Wishing Well."
1962 - Wilt Chamberlain becomes the first and only player in NBA history to score more
than 4,000 points in a season (4,029). He will average 50.4 points per game.
1968 - "LIFE" magazine calls Jimi Hendrix "the most spectacular guitarist
in the world."
1968 - Bob Beamon sets an indoor long jump record as he leaps 27 feet, 2-3/4 inches.
1969 - St. Clair Drake is named director of the African and Afro American Studies program
at Stanford University. Drake's accomplishments in the position will form a model
for such programs across the country.
1970 - The musical, "Purlie" opens a run of 680 continuous performances on
Broadway in New York City.
1980 - Scores of people are injured in Klan-related incidents in Georgia, Tennessee,
California, Indiana and North Carolina.
1985 - Larry Holmes beats David Bey in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was probably good for
Bey, since no one had ever heard of him before the fight. Holmes defends his
International Boxing Federation heavyweight boxing title with the win.
1991 - Four Los Angeles police officers--Sergeant Stacey Koon and Officers Laurence
Powell, Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno-- are charged with felony assault and related
charges arising from the Rodney King beating.
Updated by K. Ferguson Kelly:
March 16, 2002