01 -15 September in Black History
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- 1867 - Robert T. Freeman becomes the first African American person to graduate from
Harvard Dental School.
1875 - White Democrats attacked Republicans at Yazoo City, Mississippi. One white
and three African-Americans were killed.
1912 - Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, English-born composer of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast and
professor of music at Trinity College of Music in London, joins the ancestors in Croyden,
England. Coleridge-Taylor was the most important black composer of his day and
toured the United States three times, where he played with Will Marion Cook, Clarence
Cameron White, and collaborated with Paul Laurence Dunbar in setting several of his poems
1925 - Rosa Guy is born in Trinidad. She will become the author of "The
Friends," "Ruby," and "Edith Jackson."
1937 - Ron O'Neal is born in Utica, New York. He will become an actor and will star
in movies during the 1970's and be best known for his role in "Superfly."
1948 - William T. Coleman is appointed by Justice Frankfurter as a clerk to the U.S.
Supreme Court, the first African American to hold the position. A Harvard Law School
graduate and Army Air Corps veteran, Coleman will again enter public service, first as
president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and, in 1975, as Secretary of
Transportation under President Gerald Ford.
1970 - Dr. Hugh S. Scott of Washington, DC, becomes the first African American
superintendent of schools in a major US. city.
1971 - The Pittsburgh Pirates field an all African American team in a baseball game
against the Philadelphia Phillies.
1973 - George Foreman knocks out Jose Roman in the first round to retain his heavyweight
1975 - General Daniel ("Chappie") James Jr. is promoted to the rank of four-star
general and named commander-in-chief of the North American Air Defense Command. He
is the first African American to achieve this rank.
1977 - Ethel Waters, singer and actress, joins the ancestors in Chatsworth, California at
the age of 80. She was the first African American entertainer to move from
vaudeville to 'white' entertainment. She starred in many movies such as
"Something Special" (1971), "Carib Gold" (1955), "The Member of
the Wedding" (1952), "Pinky" (1949), "Cabin in the Sky" (1943),
"Cairo" (1942), "Tales of Manhattan" (1942), "Black Musical
Featurettes, V. 1" (1929), Short Subjects V. 1" (1929), and "On
With the Show" (1929). She also was in the first network show to feature an
African American actress as the star (The Beulah Show-1950).
1979 - Hazel W. Johnson becomes the first African American woman to attain general officer
rank in American military history. Under her tenure as Chief, the Army Nurse Corps
continued to improve standards of education and training. The Army Nurse Corps Standards
of Nursing Practice were published as an official Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA PAM
40-5). She received the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion Of Merit, Meritorious Service
Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster among her awards and honors.
- 1766 - Abolitionist, inventor, and entrepreneur, James Forten is born in Philadelphia,
1833 - Oberlin College, one of the first colleges to admit African Americans, is founded
in Oberlin, Ohio.
1864 - In series of battles around Chaffin's Farm in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia,
African American troops capture entrenchments at New Market Heights, make a gallant but
unsuccessful assault on Fort Gilmer and help repulse a Confederate counterattack on Fort
Harrison. The Thirty-Ninth U.S. Colored Troops will win a Congressional Medal of
Honor in the engagements.
1902 - "In Dahomey" premieres at the Old Globe Theater in Boston,
Massachusetts. With music by Will Marion Cook and lyrics by poet Paul Laurence
Dunbar, it is the most successful musical of its day.
1914 - Romare Bearden is born in Charlotte, North Carolina. A student at New York
University, the American Artists School, Columbia University, and the Sorbonne,
Bearden's depiction of the rituals and social customs of African American life will be
imbued with an eloquence and power that will earn him accolades as one of the finest
artists of the 20th century and a master of collage. Among his honors will be
election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts
and Letters, and receiving the President's National Medal of Arts in 1987.
1928 - Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silver is born in Norwalk, Connecticut. He will
become a jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer who will initially lead the Jazz
Messengers with drummer Art Blakey before forming his own band in 1956. A pioneer of
the hard bop style, he will attract to his band the talents of Art Farmer, Donald Byrd,
and Blue Mitchell, among others.
1945 - The end of World War II (V-J Day). A total of 1,154,720 African Americans
have been inducted or drafted into the armed forces. Official records list 7,768
African American commissioned officers on August 31, 1945. At the height of
the conflict, 3,902 African American women (115 officers) were enrolled in the
Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WACS) and 68 were in the Navy auxiliary, the WAVES.
The highest ranking African American women were Major Harriet M. West and Major Charity E.
Adams. Distinguished Unit Citations were awarded to the 969th Field Artillery
Battalion, the 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and the 332nd Fighter Group (Tuskegee
1956 - The Tennessee National Guard is sent to Clinton, Tennessee, to quell white mobs
demonstrating against school integration.
1960 - Eric Dickerson is born. He will become a professional football player and
will become NFC Rookie of the Year in 1983. He will also set a NFL single-season
rushing record of 2,105 yards in 1984.
1963 - Alabama Governor George Wallace blocks the integration of Tuskegee High School in
1965 - Lennox Lewis, former WBC boxing champ, is born.
1966 - Frank Robinson is named Most Valuable Player of the American League.
1971 - Cheryl White becomes the first African American woman jockey to win a sanctioned
1975 - Joseph W. Hatchett sworn in as first African American state supreme court justice
in the South (Florida) in the twentieth century.
1978 - Reggie Jackson is 19th player to hit 20 home runs in 11 straight years.
1989 - Rev. Al Sharpton leads a civil rights march through the Bensonhurst section of
Brooklyn, New York..
- 1783 - Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, purchases his
freedom with his earnings as a self-employed teamster.
1838 - Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, disguised as a sailor, escapes from slavery
in Baltimore, Maryland to New Bedford, Massachusetts via New York City. He will take
the name Douglass, after the hero of Sir Walter Scott's poem "Lady of the Lake".
1865 - The Union Army commander in South Carolina orders the Freedmen's Bureau personnel
to stop seizing land.
1868 - Henry McNeal Turner delivers a speech before the Georgia legislature defending
African Americans' rights to hold state office. The lower house of the Georgia
legislature, rules that African Americans were ineligible to hold office, and expels
twenty-eight representatives. Ten days later the senate expels three African Americans.
Congress will refuse to re-admit the state to the Union until the legislature seats
the African American representatives.
1891 - John Stephens Durham, assistant editor of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, is
named minister to Haiti.
1891 - Cotton pickers organize a union and stage a strike for higher wages in Texas.
1895 - Charles Houston is born. He will become a leader of the the NAACP.
1910 - Dorothy Maynor is born in Norfolk, Virginia. She will become a renown soprano
and will sing with all of the major American and European orchestras. She will found
the Harlem School of the Arts.
1918 - Five African American soldiers are hanged for alleged participation in the Houston
riot of 1917.
1919 - The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, owned by African Americans Noble Johnson and
Clarence Brooks, releases its first feature-length film, "A Man's Duty".
1970 - Representatives from 27 African nations, Caribbean nations, four South American
countries, Australia, and the United States meet in Atlanta, Georgia, for the first
Congress of African People.
1970 - Billy Williams ends the longest National League consecutive streak at 1,117 games.
1974 - NBA guard, Oscar Robinson, retires from professional basketball.
1984 - A new South African constitution comes into effect, setting up a three-chamber,
racially divided parliament - White, Indian and Colored (mixed race) people.
1990 - Jonathan A. Rodgers becomes president of CBS's Television Stations Division, the
highest-ranking African American to date in network television. Rodgers had been
general manager of WBBM-TV, CBS's Chicago station.
- 1781 - California's second pueblo near San Gabriel, Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los
Angeles de Porciuncula (Los Angeles, California) is founded by forty-four settlers, of
whom at least twenty-six were descendants of Africans. Among the settlers of African
descent, according to H.H. Bancroft's authoritative History of California, were
"Joseph Moreno, Mulatto, 22 years old, wife a Mulattress, five children; Manuel
Cameron, Mulatto, 30 years old, wife Mulattress; Antonio Mesa, Negro, 38 years old, wife
Mulattress, six children; Jose Antonio Navarro, Mestizo, 42 years old, wife, Mulattress,
three children; Basil Rosas, Indian, 68 years old, wife, Mulattress, six children."
1848 - Louis H. Latimer is born in Chelsea, Massachusetts. A one-time draftsman and
preparer of patents for Aexander Graham Bell, he will later join the United States
Electric Company, where he will patent a carbon filament for the incandescent lamp.
When he joins the ancestors, he will be eulogized by his co-workers as a valuable member
of the "Edison Pioneers," a group of men and women who advanced electrical light
usage in the United States.
1865 - Bowie State College (now University) is established in Bowie, Maryland.
1875 - The Clinton Massacre occurs in Clinton, Mississippi. Twenty to thirty African
Americans are killed over a two-day period.
1908 - Richard Wright, who will become the author of the best-selling "Native
Son," "Uncle Tom's Children," and "Black Boy," is born near
Natchez, Mississippi. Wright will be among the first African American writers to
protest white treatment of African Americans.
1942 - Merald 'Bubba' Knight is born in Atlanta, Georgia. He will become a singer
with his sister Gladys Knight as part of her background group, The Pips. They will
record many songs including "Midnight Train to Georgia," "Best Thing That
Ever Happened to Me," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Every Beat
of My Heart," "Letter Full of Tears," and "The Way We Were/Try to
1953 - Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs is born in New York City. He will become an actor and
will star in "Alien Nation," "Rituals," "Roots,"
"Welcome Back, Kotter," "Quiet Fire," "L.A. Heat," and
1957 - The governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, calls out the National Guard to stop nine
African American students from entering Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Three weeks later, President Dwight Eisenhower sends a force of 1,000 U.S. Army
paratroopers (The 101st Airborne) to Little Rock to guarantee the peaceful desegregation
of the public school.
1960 - Damon Wayans, Jr. is born. He will become an actor/comedian and will star in
"In Living Color," "Major Payne," "Blankman," "Celtic
Pride," "The Great White Hype" and many others.
- 1804 - Absalom Jones is ordained a priest in the Protestant Episcopal Church.
1846 - John W. Cromwell is born. He will become the Secretary of the American Negro
1859 - "Our Nig" by Harriet E. Wilson is published. It is the first novel
published in the United States by an African American woman and will be lost to readers
for years until reprinted with a critical essay by noted African American scholar Henry
Louis Gates, Jr. in 1983.
1877 - African Americans from the Post-Civil-War South, led by Benjamin 'Pap' Singleton,
settle in Kansas and establish towns like Nicodemus, to take advantage of free land
offered by the United States government through the Homestead Act of 1860.
1895 - George Washington Murray is elected to Congress from South Carolina.
1916 - Novelist Frank Yerby is born in Augusta, Georgia. A student at Fisk University and
the University of Chicago, Yerby's early short story "Health Card" will win the
O. Henry short story award. He will later turn to adventure novels and become a
best-selling author in the 1940's and 1950's with "The Foxes of Harrow",
"The Vixens" and many others. His later novels will include "Goat
Song", "The Darkness at Ingraham's Crest-A Tale of the Slaveholding South",
and "Devil Seed". In total, Yerby will publish over 30 novels that sell
over 20 million copies.
1960 - Cassius Clay of Louisville, Kentucky, wins the gold medal in light heavyweight
boxing at the Olympic Games in Rome, Italy. Clay will later change his name to Muhammad
Ali and become one of the great boxing champions in the world. In 1996, at the
Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, Muhammad Ali will have the honor of lighting the
1960 - Leopold Sedar Senghor, poet, politician, is elected President of Senegal.
1972 - Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway win a gold record -- for their duet, "Where
is the Love". The song gets to number five on the pop music charts and is one
of two songs for the duo to earn gold. The other will be "The Closer I Get To
1995 - O.J. Simpson jurors hear testimony that police detective Mark Fuhrman had uttered a
racist slur, and advocated the killing of Blacks.
- 1826 - John Brown Russwurm graduates from Bowdoin College. While many sources
consider him to be the first African American in America to graduate from college, he was
preceded by Edward Jones (B.A. Amherst College - August 23, 1826) and Alexander Lucius
Twilight (B.A. Middlebury College - 1823).
1848 - National Black Convention meets in Cleveland, Ohio with some seventy
delegates. Frederick Douglass is elected president of the convention.
1865 - Thaddeus Stevens, powerful U.S. congressman, urges confiscation of estates of
Confederate leaders and the distribution of land to adult freedmen in forty-acre lots.
1866 - Frederick Douglass becomes the first African American delegate to a national
1876 - A race riot occurs in Charleston, South Carolina.
1892 - George "Little Chocolate" Dixon beats Jack Skelly in New Orleans to win
the world featherweight title. While some African American citizens celebrate for two
days, the New Orleans Times-Democrat says, "It was a mistake to match a Negro and a
white man, to bring the races together on any terms of equality even in the prize
1905 - The Atlanta Life Insurance Company is established by A.F. Herndon.
1930 - Leander Jay Shaw, Jr. is born in Salem, Virginia. He will become a justice of
the Florida State Supreme Court in 1983 and, in 1990, the chief justice, a first in
Florida and the second African American chief justice in any state supreme court.
1966 - A racially motivated civil disturbance occurs in Atlanta, Georgia.
1967 - President Lyndon B. Johnson names Walter E. Washington, commissioner and
"unofficial" mayor of Washington, DC.
1968 - The Kingdom of Swaziland achieves full independence from Great Britain as a
1982 - Willie Stargell, of the Pittsburgh Pirates, sees his uniform, number 8, retired by
the Bucs. It is the fourth Pirate player's uniform to be so honored. The other
three belonged to Roberto Clemente (#21), Honus Wagner (#33) and Pie Traynor (#20).
1988 - Lee Roy Young becomes the first African American Texas Ranger in the police force's
165-year history. Young is a 14-year veteran of the Texas Department of Public
1989 - The International Amateur Athletic Federation bans Ben Johnson of Canada from
competition, after he tests positive for steroids. He is also stripped of all of his
1989 - The National Party, the governing party of South Africa, loses nearly a quarter of
its parliamentary seats to far-right and anti-apartheid rivals, its worst setback in four
- 1800 - The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is dedicated in New York City.
1859 - John Merrick, co-organizer of The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, is
1914 - Jean Blackwell Hutson is born in Summerfield, Florida. She will be the longtime
curator and chief of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City,
the largest collection on the culture and literature of people of African descent.
1917 - Jacob Lawrence is born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He will become one of
the leading painters in chronicling African American history and urban life. Among
his most celebrated works will be the historical panels "The Life of Toussaint
L'ouverture" and "The Life of Harriet Tubman."
1930 - Theodore Walter "Sonny" Rollins, jazz saxophonist, is born in New York
City. Rollins will grow up in a neighborhood where Thelonius Monk, Coleman Hawkins
(his early idol), and Bud Powell were playing. After recording with the latter in
1949, Rollins begins recording with Miles Davis in 1951. During the next three
years he composes three of his best-known tunes, "Oleo," "Doxy," and
"Airegin," and continues to work with Davis, Charlie Parker, and others.
Following his withdrawal from music in 1954 to cure a heroin addiction, Rollins re-emerges
with the Clifford Brown-Max Roach quintet in 1955, and the next four years prove to be his
most fertile. He will be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972.
1934 - James Milton Campbell, Jr. is born in Inverness, Mississippi. He will becomes a
blues guitar artist better known as "Little Milton." He started his career
playing in blues bands when he was a teenager. His first recording was accompanying
pianist Willie Love in the early 50s. He then appeared under his own name on three singles
issued on Sam Phillips' Sun label under the guidance of Ike Turner. His vocal style
will be in the mould of Bobby "Blues" Bland and "T-Bone" Walker.
His hits will include "We're Gonna Make It," "Who's Cheating Who,"
"Grits Ain't Groceries," and "That's What Love Will Do."
1937 - Olly Wilson is born in St. Louis, Missouri. He will become a classical
composer whose works will be played by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Oakland City
Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and many others.
1942 - Richard Roundtree is born in New Rochelle, New York. He will attend college on a
football scholarship but will later give up athletics to pursue an acting career. After
touring as a model with the Ebony Fashion Fair, he will join the Negro Ensemble Company's
acting workshop program in 1967. He will make his film debut in 1970's What Do You Say to
a Naked Lady?, but is still an unknown when filmmaker Gordon Parks, Sr. cast him as Shaft.
The role will shoot Roundtree to instant fame, launching the blaxploitation genre and
proving so successful at the box office that it helped save MGM from the brink of
bankruptcy. Thanks to the film's popularity -- as well as its two sequels, 1972's
"Shaft's Big Score!" and the following year's "Shaft in Africa," and
even a short-lived television series. H will also appear in films including the 1974
disaster epic "Earthquake," 1975's "Man Friday" and the blockbuster
1977 TV miniseries "Roots."
1949 - Gloria Gaynor is born in Newark New Jersey. She will become a singer and will
be best known for her 1979 hit, "I Will Survive". The hit tops the charts
in both the United Kingdom and the United States
1954 - Integration of public schools begins in Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland.
1972 - Curtis Mayfield earns a gold record for his album, "Superfly", from the
movie of the same name. The LP contained the hits, "Freddie's Dead" and
"Superfly" -- both songs were also million record sellers.
1980 - Bessie A. Buchanan, the first African American woman to be elected to the New York
State legislature, joins the ancestors in New York City. Before her political
career, she was a Broadway star who had leading roles in "Shuffle Along" and
1986 - Bishop Desmond Tutu is enthroned as Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. He is
the first black head of South Africa's Anglican Church.
1987 - Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University
Hospital, leads a surgical team that successfully separates Siamese twins who had been
joined at the head.
1994 - U.S. Marines begin training on a Puerto Rican island amid talk in Washington of a
U.S.-led intervention in Haiti.
- 1866 - Charles Harrison Mason is born on the Prior Farm near Memphis, Tennessee.
He will be inspired by the autobiography of evangelist Amanda Berry Smith in 1893, and
will found and organize the "Church of God in Christ," in Memphis, Tennessee in
1875 - The governor of Mississippi requests federal troops to protect African American
voters. Attorney General Edward Pierrepont refuses the request and says "the whole
public are tired of these annual autumnal outbreaks in the South..."
1925 - Ossian Sweet, a prominent Detroit doctor, is arrested on murder charges after shots
are fired into a mob in front of the Sweet home in a previously all-white area.
Sweet is defended by Clarence Darrow, who won an acquittal in the second trial.
1940 - Willie Tyler is born in Red Level, Alabama. He will become a well known
ventriloquist along with his wooden partner, Lester.
1956 - Maurice Cheeks is born. He will become a professional basketball player and
will play guard for the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia '76ers.
1957 - Tennis champion, Althea Gibson, becomes the first African American athlete to win a
U.S. national tennis championship.
1965 - Dorothy Dandridge, nominated for an Oscar for her performance in "Carmen
Jones," joins the ancestors at the age of 41 in Hollywood, California.
1968 - Black Panther Huey Newton is convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the fatal
shooting of an Oakland policeman. He will later begin a 2 to l5-year jail sentence.
1968 - Saundra Williams is crowned the first Miss Black America in a contest held
exclusively for African American women in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
1973 - Hank Aaron sets the record for most Home Runs in 1 league (709).
1975 - The city of Boston begins court ordered citywide busing of public schools amid
scattered incidents of violence.
1981 - Roy Wilkins, longtime and second executive director of the NAACP, joins the
1990 - Marjorie Judith Vincent of Illinois is selected as Miss America in Atlantic City,
New Jersey. The Haitian native, a third-year law student at Duke University, is the
fourth woman of African descent to become Miss America.
- 1739 - Led by a slave named Jemmy (Cato), a slave revolt occurs in Stono, South
Carolina. Twenty-five whites are killed before the insurrection is put down.
1806 - Sarah Mapps Douglass, abolitionist, is born.
1816 - Rev. John Gregg Fee, Kentucky abolitionist, is born. He will become member of
the American Missionary Association, and will found a settlement called
"Berea" on land donated to him by an admirer, Cassius Marcellus Clay. It will be
later that Fee will be inspired to build a college, adjacent to the donated land - Berea
1817 - Captain Paul Cuffe, entrepreneur and civil rights activist, joins the
ancestors at 58, in Westport, Masschusetts. Cuffe was a Massachusetts shipbuilder
and sea captain. He also was one of the most influential African American freedmen
of the eighteenth century. In 1780, Cuffe and six other African Americans refused to
pay taxes until they were granted citizenship. Massachusetts gave African Americans
who owned property the vote three years later. Although Cuffe became wealthy, he
believed that most African Americans would never be completely accepted in white society.
In 1816, Cuffe began one of the first experiments in colonizing African Americans in
Africa when he brought a group to Sierra Leone. Cuffe's experiment helped inspire the
founding of the American Colonization Society later that year.
1823 - Alexander Lucius Twilight, becomes the first African American to earn a
baccalaureate degree in the United States, when he graduates from Middlebury College with
a BA degree.
1915 - A group of visionary scholars (George Cleveland Hall, W.B. Hartgrove, Alexander L.
Jackson, and James E. Stamps) led by Dr. Carter G. Woodson found the Association for the
Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in Chicago, Illinois. Dr.
Woodson is convinced that among scholars, the role of his own people in American history
and in the history of other cultures was being either ignored or
misrepresented. Dr. Woodson realizes the need for special research into the
neglected past of the Negro. The association is the only organization of its kind
concerned with preserving African American history.
1928 - Silvio Cator of Haiti, sets the then long jump record at 26' 0".
1934 - Sonia Sanchez is born in Birmingham, Alabama. She will become a noted poet,
playwright, short story writer, and author of children's books. She will be most
noted for her poetry volumes "We a BaddDDD People", "A Blues Book for Blue
Black Magical Women", and anthologies she will edit including "We Be Word
Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans."
1941 - Otis Redding is born in Dawson, Georgia, the son of a Baptist minister. He
will become a rhythm and blues musician and singer and will be best known for his
recording of "[Sittin' on] The Dock of the Bay," which will be released after he
is killed in a small airplane in December, 1967. Some of his other hits were
"I've Been Loving You Too Long", "Respect", and "Try A Little
1942 - Inez Foxx is born in Greensboro, North Carolina. She will become a a rhythm
and blues singer and will perform as part of a duuo act with her brother , Charlie.
Their biggest hit will be "Mockingbird" in 1963. They will record together
1942 - Luther Simmons is born. He will become a rhythm and blues singer with the
group "Main Ingredient." They will be best known for their hit,
"Everybody Plays the Fool."
1945 - Dione LaRue is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She will become a rhythm
and blues singer better known as "Dee Dee Sharp." Her first hit will be
"It's Mashed Potato Time" in 1962. She will also record "Gravy"
[For My Mashed Potatoes], "Ride!", "Do the Bird", and "Slow
Twistin' "(with Chubby Checker).
1946 - Billy Preston is born in Houston, Texas. He will become a musician songwriter
and singer. His hits will include "Will It Go Round in Circles",
"Nothing from Nothing", "Outa-Space", "Get Back" (with The
Beatles), and "With You I'm Born Again"(with Syreeta). He also will appear
in film: "St. Louis Blues" and play with Little Richard's Band.
1957 - President Eisenhower signs the first civil rights bill passed by Congress since
1957 - Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth is mobbed when he attempts to enroll his daughters in
a "white" Birmingham school.
1957 - Nashville's new Hattie Cotton Elementary School with enrollment of one African
American and 388 whites is virtually destroyed by a dynamite blast.
1962 - Two churches are burned near Sasser, Georgia. African American leaders ask
the president to stop the "Nazi-like reign of terror in southwest Georgia."
1963 - Alabama Governor George Wallace is served a federal injunction when he orders state
police to bar African American students from enrolling in white schools.
1968 - Arthur Ashe becomes the first (and first African American) Men's Singles Tennis
Champion of the newly established U.S. Open tennis championships at Forest Hills, New
1971 - More than 1,200 inmates at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York
gain control of the facility in a well-planned takeover. During the initial
violence, 50 correctional officers and civilian employees are beaten and taken hostage.
Correctional officer William Quinn receives the roughest beating and is soon freed by the
inmates due to the severity of his injuries. Police handling of the takeover will result
in the deaths of many inmates and will turn the nation's interest toward the conditions in
U.S. penal institutions.
1979 - Robert Guillaume wins an Emmy award for 'Best Actor in a Comedy Series' for his
performances in "Soap".
1981 - Vernon E. Jordan resigns as president of the National Urban League and announces
plans to join a Washington DC legal firm. He will be succeeded by John E. Jacob,
executive vice president of the league.
1984 - Walter Payton, of the Chicago Bears, breaks Jim Brown's combined yardage record --
by reaching 15,517 yards.
1985 - President Reagan orders sanctions against South Africa because of that country's
1990 - Samuel K. Doe, president of Liberia, joins the ancestors after being killed
- 1847 - John Roy Lynch is born a slave in Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Becoming
free during the American Civil War, he will settle in Natchez, Mississippi. There he
will learn the photography business, attend night school, and enter public life in 1869 as
justice of the peace for Natchez county. In November, 1869 Lynch will be elected to
the Mississippi House of Representatives, and reelected in 1871. Although blacks
never will be in the majority in the Mississippi legislature, Lynch will be chosen speaker
of the House in 1872. In 1884 he will become the first African American to
preside over a national convention of a major U.S. political party and deliver the keynote
address, when he was appointed temporary chairman. In his book, "The Facts of
Reconstruction" (1913), Lynch will attempt to dispel the erroneous notion that
Southern state governments after the Civil War were under the control of blacks.
1886 - Poet Georgia Douglas Johnson is born in Atlanta, Georgia. Among her books will be
"Heart of a Woman", "Bronze", "An Autumn Love Cycle", and
"Share My Love". She will be anthologized in Arna Bontemps's
"American Negro Poetry" and Davis and Lee's "Negro Caravan," among
others. Her home in Washington, DC, will be the center for African American literary
1913 - George W. Buckner, a physician from Indiana, is named minister to Liberia.
1913 - The Cleveland Call & Post newspaper is established.
1930 - Charles E. Mitchell, certified public accountant and banker from West Virginia, is
named minister to Liberia.
1940 - Roy Ayers is born in Los Angeles, California. In high school Ayers will form
his first group, the Latin Lyrics, and in the early 60s will begin working professionally
with flautist/saxophonist Curtis Amy. He will become a popular jazz vibraphonist and
vocalist, reaching the peak of his commercial popularity during the mid-70s and early 80s.
1948 - Robert "Bob" Lanier is born in Buffalo, New York. He will become a
professional basketball player and will be a NBA center for 14 years (10 years with the
Detroit Pistons and 4 years with the Milwaukee Bucks). He will be an eight-time NBA
All-Star and will be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.
1956 - Louisville, Kentucky integrates its public school system.
1960 - Running barefoot, Ethiopian Abebe Bikila wins the marathon at the Rome Olympic
1961 - Jomo Kenyatta returns to Kenya from exile to lead his country.
1962 - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black vacates an order of a lower court, ruling that the
University of Mississippi had to admit James H. Meredith, an African American Air Force
veteran whose application for admission had been on file and in the courts for fourteen
1963 - 20 African American students enter public schools in Birmingham, Tuskegee and
Mobile, Alabama, following a standoff between federal authorities and Governor George C.
1965 - Father Divine joins the ancestors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Divine, born
George Baker, was the founder of the Peace Mission, a religious group whose followers
worshiped Divine as God incarnate on earth.
1972 - Gayle Sayers, of the Chicago Bears, retires from pro football.
1973 - A commemorative stamp of Henry Ossawa Tanner is issued by the U.S. Postal
Service. Part of its American Arts issue, the stamp celebrates the work and
accomplishments of Tanner, the first African American artist elected to the National
Academy of Design.
1973 - Muhammad Ali defeats Ken Norton in a championship heavyweight boxing match in Los
Angeles -- and avenges his loss to Norton the previous March in San Diego.
1974 - Guinea-Bissau gains independence from Portugal.
1974 - Lou Brock, of the St. Louis Cardinals, breaks Maury Wills' major league record for
stolen bases in a season. 'Lighting' Lou Brock steals his 105th base on his
way to a career total of 938 stolen bases, a record which will be broken by Rickey
1976 - Mordecai Johnson, the first African American president of Howard University, joins
the ancestors at age 86.
1986 - Sprinter, Evelyn Ashford is defeated for the first time in eight years.
Ashford loses to Valerie Brisco-Hooks in the 200-meter run held in Rome, Italy.
- 1740 - An issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette reports on a Negro named Simon who
reportedly can "bleed and draw teeth." It is the first mention of an
African American doctor or dentist in the American Colonies.
1885 - Moses A. Hopkins, minister and educator, is named minister to Liberia.
1923 - Charles Evers is born in Decatur, Mississippi. He will become a civil rights
worker who will assume the post of field director of the Mississippi NAACP after his
brother, Medgar, is assassinated in 1963. He will be elected mayor of Fayette,
Mississippi, in 1969.
1943 - Lola Falana is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She will become a dancer,
most notably in Broadway's "Golden Boy", and be a successful performer on
television and in Las Vegas, where she will be called "The First Lady of Las
1953 - J. H. Jackson, pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, is elected
president of the National Baptist Convention at its Miami meeting.
1956 - Cincinnati Red's Frank Robinson ties the rookie record with his 38th home run.
1959 - Duke Ellington receives the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for his outstanding musical
achievements and contributions to the field of music.
1962 - Two youths involved in a voter registration drive in Mississippi are wounded by
shotgun blasts fired through the window of a home in Ruleville. A spokesperson for
SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) asks the president to "convene a
special White House Conference to discuss means of stopping the wave of terror sweeping
through the South, especially where SNCC is working on voter registration."
1977 - Quincy Jones wins an Emmy for outstanding achievement in musical composition for
the miniseries "Roots". It is one of nine Emmys for the series, an
1999 - Serena Williams wins the U.S. Open women's title, beating top-seeded Martina
Hingis, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).
- 1913 - James Cleveland Owens is born in Oakville, Alabama. He will be better known as
Jesse Owens, one of the greatest track and field stars in history. Owens will
achieve fame at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, where he will win four gold
medals, dispelling Hitler's notion of the superior Aryan race and the inferiority of black
athletes. Among his honors will be the Medal of Freedom, presented to him by
President Gerald Ford in 1976.
1935 - Richard Hunt is born in Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of the Art Institute of
Chicago, he will later study in Europe and be considered one of the leading sculptors in
the United States. His work will be shown extensively in the United States and
abroad and his sculptures will be collected by the National Museum of American Art, the
Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of the
Twentieth Century in Vienna.
1944 - Barry White is born in Galveston, Texas. He will become a singer and
songwriter. Some of his hits will be "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More
Baby", "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Babe", and "Love's Theme [with
Love Unlimited Orchestra.
1947 - The first African American baseball player in the major leagues, Jackie Robinson,
is named National League Rookie of the Year.
1956 - African American students are barred from entering a Clay, Kentucky elementary
school. They will enter the school under National Guard protection on September 17.
1958 - The United States Supreme Court orders a Little Rock, Arkansas high school to admit
African American students.
1964 - Ralph Boston of the United States, sets the long jump record at 27' 4".
1974 - The beginning of court-ordered busing to achieve racial integration in Boston's
public schools is marred by violence in South Boston.
1974 - Eugene A. Marino, SSJ, is consecrated as the first African American Roman Catholic
auxiliary bishop in the United States. He assumes his duties as auxiliary bishop of
1974 - Haile Selassie is deposed by military leaders after fifty-eight years as the ruling
monarch of Ethiopia.
1977 - Black South African student and civil rights leader Steven Biko joins the ancestors
after succumbing to severe physical abuse while in police detention, triggering an
1980 - Lillian Randolph joins the ancestors at the age of 65. She had been a film actress
and had starred on television on the "Amos 'n' Andy Show" and in the mini-series
1984 - Michael Jordan signs a seven-year contract to play basketball with the Chicago
Bulls. 'Air' Jordan will become an NBA star for the Bulls and help make the
team a dominant force in the NBA.
1984 - Dwight Gooden, of the New York Mets, sets a rookie strikeout record by striking out
his 251st batter of the season. He also leads the Mets to a 2-0 shutout over the
1986 - The National Council of Negro Women sponsors its first Black Family Reunion at the
National Mall in Washington, DC. The reunion, which will grow to encompass dozens
of cities and attract over one million people annually, is held to celebrate and applaud
the traditional values, history, and culture of the African American family.
1989 - David Dinkins, Manhattan borough president, wins the New York City's Democratic
mayoral primary, defeating incumbent Mayor Ed Koch and two other candidates on his way to
becoming the city's first African American mayor.
1992 - Mae C. Jemison becomes the first woman of color to go into space when she travels
on the space shuttle Endeavour.
1998 - Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs becomes the fourth major league baseball player to
hit 60 home runs in a single season.
1999 - Serena and Venus Williams (sisters) take home the U.S. Open Women's Doubles
Championship trophy. After losing the first set, they bounce back to win the
remaining two sets against Chandra Rubin of the U.S. and Sandrine Testud of France.
The Williams sisters are the first African-Americans to win a U.S. Open Doubles
- 1663 - The first known slave revolt in the thirteen American colonies is planned in
Gloucester County, Virginia. The conspirators, both white servants and African
American slaves, are betrayed by fellow indentured servants.
1867 - Gen. E.R.S. Canby orders South Carolina courts to impanel African American jurors.
1881 - Louis Latimer patents an electric lamp with a carbon filament.
1886 - Alain Leroy Locke is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will graduate
from Harvard University in 1907 with a degree in philosophy and become the first African
American Rhodes scholar, studying at Oxford University from 1907-10 and the University of
Berlin from 1910-11. He will receive his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard in 1918.
For almost 40 years, until retirement in 1953 as head of the department of
philosophy, Locke will teach at Howard University, Washington, DC. He will be best
known for his involvement with the Harlem Renaissance, although his work and influence
extend well beyond. Through "The New Negro", published in 1925, Locke
popularized and most adequately defined the Renaissance as a movement in black arts and
1915 - The first historically black and Catholic university for African Americans in the
United States, Xavier University, is founded by Blessed Katherine Drexel and the religious
order she established, the "Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament," in New Orleans,
1948 - Nell Carter is born in Birmingham, Alabama. She will become a Broadway
sensation as a singer and actress in Broadway's "Bubbling Brown Sugar",
"Ain't Misbehavin' "(for which she will win a Tony), and for five seasons in
television's "Gimme a Break".
1962 - Mississippi Governor Ross R. Barnett defies the federal government in an
impassioned speech on statewide radio-television hookup, saying he would
"interpose" the authority of the state between the University of Mississippi and
federal judges who had ordered the admission of James H. Meredith. Barnett says,
"There is no case in history where the Caucasian race has survived social
integration." He promises to go to jail, if necessary, to prevent integration
at the state university. His defiance set the stage for the gravest federal/state
crisis since the Civil War.
1962 - President John F. Kennedy denounces the burning of churches in Georgia and supports
voter registration drives in the South.
1965 - Willie Mays hits his 500th career home run.
1967 - Michael Johnson is born in Dallas, Texas. He will become a world class
sprinter, Olympic athlete, and the first person to break 44 (43.65) seconds for the
400-meter run. At the Atlanta Olympics, he also will become the first man to win the
double gold in the 400 ad 200 meters.
1971 - Two hundred troopers and officers storm the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate
New York under orders from Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Thirty-three convicts
and ten guards are killed. Later investigations show that nine of the ten guards
were killed by the storming party. This riot will focus national attention on
corrections departments nationwide and the practice of imprisonment in the United States.
A National Conference on Corrections will be convened in December, 1971 resulting
in the formation of the National Institute of Corrections in 1974.
1971 - Frank Robinson hits his 500th career home run.
1972 - Two African Americans, Johnny Ford of Tuskegee and A.J. Cooper of Prichard, are
elected mayors in Alabama.
1979 - South Africa grants Venda independence (Not recognized outside of South
Africa). Venda is a homeland situated in the north eastern part of the Transvaal
Province of South Africa.
1981 - Isabel Sanford wins an Emmy award as best comedic actress for "The
1989 - Archbishop Desmond Tutu leads huge crowds of singing and dancing people through
central Cape Town in the biggest anti-apartheid protest march in South Africa for 30
1996 - Rap artist Tupac Shakur joins the ancestors six days after being the target of a
drive-by shooting in Las Vegas at the age of 25.
1998 - Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs hits his 61st and 62nd home runs of the season,
passing Roger Maris' record and pulling into a tie with St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire
in this years home run derby.
- 1874 - White Democrats seize the statehouse in a Louisiana coup d'etat. President
Grant orders the revolutionaries to disperse, and the rebellion collapses.
Twenty-seven persons (sixteen whites and eleven Blacks) are killed in battles between the
Democrats and Republicans.
1891 - John Adams Hyman joins the ancestors in Washington, DC. He was the first
African American congressman from the state of North Carolina.
1921 - Constance Baker Motley is born in New Haven, Connecticut. She will achieve
many distinctions in her career, including being the only woman elected to the New York
Senate in 1964, the only woman Manhattan borough president, and the first African American
woman to be named as a federal court judge in 1966. She will later serve as chief
judge of the Southern District of New York.
1940 - African Americans are allowed to enter all branches of the United States Military
Service, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Selective Service Act.
1964 - Leontyne Price and A. Philip Randolph are among the recipients of the Medal of
Freedom awarded by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
1970 - One African American is killed and two whites are injured in shoot-out between
activists and police officers in a New Orleans housing project.
- 1830 - The first National Negro Convention begins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1876 - White terrorists attack Republicans in Ellenton, South Carolina. Two whites and
thirty-nine African Americans are killed.
1890 - Claude McKay is born in Sunnyville, Jamaica. Emigrating to the United States
in 1912, he will be come a poet and winner of the 1928 Harmon Gold Medal Award for
Literature. Author of the influential poetry collection "Harlem Shadows",
he will also be famous for the poems "The Lynching," "White Houses,"
and "If We Must Die," which will be used by Winston Churchill as a rallying cry
during World War II.
1898 - The National Afro-American Council is founded in Rochester, New York. Bishop
Alexander Walters of the AME Zion Church is elected president. The organization
proposes a program of assertion and protest.
1923 - The governor of Oklahoma declares that Oklahoma is in a "state of virtual
rebellion and insurrection" because of Ku Klux Klan activities. Martial law is
1924 - Robert "Bobby" Short is born in Danville, Illinois. He will become a
singer and pianist and will be a long-time performer at the Carlisle Hotel in New York
1928 - Julian Edwin Adderly is born in Tampa, Florida. He will be best known as
"Cannonball" Adderly, a jazz saxophonist who will play with Miles Davis as well
as lead his own band with brother Nat Adderly and musicians such as Yusef Lateef and
1943 - Actor and activist Paul Robeson acts in the 296th performance of
"Othello" at the Shubert Theatre in New York City.
1963 - Four African American schoolgirls - Addie Collins, Denise McNair, Carol Robertson
and Cynthia Wesley - are killed in a bombing at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in
Birmingham, Alabama. It is an act of violence that galvanizes the civil rights
1964 - Rev. K.L. Buford and Dr. Stanley Smith are elected to the Tuskegee City Council and
become the first African American elected officials in Alabama in the twentieth century.
1969 - Large-scale racially motivated disturbances are reported in Hartford, Connecticut.
Five hundred persons are arrested and scores are injured.
1978 - Muhammad Ali wins the world heavyweight boxing championship for a record third time
by defeating Leon Spinks in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1987 - Boxer, Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns, becomes the first African American to win
boxing titles in five different weight classes.
1991 - San Diego State freshman, Marshall Faulk, sets the NCAA single game rushing record
of 386 yards.
Updated by K. Ferguson Kelly:
March 16, 2002