16 -31 October in Black History
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- 1849 - George Washington Williams is born in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania. He
will become the first major African American historian and founder of two African American
newspapers, "The Commoner" in Washington, DC, and Cincinnati's "The
1849 - Charles L. Reason is named professor of belles-lettres and French at Central
College in McGrawville, New York. William G. Allen and George B. Vashon also will
teach at the predominantly white college.
1855 - More than one hundred delegates from six states hold a Black convention in
1855 - John Mercer Langston, one of the first African Americans to win public office, is
elected clerk of Brownhelm Township, Lorain County, Ohio.
1859 - Osborne Perry Anderson, a free man, is one of five African Americans in John
Brown's raid on the United States Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.
1872 - South Carolina Republicans carry the election with a ticket of four whites and four
Blacks: Richard H. Gleaves, lieutenant governor; Henry E. Hayne, secretary of state;
Francis L. Cardozo, treasurer; and Henry W. Purvis, adjutant general. African Americans
win 97 of the 158 seats in the General Assembly and four of the five congressional
1876 - A race riot occurs in Cainhoy, South Carolina. Five whites and one African
American are killed.
1895 - The National Medical Association is founded in Atlanta, Georgia.
1901 - Booker T. Washington dines at the White House with President Theodore Roosevelt and
is criticized in the South.
1932 - Chi Eta Phi sorority is founded in Washington, DC. Aliene Carrington Ewell
and 11 other women establish the nursing society, which will grow to 72 chapters in 22
states, the District of Columbia, and Liberia and will eventually admit both men and
1968 - Tommie Smith and John Carlos hold up their fists in a Black Power salute during the
1968 Summer Games in Mexico City, Mexico. Their actions will come to symbolize the Black
Power movement in sports and will result in their suspension from the games two days
1973 - Maynard Jackson becomes the first African American mayor of a major southern city
when he was elected mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. Jackson, at the age of 35, becomes
one of the youngest mayors of a major city to ever be elected.
1984 - Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for
his role as a unifying figure in the campaign to resolve the problems of apartheid in
1990 - Art Blakey, jazz drummer (Jazz Messengers), joins the ancestors, after a bout with
cancer, at the age of 71.
1995 - Minister Louis Farrakhan of The Nation of Islam speaks at The Million Man March in
Washington, D.C., which he called for, and organized. It is known as the "Day
2000 - The Million Family March, called for by Minister Louis Farrakhan, is held in
- 1711 - Jupiter Hammon, the first African American to publish poetry (Complete Works), is
1787 - Boston African Americans, led by Prince Hall, submit to the State Legislature in
Boston, Massachusetts, a petition asking for equal educational rights and facilities.
The petition is not granted.
1806 - Jean Jacques Dessalines, revolutionist and Emperor of Haiti, joins the ancestors as
a result of an assassination.
1817 - Samuel Ringgold Ward is born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He will be
considered one of the finest abolitionist orators.
1871 - President Grant suspends the writ of habeas corpus and declares martial law in nine
South Carolina counties affected by Ku Klux Klan disturbances.
1888 - The first African American bank, Capital Savings Bank of Washington, DC, opens for
1894 - Ohio National Guard kills 3 members of a lynch mob while rescuing an African
1909 - William R. Cole is born in East Orange, New Jersey. He will become a jazz
drummer best known as "Cozy Cole." He will begin to play professionally as
a teenager and will make his first recording at age 20 with Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot
Peppers. Cozy Cole will join Cab Calloway's band in 1939 and will join CBS radio in
1943 to play in Raymond Scott's Orchestra, becoming one of the first African American
musicians on a network musical staff. In 1958, Cole will make a solo hit record,
"Topsy," that sells more than a million copies. He will join the ancestors
1928 - James "Junior" Gilliam is born. He will become a professional
baseball player for the Brooklyn Dodgers and will be the National League Rookie of the
Year in 1953.
1956 - Dr. Mae C. Jemison is born in Decatur, Alabama. She will grow up in Chicago, become
a physician, serve in the Peace Corps in Africa, and practice medicine in Los Angeles,
before being selected for the astronaut training program in 1987.
1969 - Dr. Clifton R. Wharton Jr., is elected president of Michigan State University and
becomes the first African American to head a major, predominantly white university in the
1985 - Legendary jazz and blues singer Alberta Hunter joins the ancestors in New York
City. She achieved fame in Chicago jazz clubs in the 1920's, toured Europe in the
1930's and, after over 20 years of anonymity as a nurse, returned to performing in 1977.
1990 - Dr. Ralph Abernathy, civil rights leader, joins the ancestors.
1991 - The 100th episode of "A Different World" airs on NBC. The acclaimed
show, a spin-off of "The Cosby Show" that stars Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison,
and an ensemble of young African American actors, is directed by Debbie Allen.
- 1910 - Felix Houphouet-Boigny is born in the Ivory Coast when it was part of French
colonial West Africa. In 1960, after the Ivory Coast (Cote' d'Ivoire) gains independence
from France, he will become President, and hold that office until he joins the ancestors
1926 - Charles Edward Berry is born in St. Louis, Missouri. He will become one of the
foremost legends in rock and roll and known as "Chuck" Berry. In the early
Fifties, Berry will lead a popular blues trio by night and work as a beautician by day.
After befriending Muddy Waters, he will be introduced to Leonard Chess of Chess
Records, who signs him to a recording contract.
Chuck Berry will also be successful in crossing over to the largely white pop
market. His hits will include "Maybellene," "Rock and Roll
Music," "School Days," "Johnny B. Goode," "Sweet Little
Sixteen," "No Particular Place to Go," "You Never Can Tell,"
"Promised Land," and "My Ding-a-Ling." He will inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
1942 - Willie Horton is born. He will become a professional baseball player with the
Detroit Tigers, known for his power hitting ability.
1945 - Paul Robeson, actor, singer, athlete and activist, receives the NAACP's Spingarn
1953 - Willie Thrower becomes the first African American NFL quarterback in modern times.
1961 - Wynton Marsalis is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. A jazz trumpeter from the
famous Marsalis family, which includes father Ellis and brothers Branford and Delfayo, he
will at 19, become a member of Art Blakely's Jazz Messengers and in 1984 be the first
musician to win Grammys for jazz and classical music recordings simultaneously.
1968 - Bob Beamon of the United States, wins an Olympic gold medal in the Mexico City
Summer Games. His long jump of 29'-2.5" betters the world record by over 21".
1968 - United States Olympic Committee suspends Tommie Smith & John Carlos for giving
a "black power" salute as a protest during a victory ceremony in Mexico City on
1973 - "Raisin", a musical adaptation of the Lorraine Hansberry play, "A
Raisin in the Sun", opens on Broadway. It marks the debut of Debbie Allen in
the role of Beneatha Younger and will act as the catalyst for her further success in
television and choreography.
1974 - The Chicago Bull's Nate Thurmond, becomes first player in the NBA to complete a
quadruple double - 22 pts, 14 rebounds, 13 assists & 12 blocks.
1977 - Reggie Jackson hits 3 consecutive home runs, tying Babe Ruth's World Series
record. The Yankees beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 for 21st world championship,
the first in 15 years.
1990 - Filmmaker Charles Burnett's 1977 movie "Killer of Sheep" is declared a
"national treasure" by the Library of Congress. It is among the first 50 films
placed in the National Film Registry because of its significance. Burnett's film
joins other significant films such as "All About Eve", "The
Godfather", and "Top Hat."
- 1859 - Byrd Prillerman is born a slave in Shady Grove, Franklin County, Virginia.
He will become an educator, reformer, religious worker, political figure, and lawyer. He
will be best known as the co-founder of the West Virginia Colored Institute in 1891.
The school will be changed to the West Virginia Collegiate Institute in 1915. The school,
under Prillerman's leadership, will become the first state school for African Americans to
reach the rank of an accredited college whose work is accepted by the universities of the
North. The school will eventually become West Virginia State College, then West
Virginia State University.
1870 - The first African Americans are elected to the House of Representatives.
African American Republicans won three of the four congressional seats in South Carolina:
Joseph H. Rainey, Robert C. DeLarge and Robert B. Elliott. Rainey was elected to an
un-expired term in the Forty-first Congress and was the first African American seated in
1920 - LaWanda Page is born in Cleveland, Ohio. She will become an television and
movie actress and will star in "Mausoleum," "Women Tell the Dirtiest
Jokes," "Shakes the Clown," and "Don't Be a Menace." She will be
best known for her role as Aunt Esther in the long-running television series,
"Sanford and Sons."
1924 - "From Dixie to Broadway" premieres at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York
City. The music is written by Will Vodery, an African American, who arranged music for the
Ziegfeld Follies for 23 years.
1936 - Johnnetta Betsch (later Cole) is born in Jacksonville, Florida. She will have
a distinguished career as an educator and administrator and will become the first African
American woman to head Spelman College.
1944 - Peter Tosh is born in Westmoreland, Jamaica. He will become a founding father
of reggae music and be part of the song writing magic of the Wailers, Bob Marley's group.
He will join the ancestors in 1987.
1944 - The Navy announces that African American women would be allowed to become WAVES
(Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
1946 - The first exhibition of the work of Josef Nassy, an American citizen of
Dutch-African descent, is held in Brussels. The exhibit consists of 90 paintings and
drawings Nassy created while in a Nazi-controlled internment camp during World War II.
1960 - Jennifer Holiday is born. She will become a singer and actress and will have
her first big break as a star in the Broadway production of "Dream Girls" in
1960 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested in an Atlanta, Georgia sit-in
1962 - Evander Holyfield is born in Atmore, Alabama. He will become a professional
boxer. Over the course of his career, he will become IBF Heavyweight Champion, WBA
Heavyweight Champion, three time World Champion, and Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion.
1981 - The Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and Archives opens in Atlanta, Georgia.
Founded by Coretta Scott King, the facility is the largest repository in the world of
primary resource material on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., nine major civil rights
organizations, and the American civil rights movement.
1983 - Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop joins the ancestors after being
assassinated after refusing to share leadership of the New Jewel Movement with his deputy,
Bernard Coard. This event will indirectly lead to the invasion of Grenada by the
United States and six Caribbean nations.
1983 - The U.S. Senate approves the establishment of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal
holiday on the third Monday in January.
1988 - South African anti-apartheid leader, Walter Sisulu wins a $100,000 Human Rights
- 1895 - Rex Ingram is born near Cairo, Illinois. He will attend medical school and
earn a Phi Beta Kappa key but forsake medicine for the stage, becoming a powerful actor on
the stage and screen, most notably as "De Lawd" in the 1936 film "The Green
Pastures." He will also appear in "Cabin in the Sky" and "Anna
1898 - North Carolina Mutual Life and Provident Association is organized by seven African
Americans: John Merrick, Dr. Aaron M. Moore, P.W. Dawkins, D.T. Watson, W.G. Pearson, E.A.
Johnson, and James E. Shepard. Each invests $50 in the company, which will grow to
become North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and have over $211 million in assets
and over $8 billion of insurance in force by 1991.
1924 - The "First Colored World Series" of baseball is held in Kansas City,
Missouri. The series, which pits the Kansas City Monarchs against the Hillsdale team
from Darby, Pennsylvania, is won by the Monarchs, five games to four, and was organized by
1932 - Roosevelt Brown is born in Charlottesville, Virginia. He will become a
football star at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland, and will be drafted in the
27th round by the New York Giants in 1953. Over his career he will be All-NFL
for eight straight years (1956-1963), play in nine Pro Bowl games, and named NFL's Lineman
of Year (1956). He will play for the Giants for 13 seasons and will be elected to the NFL
Hall of Fame in 1975.
1942 - Sixty leading southern African Americans issued the "Durham Manifesto",
calling for fundamental changes in race relations after a Durham, North Carolina, meeting.
1953 - Jomo Kenyatta and five other Mau Mau leaders are refused an appeal of their prison
terms in British East Africa (Kenya). Members of the Mau Mau guerilla troops all
took an oath to commit themselves to expelling all white settlers in Kenya and to
eliminate the Africans who cooperated with or benefited from colonial rule.
1963 - Jim Brown, of the Cleveland Browns, sets the then NFL all-time rushing record,
1963 - South Africa begins the trial of Nelson Mandela & eight others on charges of
1967 - An all-white federal jury in Meridian, Mississippi convicts 7 white men in the
murder of 3 civil rights workers. They are convicted of civil rights' violations.
1968 - Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux, joins the ancestors at the age of 84. His
church services were broadcast weekly, first on radio, then on television. The
theme song of his broadcasts was "Happy am I, I'm always happy!"
1976 - New York Nets' (ABA), Julius "Dr. J" Erving is sold to the Philadelphia
76ers. This will be the beginning of his All-Star career in the NBA.
1989 - The Senate convicts U.S. District Judge Alcee L. Hastings of perjury and conspiracy
and removed him from office. The conviction will be overturned and Hastings is later
elected to the House of Representatives.
- 1832 - Maria W. Stewart, an African American women's rights and abolitionist speaker,
says in her farewell address ...for it's not the color of the skin that makes the man or
woman, but the principle formed in the soul."
1865 - Jamaican National Hero, George William Gordon, is unfairly arrested and charged for
complicity in what is now called the Morant Bay Rebellion. George William Gordon was
a free colored land owner. Born to a slave mother and a planter father, who was
attorney to several sugar estates in Jamaica, he was self-educated and became a landowner
in St. Thomas. Gordon had urged the people to protest against and to resist the
oppressive and unjust conditions under which they were forced to live. He is
illegally tried by court martial and, in spite of a lack of evidence, convicted and
sentenced to death.
1872 - John H. Conyers, Sr. becomes the first African American admitted to the United
States Naval Academy.
1917 - John Birks ("Dizzy") Gillespie is born in Cheraw, South Carolina. He
will, with Charlie Parker and Theolonious Monk, be the founder of the revolutionary bebop
movement in the very early 1940's. His music accomplishments will include formation
of the Dee Gee and Verve labels. He will perform in clubs and concert halls in
Harlem, Canada and Europe. His music will earn him a Grammy Award in 1974 and 1980.
1950 - Ronald E. McNair is born in Lake City, South Carolina. He will become an
astronaut and the first African American astronaut to perish during a mission (Challenger
- STS 41B, 51L disaster).
1950 - Earl Lloyd, becomes the first African American person to play in an NBA game
(beating out Charles Cooper and Nat Clifton by one day). He will later become the
first African American NBA Assistant Coach and first African American NBA chief scout.
1969 - A bloodless coup occurs in Somalia (National Day).
1977 - The United States recalls William Bowdler, ambassador to South Africa, due to the
country's apartheid policies.
1979 - The Black Fashion Museum is opened in Harlem by Lois Alexander to highlight the
achievements and contributions of African Americans to fashion.
1980 - Valerie Thomas invents the illusion transmitter.
1989 - Bertram M. Lee and Peter C.B. Bynoe sign an agreement to purchase the National
Basketball Association's Denver Nuggets for $54 million. They become the first
African American owners of a professional basketball team.
1999 - Gaston T. Neal, a community activist and influential performance poet, who was best
known for his work in the genre of the Black power movement and social change, joins the
ancestors after a bout with lymphatic cancer, at his home in Washington, DC.
- 1854 - James Bland is born in Flushing, New York. He will write over 700 songs
including "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" and "Carry Me Back to Old
Virginny." The latter song will be selected in 1940 as the state song of Virginia,
the state's legislators little knowing the identity and race of its composer.
Virginia will decide to change their state song in the late 1990s due to protest from
civil rights activists who say that the song glorifies slavery and is inappropriate.
1906 - Three thousand African Americans demonstrated and rioted in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania to protest a theatrical presentation of Thomas Dixon's "The
1936 - Bobby Seal is born in Dallas, Texas. He will become a Black political activist and
co-founder, with Huey Newton, of the Black Panther Party.
1950 - Charles Cooper and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton become two of the first three
African Americans to play in an NBA game. Cooper had been drafted by the Boston
Celtics on April 25, 1950, becoming the first African American ever drafted by a NBA team.
1952 - Frank E. Peterson, Jr. is commissioned as the first African American marine
1955 - The first African American post office opens in Atlanta, Georgia.
1963 - 225,000 students boycott Chicago public schools in a Freedom Day protest against de
1986 - In an interview with the Washington Post, Spike Lee says, "Movies are the most
powerful medium in the world and we just can't sit back and let other people define our
existence, especially when they're putting lies out there on the screens."
1990 - President Bush vetos major civil rights legislation, arguing that the measure would
force employers to adopt hiring quotas. The veto is later upheld.
1991 - Thirty African American delegates conclude a three-day visit to the Republic of
South Africa at the invitation of the African National Congress. While there,
TransAfrica's Randall Robinson charges President Bush with failing to exert his influence
to end Black township strife and Congresswoman Maxine Waters vows to press United States'
cities and states to maintain sanctions against the republic.
- 1775 - The Continental Congress approves resolution prohibiting the enlistment of
African Americans in the Army.
1783 - Virginia emancipates slaves who fought for independence during the Revolutionary
1790 - A major slave revolt occurs in Haiti, which is later suppressed.
1847 - William Leidesdorff brings his ship Sitka from Sitka, Alaska, to San Francisco,
California. Earlier in the year, the Danish West Indies Native had launched the
first steamboat ever to sail in San Francisco Bay. The ventures were one of many
activities for Leidesdorff, which included appointment as United States vice-counsel for
property acquisition in San Francisco.
1886 - Wiley Jones operates the first streetcar system in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
1911 - Three organizations, The Committee for Improving the Industrial Conditions of
Negroes in New York, The Committee on Urban Conditions and The National League for the
Protection of Colored Women merge, under the leadership of Dr. George E. Hayne and Eugene
Kinckle Jones, to form the National Urban League. Eugene Kinckle Jones is named
1940 - Edson Arantes do Nascimento is born in a small village in Brasil called Trjs
Coragues in the Brasilian state of Minas Gerais. He will become a soccer player and
at the age of sixteen will join the Brasilian National team. He will be known
world-wide as Pele', seen as greatest player in history of soccer. After retiring
from his team, the Santos, he will be recruited to play for the New York Cosmos in 1971,
playing an additional three years. He will score 1,281 goals in his career.
1945 - Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers signs Jackie Robinson to the club's Triple A
farm team, the Montreal Royals. In a little under 18 months, Robinson will be called
up to the majors, the first African American to play major league baseball in the
1947 - The NAACP petition on racism and racial injustice, "An Appeal to the
World," is presented to the United Nations at Lake Success, New York.
1951 - The NAACP pickets the Stork Club in support of Josephine Baker, who had been
refused admission to the club a week earlier. After a city-convened special committee
calls Baker's charges unfounded, Thurgood Marshall will call the findings a "complete
and shameless whitewash of the long-established and well-known discriminatory policies of
the Stork Club."
1968 - Kip Keino of Kenya wins an Olympic Gold Medal for the 1,500 meter run (3 min 34.9
- 1892 - 25,000 African American workers strike in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is
the first major job stoppage in U.S. labor history by African Americans.
1923 - The U.S. Department of Labor issues a report stating that approximately 500,000
African Americans had left the South in the preceding twelve months.
1935 - Langston Hughes's play "Mulatto" opens on Broadway. It will have
the longest run of any play by an African American until Lorraine Hansberry's "A
Raisin in the Sun."
1935 - Italy invades Ethiopia. African Americans hold mass meetings of protest and raise
funds for the Ethiopian defenders.
1936 - The Boston Chronicle blasts the soon-to-be-released movie "The Big
Broadcast" of 1937 for featuring a white pianist who appears in the movie while Teddy
Wilson actually plays the music: "The form of racial discrimination and falsification
of acts...is frequently duplicated by many whites in their daily dealings with
Negroes...Negro farm hands and laborers in other fields of industry produce billions of
dollars of wealth, but the white landowners and sweat shop operators get all the
1942 - In recognition of the influence of so-called race music, Billboard magazine creates
its first ratings chart devoted to African American music, The Harlem Hit Parade.
The number-one record is "Take It & Git" by Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds
of Joy, featuring Mary Lou Williams on piano.
1948 - Frizzel Gray is born in Baltimore, Maryland. Better known as Kweisi Mfume, an
adopted African name that means "Conquering Son of Kings," he will be elected a
congressman from Maryland's 7th District in 1986. He will later leave the
Congress to become the head of the NAACP.
1964 - Kenneth David Kuanda becomes President of Zambia as Zambia (Northern Rhodesia)
gains independence from Great Britain.
1972 - Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson joins the ancestors at the age of 53 in
- 1806 - Benjamin Banneker joins the ancestors at the age of 74 in Ellicott Mills,
Maryland. Banneker was a self-taught mathematician and builder (at age 21) of the
first striking clock built in the United States. An amateur astronomer, Banneker's
calculations for solar and lunar eclipses appeared in 29 editions of his almanacs,
published from 1792 to 1797.
1915 - Attorney James L. Curtis is named minister to Liberia.
1926 - Crisis magazine, led by editor W.E.B. DuBois, awards its first prizes in literature
and art. Among the winners will be Arna Bontemps' poem "Nocturne at
Bethesda," Countee Cullen's poem "Thoughts in a Zoo," Aaron Douglas'
painting "African Chief" and a portrait by Hale Woodruff.
1940 - The Committee on the Participation of Negroes in the National Defense Program met
with President Roosevelt.
1940 - The National Newspaper Publishers Association is founded.
1940 - The Spingarn Medal is presented to Dr. Louis T. Wright for his civil rights
leadership and his contributions as a surgeon.
1940 - Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. is promoted to Brigadier General, the first African
American to attain that rank in the United States Army or any other branch of the Armed
1958 - Ten thousand students, led by Jackie Robinson, Harry Belfonte and A. Phillip
Randolph, participate in the Youth March for integrated schools in Washington, DC.
1958 - Daisy Bates, head of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP, and the nine students who
integrated Little Rocks's Central High School are awarded the Spingarn Medal for their
courage and leadership in the civil rights struggle.
1962 - Uganda is admitted as the 110th member of the United Nations.
1968 - The city of Chicago officially recognizes Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable as its
1973 - Abebe Bikila, Ethiopian marathoner who won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1960 and 1964,
joins the ancestors at the age of 46.
1976 - Clarence "Willie" Norris, the last surviving member of the nine
Scottsboro Boys, who were convicted in 1931 of the alleged rape of two white women on a
freight train, is pardoned by Governor George Wallace. Norris had spent 15 years in
prison and had been a fugitive fleeing parole in Alabama in 1946.
1983 - Mary Francis Berry, professor of history and law at Howard University, and two
other members of the Civil Rights Commission are fired by President Ronald Reagan.
Considered a champion of minority concerns on the Commission, Berry will charge the
administration with attempting to "shut up" criticism. She will later sue and be
1983 - The United States and six other Caribbean nations invade the island nation of
1988 - Two units of the Ku Klux Klan and eleven individuals are ordered to pay $1 million
to African Americans who were attacked during a brotherhood rally in predominately white
Forsythe County, Georgia.
1990 - Evander Holyfield knocks out James "Buster" Douglas in the third round of
their twelve-round fight to become the undisputed world heavyweight champion.
Holyfield's record stood at 25-0, with 21 knockouts.
1997 - The Million Woman March, organized by grass root sisters, led by Sister Phile
Chionesu and Sister Asia Coney, takes place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The event
is attended by 1.3 million attendees (300,000 to 1 million according to Philadelphia
officials). The MWM had been promoted by word of mouth and avoided traditional media
and mainstream groups, such as sororities and many civil rights groups. Sis.
Chionesu calls the march "a declaration of independence from ignorance, poverty,
enslavement, and all the things that have happened to us that has helped to bring about
the confusion and disharmony that we experience with one another."
- 1868 - White terrorists kill several African Americans in St. Bernard Parish, near New
1868 - B.F. Randolph, state senator and chairman of the state Republican party, is
assassinated in broad daylight at Hodges Depot in Abbeville, South Carolina.
1911 - Mahalia Jackson is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Known as the "Gospel
Queen," Jackson will become instrumental in the popularization of gospel music and
songs. Jackson's traditional gospel audiences transcended beyond African American
churchgoers through her recordings, radio performances and concert tours in America and
abroad. Her recordings will sell millions of copies. She will join the ancestors on
January 27, 1972.
1919 - Edward William Brooke III is born in Washington, DC. After serving in World
War II and obtaining a law degree from Boston University, he will be elected attorney
general of the State of Massachusetts and serve a term of four years before being elected
to the United States Senate as a Republican in 1966, the first African American Senator
elected since Reconstruction. In the Senate, Brooke will oppose President Nixon's
policies in Southeast Asia, advocate low-income housing, and oppose quotas to meet
affirmative action goals. Among his awards will be the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in
1921 - Solomon Porter Hood is named minister to Liberia.
1934 - At a New York City conference, representatives of the NAACP and the American Fund
for Public Service plan a coordinated legal campaign against segregation and
discrimination. Charles H. Houston, Vice-dean of the Howard University Law School,
is named director of the NAACP legal campaign.
1950 - Chuck Foreman is born. He will become a star running back for the Minnesota
Vikings. He will be NFC Rookie of the Year in 1973 and NFC Player of the Year in
1974 and 1976. He will also play in losing efforts in Super Bowls VIII, IX, and XI.
1951 - William Collins is born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He will become a rhythm and
blues performer and bandleader known as "Bootsy" Collins. He will
form his first group, the Pacesetters, in 1968. From 1969 to 1971, the group will
function as James Brown's backup band and will be dubbed the JB's. In 1972, Bootsy will
join George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic. He will launch Bootsy's Rubber Band as a
spin-off of P-Funk in 1976. He will record with Warner Brothers from 1976 through
1982. After a six year hiatus, he will sign with Columbia Records in 1988 and
actively record into the 1990s.
1951 - Joe Louis is defeated by Rocky Marciano in the eighth round in a bout at Madison
1962 - Louise Beavers, who starred in more than 100 films, including "Imitation of
Life", "The Jackie Robinson Story", and "Mr. Blandings Builds His
Dream House", joins the ancestors in Los Angeles, California.
1970 - Following 3 1/2 years of forced isolation from boxing, Muhammad Ali returns to the
ring and beats Jerry Quarry in Atlanta, Georgia.
1976 - Trinidad & Tobago becomes a republic.
1977 - Dr. Clifford R. Wharton Jr. is named chancellor of the State University of New
1980 - Ten African American Roman Catholic bishops issue a pastoral letter asserting that
"the Church must seize the initiative to 'share the gift of our blackness with the
Church in the United States.'"
- 1891 - Charles H. Garvin is born in Jacksonville, Florida. He will become the
first African American physician commissioned in World War I.
1891 - Philip B. Downing, invents the street letter box and is awarded patent # 462,093.
1924 - Ruby Dee is born in Cleveland, Ohio. She will become one of the foremost actresses
in America, beginning her career on Broadway in the early 1940's. She will marry actor
Ossie Davis and have a strong personal career with such notable stage roles as "A
Raisin in the Sun", "Purlie Victorious", and "The Taming of the
Shrew" as well as work in numerous television series and movies including
"Raisin", "Do the Right Thing", and "Jungle Fever."
1951 - Jayne Kennedy is born in Washington, DC. She will become an actress, writer
and producer. Her movie credits will include "Fighting Mad," "Body
and Soul," "Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women," "Cover Girls,"
"The Muthers," and "Group Marriage."
1954 - Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. becomes the first African American general in the history of
the United States Air Force. He is designated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1960 - Martin Luther King Jr. is released on bond from the Georgia State Prison in
Reidsville. Political observers say the John F. Kennedy call for King's release
increased the number of African American voters who ensured his election.
1971 - The Republic of the Congo becomes the Republic of Zaire.
1978 - President Carter signs the Hawkins-Humphrey full employment bill.
1979 - St Vincent & the Grenadines becomes independent of Great Britain.
1981 - Andrew Young, former United Nations Ambassador, is elected mayor of Atlanta,
- 1862 - The First Kansas Colored Volunteers, while greatly outnumbered, repulse and drive
off a rebel force at Island Mound, Missouri. This is the first engagement for African
American troops in the Civil War.
1873 - Patrick Healy becomes president of Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic
University in the United States and becomes the first African American president of a
predominantly white university in the United States.
1914 - Omega Psi Phi fraternity is incorporated. Founded in 1911 by three students, Frank
Coleman, Oscar J. Cooper and Edgar A. Love and their faculty adviser, Ernest Everett Just,
the fraternity will grow to have over 90,000 members in chapters throughout the United
States and abroad.
1937 - Lenny Wilkens is born. He will become a professional basketball player for
the St. Louis Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle
Supersonics. He will also coach every team for which he played. In 1995, he
will surpass Red Auerbach as the NBA winningest coach, with his 939th victory. On March 1,
1996, he will become the first coach to win 1,000 regular season games. He and John
Wooden will become the only two persons to be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a
player and coach.
1948 - Telma Hopkins, singer(Tony Orlando and Dawn) and actress(Family Matters), is born
in Louisville, Kentucky.
1965 - Earl Bostic, popular jazz alto saxophonist and winner of the 1959 Playboy Jazz
poll, joins the ancestors in Rochester, New York. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native had
begun his career in the Midwest and, after studying music and playing with bands in the
South, landed with Lionel Hampton's big band, among others.
1973 - Elmore Smith of the Los Angeles Lakers blocks 17 shots in a game to establish a NBA
1981 - Edward M. McIntyre is elected as the first African American mayor of Augusta,
1902 - The Dinwiddle Quartet from Virginia is the first African
American singing group on record when they record six single sided discs, including
"Down at the Old Camp Ground," on the Victory Talking Machine Company's Monarch
1923 - Runnin' Wild opens at the Colonial Theater, Broadway. Miller and Lyles
Productions introduced the Charleston to New York and the world.
1924 - Dixie to Broadway, "the first real revue by Negroes," opens at the
Broadhurst Theater, New York City, with Florence Mills in the starring role.
1929 - The collapse of the stock market and the beginning of the Great Depression.
By 1937, 26 per cent of African American males will be unemployed.
1945 - Beatrice Moore is born in New York, New York. She will become an actress and
singer better known as Melba Moore. Her big break will come when she joins the cast of the
Broadway musical "Hair." She will eventually win the lead role. It will be the
first time that an African American actress replaces a white actress (Diane Keaton) for a
lead role on Broadway. That engagement will be followed with another Broadway hit,
"Purlie," which earns her a Tony Award and rave reviews. This success
will be followed by appearances in film and television. In addition to her success
in acting, she will have a fruitful recording career.
1947 - The President's Committee on Civil Rights condemns racial injustices in America in
a formal report, "To Secure These Rights."
1947 - Texas Southern University is established.
1947 - The NAACP Spingarn Medal is awarded to Dr. Percy L. Julian for his achievements as
1949 - Alonzo G. Moron, from the Virgin Islands, becomes the first person of African
descent to become president of Hampton Institute (now University) in Hampton, Virginia.
1960 - Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) boxes in his first professional fight, beating Tunney
Hunsaker in 6 rounds.
1961 - Randy Jackson is born in Gary, Indiana. He will become a member of the famed family
group, "The Jackson Five."
1969 - Johnson Products Company of Chicago, Illinois, the largest African American
hair-care products manufacturer, is incorporated. Founded by George Johnson in 1954,
in 1971, it will become the first African American owned company listed on the American
1969 - The U.S. Supreme Court states that school systems must end segregation "at
once" and "operate now and hereafter only unitary schools." In the
Mississippi case, Alexander v. Holmes, the Court abandons the principle of "all
1974 - Muhammad Ali defeats George Foreman in Zaire to regain his heavyweight crown in a
fight billed as "The Rumble in the Jungle." In addition to the fight being
the first heavyweight title fight held in Africa, it is the 14th Anniversary of Ali's
professional boxing debut.
1981 - William Otis Walker, publisher of the "Cleveland Call & Post," joins
the ancestors at the age of 85. He was the first African American to hold a post in
the Ohio Cabinet in 1963, and was national chairman for "Black Republicans for Reagan
and Bush" in 1980.
1987 - Thomas Hearns wins an unprecedented 4th boxing title in different weight classes.
- 1945 - Booker T. Washington entered the Hall of Fame for Great Americans
- 1893 - Football player, William Henry Lewis, is named as an All-American. He is
the first African American athlete to receive this honor.
1900 - Ethel Waters is born in Chester, Pennsylvania. She will become a famous blues
singer, the first woman to perform W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," and an
actress known for her roles in the movie "Cabin in the Sky" and such stageplays
as "Member of the Wedding", for which she will be nominated for a New York Drama
Critics Award. She will join the ancestors on September 1, 1977.
1935 - John Henry Lewis wins the world light heavyweight crown in St. Louis, Missouri by
defeating Bob Olin. He will become the first American-born light heavyweight
champion to retire undefeated.
1945 - Educator, Booker T. Washington, is inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great
1953 - John Lucas is born. He will become a professional basketball player and play
guard for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks. He will become a NBA coach after
retiring as a player.
1969 - A racially motivated civil disturbance occurs in Jacksonville, Florida. The
disturbance is caused by tensions between whites and Blacks during civil rights
Updated by K. Ferguson
Kelly: March 16, 2002