16 -30 September in Black History
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The intent of these pages is to bring attention to
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- 1795 - The British capture Capetown in South Africa.
1848 - France abolishes slavery in all of its colonies and territories.
1859 - Lake Nyasa, which forms Malawi's boundary with Tanzania and Mozambique, is first
seen by a european, British explorer David Livingstone.
1889 - Claude A. Barnett, founder of the Associated Negro Press, is born.
1889 - William Foster is born. He will become a star in the Negro Baseball League.
1893 - The last Oklahoma land rush, targeted in the territory's Cherokee strip (outlet)
begins. More than 100,000 homesteaders rushed to claim a share of the 6 million
acres in this strip of land between Oklahoma and Kansas, opened up by the U.S. government.
Among the participants is E.P. McCabe, who will establish the all African American
town of Liberty a few days later. McCabe was also involved in the earlier
establishment of the African American town of Langston, Oklahoma, named for John Mercer
Langston, Virginia's first African American congressman. The Oklahoma land rushes
started in 1889, but African Americans were excluded from the first one.
1915 - The United States takes control of customs & finances in Haiti for the next 10
1921 - Jon Carl Hendricks is born in Newark, Ohio. He will become an influential
singer in the jazz group, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.
1925 - Riley B. King is born in Itta Bena, Mississippi. He will become a blues
great, known as B(lues) B(oy) King. Playing his guitar, nicknamed 'Lucille,' King will
have over 50 hit blues albums and win a 1970 Grammy for "The Thrill Is Gone".
1933 - Emperor Jones, starring Paul Robeson as Brutus Jones, is released by United
Artists. It is Robeson's first starring movie role and the first major Hollywood
production starring an African American with whites in supporting roles.
1934 - Elgin Baylor is born. He will become a NBA star beginning as the 1958-59
Rookie of the Year with the Los Angeles Lakers. He will set the NBA Playoff Record for
points scored in a game (61), and for points scored in a playoff series (284) [both in
1937 - Orlando Cepeda, major league baseball player with the Giants, Cardinals, and
Braves, is born. Cepeda will have a career average of .297, play in 2,124 games,
produce 379 home runs and 1,365 runs batted in.
1947 - Lucius Allen is born. He will become a NBA star with the Milwaukee Bucks.
1953 - Earl Klugh, Jazz pianist/guitarist, is born.
1965 - San Francisco's Grace Cathedral becomes the site of the first concert of sacred
music presented by Duke Ellington.
1971 - Six Klansmen are arrested in connection with the bombing of 10 school buses in
1981 - Boxer 'Sugar' Ray Leonard, at age 25, knocks out Thomas 'The Hit Man' Hearns.
Leonard wins the welterweight boxing championship -- and the richest payday in boxing
1989 - Debbye Turner, a senior at the University of Missouri Veterinary School, is crowned
Miss America. She is the third African American to win the crown since the pageant began
1990 - Keenen Ivory Wayans' "In Living Color" wins an Emmy for Outstanding
1993 - Minnesota Twins' slugger Dave Winfield becomes the 19th player to get 3,000 career
- 1787 - The U.S. Constitution is approved at the Constitutional Convention in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with three clauses protecting slavery.
1861 - The first day-school for ex-slaves is opened in Fortress Monroe, Virginia under the
tutelage of an African American schoolteacher, Mary S. Peake. The school will later
become Hampton Institute (now University) in 1868.
1879 - Andrew "Rube" Foster, father of Negro Leagues baseball, is born in
1953 - Ernie Banks becomes the first African American baseball player to wear a Chicago
Cubs uniform. Banks is also quick to say "Let's play two!" Banks
will be the Cubs' outstanding shortstop from 1954 to 1960. In 1961 he will be moved
to left field, then to first base, where he will spend the rest of his career. In
1969, Ernie Banks will be voted the Cub's best player ever by Chicago fans. 'Mr.
Cub' will retire in 1971.
1956 - African American students are admitted to a Clay, Kentucky elementary school under
National Guard protection. They had previously been barred by local
authorities on September 12.
1962 - The Justice Department files the first suit to end racial segregation in public
schools. The fourth African American church is burned near Dawson, Georgia.
Three white men later admitted burning the church. They were sentenced to seven year
1967 - Malik Yoba, actor, "New York Undercover's" Detective J.C. Williams, is
1968 - "Julia" premieres on NBC with Diahann Carroll in the title role. It
is the first television show to star an African American woman since "Beulah" in
1970 - "The Flip Wilson Show" premieres on NBC. Starring the New Jersey
comedian born as Clerow Wilson, it is the first prime-time variety show starring an
African American male since "The Nat King Cole Show".
1973 - Illinois becomes the first state to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday as
1983 - Vanessa Williams, Miss New York State, is named Miss America in Atlantic City, New
Jersey, the first African American winner in the history of the pageant. Williams
will relinquish her crown after a 1984 scandal and later stage a remarkable comeback
through a stellar recording career, which will include her multimillion-selling album,
"The Right Stuff".
1984 - New York Met's, Dwight Goodin, becomes the 2nd person to strike out 32 batters over
2 consecutive games.
1990 - "The Content of Our Character" is published by San Jose State University
professor Shelby Steele. The book will attract controversy because of its
provocative positions on affirmative action and race relations and win a 1992 National
1991 - Ground is broken for the Harold Washington wing of the DuSable Museum in Chicago,
Illinois. Founded by artist and poet Margaret T. Burroughs in 1961, the DuSable is
one of the oldest African American museums in the United States.
1994 - As some 20 warships sit off the coast of Haiti, former President Jimmy Carter, Sen.
Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and retired Gen. Colin Powell arrive in the Caribbean nation in an
11th-hour bid to avert a U.S.-led invasion.
- 1850 - Congress passes the Fugitive Slave Act, a part of the Compromise of 1850, which
allows slaveowners to reclaim slaves who had escaped to other states. The act also offers
federal officers a fee for captured slaves.
1895 - Booker T. Washington makes a speech at the Cotton States and International
Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. Known as the "Atlanta Compromise" speech,
Washington advocates acceptance of a subordinate role for African Americans, espouses
peaceful coexistence with white Southerners, and calls agitation over the question of
social equality "the extremist folly." The speech, which reportedly leaves
some African American listeners in tears and will incur the wrath of W.E.B. Du Bois and
others, secures Washington's reputation among whites as a successor to Frederick Douglass.
1905 - Eddie Anderson is born in Oakland, California. He will become an actor and will be
best known for his role on of 'Rochester' on "The Jack Benny Show."
1945 - 1000 white students walk out of three Gary, Indiana schools to protest
integration. There were similar disturbances in Chicago, Illinois and other Northern
and Western metropolitan areas.
1948 - Dr. Ralph J. Bunche is confirmed by the United Nations Security Council as acting
United Nations' mediator in Palestine.
1951 - Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr., neurosurgeon, is born in Detroit, Michigan.
He will graduate from from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1977 and will
become the first African American neurosurgery resident at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in
Baltimore, Maryland. He will receive the American Black Achievement Award from Ebony
and the Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary International. He will become best known for
his separation of siamese twins in 1989.
1962 - Rwanda, Burundi, Jamaica & Trinidad are admitted (105th-108th countries) to the
1964 - Holly Robinson (Peete) , actress ("21 Jump Street", "Hanging with
Mr. Cooper"), is born.
1967 - Ricky Bell, rhythm-and-blues singer, (Bell Biv Devoe and New Edition), is born.
1970 - Rock guitarist Jimi (James Marshall) Hendrix joins the ancestors at age 27 of a
drug overdose in London. A self-taught musician who blended rock, jazz, and blues
with British avant-garde rock, Hendrix redefined the use of the electric guitar. His
musical career deeply influenced modern musicians. His songs, "Purple Haze" and
"Foxy Lady" will become anthems for a generation at war in Vietnam.
1972 - Art Williams becomes the first African American National League umpire (Los Angeles
vs. San Diego).
1980 - Cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez, a Cuban, becomes the first person of African
descent sent on a mission in space (Soyuz 38).
1990 - Atlanta, Georgia is selected as the site of the XXV Olympiad Summer Games.
Mayor Maynard H. Jackson says the 1996 Summer Games will be the "single biggest
continuous infusion of economic development to Atlanta in the history of the city under
any circumstances." It is the second time the city, to host the games, is led
by an African American mayor.
1999 - Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs becomes the first player in major league baseball
history to reach 60 homers twice.
- 1865 - Atlanta University is founded.
1868 - White Democrats attack demonstrators, who are marching from Albany to Camilla,
Georgia, and kill nine African Americans. Several whites are wounded.
1931 - Benjamin Franklin Peay is born in Camden, South Carolina. He will become a
rhythm and blues singer better known as Brook Benton. He will amass 16 gold records and be
best known for the songs "A Rainy Night in Georgia" and "It's Just a Matter
1945 - Freda Payne is born in Detroit, Michigan. She will become a singer whose hits
will include "Band of Gold" in 1970.
1947 - Larry Brown is born. He will become a Washington Redskins' running back and
the third NFL player to rush over 4,000 yards in his first four professional seasons.
1956 - The first international conference of Black Writers & Artists meets at the
Sorbonne, in Paris, France.
1965 - Debbye Turner is born. She will become Miss America in 1990.
1981 - More than 300,000 demonstrators from labor and civil rights organizations protest
the social policies of the Reagan administration in a Solidarity Day march in Washington,
1989 - Gordon Parks's film "The Learning Tree" is selected among the first films
to be registered by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. The
National Film Registry was formed by an act of Congress the previous year to recognize
films that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Parks's 1969 movie joins other classic films such as "Casablanca," "Gone
With the Wind," and "The Wizard of Oz."
1989 - The first issue of Emerge magazine goes on sale. Emerge, founded by Wilmer C.
Ames, Jr., covers domestic and international news and issues from an African American
1994 - U.S. troops peacefully enter Haiti to enforce the return of exiled President
- 1664 - Maryland enacts the first anti-amalgamation law to prevent widespread
intermarriage of English women and African American men. Other colonies passed
similar laws: Virginia, 1691; Massachusetts 1705; North Carolina, 1715; South Carolina,
1717; Delaware, 1721; Pennsylvania, 1725.
1830 - The National Negro Convention, a group of 38 free African Americans from eight
states, meets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the Bethel A.M.E. Church, with the express
purpose of abolishing slavery and improving the social status of African Americans.
They will elect Richard Allen president and agree to boycott slave-produced goods.
1847 - William A. Leidesdorff is elected to San Francisco town council receiving the third
highest vote. Leidesdorff, who was one of the first African American elected
officials, becomes the town treasurer in 1848.
1850 - Slave trade is abolished in Washington, DC, but slavery will be allowed to continue
1885 - Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe ("Jelly Roll" Morton) is born in Gulfport (New
Orleans), Louisiana. He will become a renown jazz pianist and composer.
Morton, whose fabulous series of 1938 recordings for the Library of Congress are a gold
mine of information about early jazz, was a complex man. Vain, ambitious, and given
to exaggeration, he was a pool shark, hustler and gambler, as well as a brilliant pianist
and composer. His greatest talent, perhaps was for organizing and arranging.
The series of records he made with his "Red Hot Peppers" between 1926 and 1928
stands, alongside King Oliver's as the crowning glory of the New Orleans tradition and one
of the great achievements in Jazz.
1915 - Hughie Lee-Smith is born in Eustis, Florida. He will become a painter known
for such surrealistic landscapes as "Man with Balloons", "Man Standing on
His Head" and "Big Brother".
1943 - Sani Abacha is born in Kano, Nigeria. After being educated in his home state,
will become a soldier and go to England for advanced military education. He will achieve
many promotions as a soldier and by the mid-1980s, will enter Nigeria's military elite. In
1983 he will be among those who will overthrow Shehu Shagari, leader of the Second
Republic, in a coup which led to the military rule of Muhammadu Buhari. In
1985, Abacha will participate in a second coup, which will replace Buhari with
General Ibrahim Babangida. As head of state, Babangida will announce that free elections
will be held in the early 1990s. In 1993, however, after Babangida nullifies the results
of these belated free elections, Abacha will stage a third coup and oust his former ally.
His regime will be characterized by a concern with security that verges on
paranoia. Abacha will schedule elections for August, 1998, but months beforehand,
all five legal parties nominate him as their "consensus candidate." In
June, 1998, Abacha will join the ancestors when he dies unexpectedly of a heart attack.
1958 - Martin Luther King Jr. is stabbed in the chest by a deranged African American woman
while he is autographing books in a Harlem department store. The woman is placed
under mental observation.
1962 - Mississippi's governor, Ross Barnett, personally refuses to admit James Meredith to
University of Mississippi as its first African American student. (Meredith is later
1962 - The Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) is banned in an order issued by Sir
Edgar Whitehead, the prime minister of Southern Rhodesia.
1973 - Willie Mays announces his retirement from major league baseball at the end of the
1973 baseball season.
1979 - A bloodless coup overthrows Jean-Bedel Bokassa, self-styled head of the Central
African Empire, in a French-supported coup while he is visiting Libya.
1984 - NBC-TV debuts "The Cosby Show". Bill Cosby plays Dr. Heathcliff
(Cliff) Huxtable. His lovely wife, Clair, is played by Phylicia Rashad. The
Huxtable kids were Sondra, age 20 (Sabrina Le Beauf), Denise, age 16 (Lisa Bonet),
Theodore, age 14 (Malcom-Jamal Warner), Vanessa, age 8 (Tempestt Bledsoe) and Rudy, age 5
(Keshia Knight Pulliam). The premiere is the most watched show of the week and the
show goes on to become an Emmy Award-winner and one of the most popular on television for
eight years. The series, which had been rejected by other network television
executives, will become one of the most popular in television history.
1987 - Alfre Woodard wins an Emmy for outstanding guest performance in the dramatic series
"L.A. Law". It is her second Emmy award, her first having been for a
supporting role in "Hill Street Blues" in 1984.
1987 - Walter Payton scores the NFL record 107th rushing touchdown.
1999 - Lawrence Russell Brewer becomes the second white supremacist to be convicted in the
dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas. He will be later sentenced to death.
- 1814 - African American troops are cited for bravery in the Battle of New Orleans.
1872 - John Henry Conyers of South Carolina becomes first African American student at U.S.
Naval Academy (Annapolis). He later resigns.
1905 - The Atlanta Life Insurance Company is founded by Alonzo F. Herndon.
1909 - Kwame Nkrumah is born in Nkroful, Ghana. A leader in African colonial
liberation, Nkrumah will be the first prime minister of Ghana (1958-1966), but will be
forced into exile following a coup.
1932 - Melvin Van Peebles, playwright and director(Watermelon Man), is born.
1948 - Artis Gilmore, who will become a professional basketball all-star, is born.
1967 - Walter Washington is nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first mayor of
the newly reorganized municipal government of Washington, DC. In 1974, he will be
elected to the post, another first for an African American.
1970 - Oakland Athletics's Vida Blue no-hits the Minneapolis Twins, 6-0.
1971 - Alfonso Ribeiro, actor/pianist (Alfonso-"Silver Spoons", "Fresh
Prince of Bel Air"), is born.
1981 - Belize gains independence from Great Britain.
1985 - Michael Spinks becomes the first light heavyweight to defeat the reigning
heavyweight champion when he defeats Larry Holmes.
1989 - Army General Colin Powell receives Senate confirmation as Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the United States, thereby becoming the
military's highest-ranking African American.
1990 - Pittsburgh Pirate Barry Bond is the second person to hit 30 home runs and steal 50
bases in the same season.
- 1853 - George Washington Murray is horn near Rembert, South Carolina. A two-term
congressman from his home state, Murray will also be an inventor and holder of eight
patents for agricultural tools.
1862 - Five days after Union forces won the Battle of Antietam, President Lincoln issues a
preliminary emancipation proclamation. It states that if the rebelling states did
not return to the Union by January 1, 1863, he would declare their slaves to be
1906 - Race riots occur in Atlanta, Georgia, killing 21 people.
1915 - Xavier University of Louisiana opens in New Orleans, the first Catholic college for
African Americans in the United States.
1941 - Chester Lovelle Talton is born in Eldorado, Arkansas. At 49, he will become
the first African American Episcopalian bishop to be ordained in the western United
States. As suffragan bishop of the diocese of Los Angeles, he becomes the religious
leader of Episcopalians in the fourth-largest diocese in the United States.
1949 - Harold Carmichael, ex-NFL wide receiver,(Philadelphia Eagles), is born.
1950 - Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, director of the UN Trusteeship division and former professor
of political science at Howard University, is awarded the Nobel Peace prize for successful
mediation of the Palestinian peace accord.
1954 - Shari Belafonte(Harper), actress (Julie-Hotel), is born in New York City.
1960 - The Republic of Mali proclaims its independence.
1961 - The Interstate Commerce Commission issues regulation prohibiting segregation on
interstate buses and in terminal facilities.
1969 - San Francisco Giant, Willie Mays, becomes the first player since Babe Ruth to hit
600 home runs.
1985 - Robert Guillaume wins an Emmy for best leading actor in a comedy for Benson while
The Cosby Show wins for best comedy series.
1989 - Edward Perkins, the first African American ambassador to the Republic of South
Africa, becomes director-general of the United States Foreign Service. The first
African American named to the post, Perkins will be credited with bringing more minorities
into the foreign service.
1990 - Andre' Dawson steals his 300th base & is only player other than Willie Mays to
have 300 HRs, 300 steals & 2,000 hits.
- 1667 - In Williamsburg, Virginia, a law was passed, barring slaves from obtaining their
freedom by converting to Christianity.
1862 - A draft of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation is published in Northern Newspapers.
1863 - Mary Church (later Terrell) is born in Memphis, Tennessee. She will become an
educator, civil and woman's rights advocate, and U.S. delegate to the International Peace
Conference. She will also be the first African American to serve on the school
board in the District of Columbia.
1926 - John Coltrane, brilliant jazz saxophonist and composer who will be considered the
father of avant-garde jazz, is born in Hamlet, North Carolina.
1930 - Ray Charles (Robinson) is born in Albany, Georgia. Blind by the age of six, he will
study music and form his own band at the age of 24. A recorded performance at the
Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 will establish his career as one of the premier soul singers
in the United States. Among Charles's achievements will be three Grammys and Kennedy
Center honors in 1986.
1952 - Jersey Joe Walcott, loses his heavyweight title in the 13th round, to Rocky
Marciano, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Pay Television for sporting events begins
with the Marciano-Walcott fight, coast to coast, in 49 theatres in 31 cities.
1954 - Playwright George C. Wolfe is born in Tennessee. He will become critically
acclaimed for the controversial plays, "The Colored Museum", "Jelly's Last
Jam", and "Spunk".
1957 - Nine African American students, who had entered Little Rock Central High School in
Arkansas, are forced to leave because of a white mob outside.
1961 - President Kennedy names Thurgood Marshall to the United States Circuit Court of
1962 - Los Angeles Dodger, Maury Wills, steals record setting base #97 on his way to 104.
1979 - Lou Brock steals record 935th base and becomes the all-time major league record
- 1825 - Frances Ellen Watkins Harper is born free in Baltimore, Maryland. She will
grow up to be one of the most famous African American poets. Harper's mother will die
before she was three years old, leaving her an orphan. Harper will be raised by her uncle,
William Watkins, a teacher at the Academy for Negro Youth and a radical political figure
in civil rights. Watkins will be a major influence on Harper's political, religious, and
social views. Harper will attend the Academy for Negro Youth and the rigorous
education she will receive, along with the political activism of her uncle, affects and
influences her poetry. In 1850, she will become the first female to teach at Union
Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. After new laws pass in 1854, state that African
Americans entering through Maryland's northern border could be sold into slavery, Harper
will become an active abolitionist and writer. She will be known for her writings,
"Forest Leaves," "Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects," "Moses: A
Story of the Nile," "Achan's Sin," "Sketches of Southern Life,"
"Light Beyond the Darkness," "Iola Leroy: Or Shadows Uplifted,"
"The Martyr of Alabama and Other Poems," "Atlanta Offering Poems," and
"Idylls of the Bible."
1883 - The National Black convention meets in Louisville, Kentucky.
1894 - Sociologist and professor at Morehouse College, Fisk University, and Howard
University, E.(Edward) Franklin Frazier is born. He will organize the Atlanta
University School of Social Work (for African Americans), later becoming its
director. He will write the controversial publication (1927) "The Pathology of
Race Prejudice" in Forum Magazine. His writings will include "The Negro Family
in the United States" (1939), among the first sociological works on African Americans
researched and written by an African American. He will also write "Negro Youth
at the Crossways" (1940) and "Race and Culture Contacts in the Modern
World" (1957), which deals with African studies. Frazier will have a
distinguished career at Howard University as chairman of its sociology department as well
as serving as the first African American president of the American Sociological Society.
1931 - Cardiss Robertson (later Collins) is born in St. Louis, Missouri. Elected to
the House of Representatives in 1973 after the death of her husband, George, she will
serve in a leadership capacity often in her Congressional career, most notably as chairman
of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and
1935 - World Heavyweight Champion, Joe Louis, becomes the first African American boxer to
draw a million dollar gate.
1941 - John Mackey is born in New York City. He will become a football player in the
National Football League in 1963 and will play all but one of his pro years with the
Baltimore Colts. His career record will include 331 catches, 5,236 yards, and 38
touchdowns. He will be enshrined in the Football Hall of Fame in 1992 (the second
tight end to be so honored).
1946 - 'Mean' Joe (Charles) Greene is born in Temple, Texas. He will become a star
football player for North Texas State and will be a number one draft pick in the National
Football League in 1969 and will play his entire career (1969-1981) with the Pittsburgh
Steelers. He will become the "cornerstone of franchise" that dominated the
NFL in the 1970s. He will be an exceptional team leader, possessing size, speed,
quickness, strength, and determination. He will be NFL Defensive Player of The Year
twice (1972 and 1974). He will be All-Pro or All-AFC nine years and will play in four
Super Bowls (won all four), six AFC title games, and 10 Pro Bowls. He will be
enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. He will become a defensive line
coach with Pittsburgh after his retirement as an active player.
1953 - "Take a Giant Step", a drama by playwright Louis Peterson, opens on
1954 - Patrick Kelly is born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. A fashion design student,
Kelly will move to Paris, where his innovative and outrageous women's fashion designs,
featuring multiple buttons, bows and African American baby dolls, will win him wide
acclaim and make him the first and only American designer admitted to an exclusive
organization of French fashion designers.
1957 - President Eisenhower makes an address on nationwide TV and radio to explain why
troops are being sent to Little Rock, Arkansas. President Dwight D. Eisenhower,
earlier in the day sends 1,000 U.S. government paratroopers to Little Rock to aid in the
desegregation of the public schools. The troops will escort nine school children to
Central High School in the first federally supported effort to integrate the nation's
public schools. The nine black students who had entered Little Rock Central High School in
Arkansas were forced to withdraw because of a white mob outside.
1962 - United States Circuit Court of Appeals orders the Mississippi Board of Higher
Education to admit James Meredith to the University of Mississippi or be held in contempt
1973 - Leaders of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC)
declare the independence of Guinea-Bissau from Portugal. Portugal will recognize
this independence the following year. The PAIGC was formed by Amilcar Cabral and Raphael
Barbosa in 1956. Luis Cabral, Amilcar's half-brother, will become Guinea-Bissau's first
1977 - Rev. John T. Walker is installed as the sixth -- and first African American bishop
of the Episcopal Church when he is installed in the diocese of Washington, DC.
1988 - Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the United States sets the heptathlon woman's record
- 1861 - The Secretary of the Navy authorizes the enlistment of African Americans in the
Union Navy. The enlistees could achieve no rank higher than "boys" and receive
pay of one ration per day and $10 per month.
1886 - Peter "The Black Prince" Jackson wins the Australian heavyweight title,
becoming the very first man of African descent to win a national boxing crown.
1911 - Dr. Eric Williams, former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, is born.
1924 - In a letter to his friend Alain Locke, Langston Hughes writes "I've done a
couple of new poems. I have no more paper, so I'm sending you one on the back of
this letter." The poem, "I, Too", will be published two years later
and be among his most famous.
1951 - Robert Allen "Bob" McAdoo, Jr. is born. He will become a one of the
best-shooting big men of all time in professional basketball. He will win Rookie of the
Year, a Most Valuable Player Award and three consecutive scoring championships, all in his
first four years in the NBA. Over fourteen seasons, McAdoo will score 18,787 points
and average 22.1 point per game. A five-time NBA All Star, he will shoot .503 from the
field and .754 from the line, scoring in double figures in all but one season.
1957 - With 300 U.S. Army troops standing guard, nine African American children forced to
withdraw the previous day from Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, because of
unruly white crowds, are escorted to back to class.
1962 - Sonny Liston knocks out Floyd Patterson in the first round to become the world
heavyweight boxing champion.
1962 - An African American church is destroyed by fire in Macon, Georgia. This is the
eighth African American church burned in Georgia in one month.
1962 - Governor Ross Barnett again defies court orders and personally denies James
Meredith admission to the University of Mississippi.
1965 - Willie Mays hits his fiftieth home run of the baseball season, making him the
oldest player to accomplish this. He was 34 years old. Ten years before this,
at the age of 24, he was the youngest man to accomplish the same feat.
1965 - Scotty Pippen is born. He will become a professional basketball player and will be
traded to the Houston Rockets in 1998 after 11 distinguished seasons with the Chicago
Bulls, for whom he averaged 18.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 833 NBA games. He
will earn All-NBA First Team honors three times in his career and All-Defensive First Team
honors in each of seven seasons (1992-1999. In addition, Pippen will earn NBA World
Championships in six of the eight years and Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996. He
will be selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.
1968 - Will Smith is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will become a rapper at
the age of 12 and will be know for his hits "Nightmare on My Street" and
"Parents Just Don't Understand." In 1990 he will start his acting career
with a six-year run as the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air." He will go to become
a major motion picture box office attraction, starring in "Six Degrees of
Separation," "Made in America," "Independence Day," "Men In
Black," and "Wild, Wild West."
1974 - Barbara W. Hancock is the first African American woman to be named a White House
1988 - Florence Griffith Joyner runs 100 meters in record Olympic time of 10.54 seconds.
1991 - Pioneer filmmaker Spencer Williams's 1942 movie "Blood of Jesus", a story
of the African American religious experience, is among the third group of twenty-five
films added to the Library of Congress's National Film Registry Williams, best known for
his role of Andy in the television series "Amos 'n' Andy", was more importantly,
an innovative film director and a contemporary of Oscar Micheaux. Williams's
film joins other classics like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "2001: A Space
- 1867 - Maggie Lena Walker is born in Richmond, Virginia. She will become a noted
businesswoman, civil leader, and founder and president of Saint Luke Penny Savings
Bank. As a result, she will be the first woman president of a bank in America.
1907 - The People's Savings Bank is incorporated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Founded by former African American congressman George H. White, of North Carolina, the
bank will help hundreds of African Americans buy homes and start businesses until the
illness of its founder forces its closure in 1918.
1937 - Bessie Smith joins the ancestors in Clarksville, Mississippi, after succumbing to
injuries sustained in car crash. She was one of the nation's greatest blues singers and
was nicknamed "the Empress of the Blues." In 1925, Smith and Louis Armstrong
made the definitive rendition of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," and in 1929 she
made her only movie appearance in the movie of the same name.
1957 - The order alerting regular army units for possible riot duty in other Southern
cities is cancelled by Army Secretary Wilbur M. Brucker.
1962 - A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., becomes the first African American member of the Federal
Trade Commission. It is one of the Trenton, New Jersey, native's many
accomplishments, including appointment as a federal district judge and U.S. Circuit Judge
of the Third Circuit.
1962 - Los Angeles Dodger Maury Wills becomes the 1st baseball player to steal 100 bases
(will go on to steal 104).
1962 - Mississippi bars James Meredith for the third time. Lt. Gov. Paul Johnson and
a blockade of state patrolmen turn back Meredith and federal marshals about four hundred
yards from the gate of the school.
1968 - The Studio Museum of Harlem opens in New York City. Conceived by Frank
Donnelly and Carter Burden, the Studio Museum will become an influential venue for
exhibitions of African American artists in all media.
1968 - St. Louis Cardinals' Bob Gibson's completes his 13th shutout, and ends the season
with a 1.12 ERA.
1994 - Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, President Clinton announces that he has
lifted most U.S. sanctions against Haiti and urges other ations to follow suit.
1994 - Jury selection begins in Los Angeles for the murder trial of O.J. Simpson.
1998 - Grammy-winning jazz singer Betty Carter joins the ancestors in New York City at age
- 1822 - Hiram R. Revels, is born free in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He will become the
first African American U.S. Senator, elected from Mississippi.
1862 - The First Louisiana Native Guards, the first African American regiment to receive
official recognition, is mustered into the Union army. The Regiment is composed of
free African Americans from the New Orleans area.
1867 - Louisiana voters endorse the constitutional convention and elect delegates in the
first election under The Reconstruction Acts. The vote was 75,000 for the convention and
1875 - Branch Normal College opens in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. A segregated unit of the
state university, the college is established by Joseph C. Corbin.
1876 - Edward Mitchell Bannister wins a bronze medal for his painting "Under the
Oaks" at the American Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The
award to Bannister will cause controversy among whites who think African Americans
incapable of artistic excellence.
1877 - John Mercer Langston is named Minister to Haiti.
1934 - Greg Morris is born in Cleveland, Ohio. He will come to Hollywood in the early
1960s to become an actor after some minor stage experience in Seattle. He will have guest
roles on such series as "Dr. Kildare," "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and
"The Twilight Zone" before being cast in "Mission: Impossible."
He will be one of the first African American actors to star in a hit series during the
1960s, playing Barney Collier, the quiet, efficient electronics expert on "Mission:
Impossible," which ran from 1966 to 1973. In 1979, he will go to Las Vegas to
film the television series "Vega$," in which he plays Lt. David Nelson. He will
like the city so much he will decide to make it his home. He will join the ancestors
after succumbing to cancer there in 1996.
1936 - Don Cornelius is born. He will become the creator, producer, and host of the
TV show, "Soul Train" in 1970. The show will become the longest running program
originally produced for first-run syndication in the entire history of television.
The show s resounding success will position it as the cornerstone of the Soul Train
franchise which includes the annual specials: "Soul Train Music Awards," the
"Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards" and the "Soul Train Christmas
1940 - African American leaders protest discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces and war
industries at a White House meeting with President Roosevelt.
1944 - Stephanie Pogue is born in Shelby, North Carolina. She will become an artist
and art professor whose works will be collected by New York City's Whitney Museum of
American Art and the Studio Museum of Harlem while she will exhibit widely in the United
States, Europe, Japan, and South America.
1950 - Heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles defeats Joe Louis.
1953 - Diane Abbott is born in the working-class neighborhood of Paddington in London,
England. Her mother (a nurse) and father (a welder) had moved there in 1951 from
Jamaica. A graduate of Cambridge University, she will make history on June 11, 1987,
becoming the first female of African descent to be a member of the British Parliament. Her
outspoken criticism of racism and her commitment to progressive politics will make her a
controversial figure in Great Britain's Labour Party.
1954 - Public school integration begins in Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland.
1961 - Sierre Leone becomes the 100th member of the United Nations.
1967 - Washington, DC's Anacostia Museum, dedicated to informing the community of the
contributions of African Americans to United States social, political and cultural
history, opens its doors to the public.
1988 - Several athletes, among them black Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, are expelled from
the Olympic Games for anabolic steroid use. Johnson's gold medal, won in the
100-meter dash, is awarded to African American Carl Lewis, the second-place finisher.
- 1785 - David Walker, who will become an abolitionist and write the famous "Walker's
Appeal," is born free in Wilmington, North Carolina.
1829 - "Walker's Appeal (To the Coloured Citizens of the World)," a racial
antislavery pamphlet, is published in Boston, Massachusetts, by David Walker.
1833 - Lemuel Haynes, Revolutionary War veteran and first African American to be ordained
by the Congregational Church, joins the ancestors at the age of 80.
1912 - W.C. Handy's ground-breaking "Memphis Blues" is published in Memphis,
Tennessee. The composition was originally entitled "Mr. Crump" and was
written for the 1909 political campaign of Edward H. "Boss" Crump.
1938 - Ben E. King is born in North Carolina. He will become a rhythm and blues
singer and will be best known for his song, "Stand By Me."
1941 - Charley Taylor is born. He will become a NFL wide receiver/running back with
the Washington Redskins.
1945 - Todd Duncan debuts with the New York City Opera as Tonio in Il Pagliacci. He
is the first African American to sing a leading role with a major American company, almost
ten years before Marian Anderson sings with the Metropolitan Opera.
1961 - Ossie Davis's "Purlie Victorious" opens on Broadway. The play stars
Davis, Ruby Dee, Godfrey Cambridge, Alan Alda, and Beah Richards.
1961 - Atlanta's segregated restaurants and other public facilities are peacefully
integrated, part of a plan adopted by city officials earlier in the year.
1967 - Walter Washington takes office as the first mayor of the District of Columbia.
1972 - The Secretary of the Army repeals the dishonorable discharges of 167 soldiers
involved in the Brownsville (Texas) Raid. The soldiers, members of the 25th Infantry
who were involved in a riot with the city's police and merchants, were dishonorably
discharged by President Theodore Roosevelt without a trial.
1976 - Muhammad Ali retains the heavyweight boxing championship in a close 15-round
decision over Ken Norton at Yankee Stadium.
1979 - Larry Holmes retains the heavyweight boxing championship by knocking out Ernie
Shavers in 11 rounds.
1981 - Joseph Paul Franklin, avowed racist, is sentenced to life in prison for killing 2
African American joggers in Salt Lake City, Utah.
1987 - The National Museum of African Art, now a part of the Smithsonian Institution,
opens on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Founded by Warren M. Robbins in 1964 as a
private educational institution, it is the only museum in the United States devoted
exclusively to the collection, study, and exhibition of the art of sub-Saharan Africa.
1990 - Marvin Gaye gets a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
1991 - Miles Davis, jazz musician, joins the ancestors at the age of 65 from pneumonia.
- 1864 - At the Battle of New Market Heights, Sergeant Major Christian Fleetwood and 12
other African Americans fight valiantly for the Union s cause. They will receive the
Congressional Medal of Honor for their action, the following year.
1916 - Henry Green Parks, Jr. is born. He will become an entrepreneur and owner of
Parks Sausage Company of Baltimore, Maryland. In 1969, the company will become the
first African American owned publicly traded company, when it is listed on the
1918 - Edward Thomas Demby is elected suffragan bishop of the Protestant Episcopal diocese
1931 - Dr. Lenora Moragne, one of the leading nutrition scientists in the United States,
is born in Evanston, Illinois.
1940 - The first United States merchant ship to be commanded by an African American
captain (Hugh Mulzac), is launched at Wilmington, Delaware.
1947 - Dizzy Gillespie presented his first Carnegie Hall concert in New York City, adding
a sophisticated jazz touch to the famous concert emporium. Dizzy will become one of
the jazz greats of all time. His trademark: Two cheeks pushed out until it looked
like his face would explode.
1948 - Bryant Gumbel is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will become the editor of
Black Sports magazine and a successful sportscaster before joining NBC s Today Show as the
first African American anchor of a national network morning news entertainment program.
1954 - Willie Mays makes his famous "over-the-shoulder catch" of Vic Wertz' 460'
1962 - President John F. Kennedy sends federal troops to enforce integration of the
University of Mississippi.
1962 - Lt. Governor Paul Johnson of Mississippi is found guilty of civil contempt for
blocking the entrance of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.
1965 - Ralph Boston of the United States, sets the long jump record at 27' 4 3/4".
1966 - Bechuanaland gains independence from Great Britain and becomes Botswana.
1975 - The first African American owned television station in the United States, WGPR-TV
in Detroit, begins broadcasting.
1977 - In the most-watched prize fight in history to date, Muhammad Ali beats Ernie
Shavers (in a fifteen round decision) to claim the heavyweight championship boxing crown.
The bout was televised from New York City's Madison Square Garden and was
officiated by the first woman official of a heavyweight title boxing match before an
estimated 70 million viewers.
1979 - Sir William Arthur Lewis, Professor of Economics at Princeton University, becomes
the first person of African descent to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics.
1988 - Florence Griffith Joyner of the United States, sets the 200 meter woman's record in
1998 - Former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley joins the ancestors at the age of 80.
- 1935 - John Royce "Johnny" Mathis is born in San Francisco, California.
He will become a romantic pop singer who will amass more than 50 gold and platinum records
for such hits as "Misty". He will also have the distinction of having an
album on the Billboard pop charts for the longest period, 560 weeks.
1935 - "Porgy and Bess," a folk opera by composer George Gershwin, has its
premiere in Boston at the Colonial Theatre. It was a flop! It was revived in 1942
and ran longer than any revival in the history of American musical theater.
1942 - Frankie Lymon is born in New York City. He will become the lead singer of
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and will record his signature song, "Why Do Fools
Fall in Love?," at age fourteen. He will develop a serious drug problem before he
turns twenty and will join the ancestors after succumbing to a drug overdose on the
bathroom floor of his grandmother's apartment at age 25, on February 28, 1968.
1943 - Marilyn McCoo (Davis) is born in Jersey City, New Jersey. She will become a
singer with the group, "The Fifth Dimensions". Some of the hits with the group
will be "Up, Up and Away," and "Aquarius." She will have a solo
hit, "One Less Bell to Answer," and will record "You Don't Have to be a
Star" with her husband, Billy Davis, Jr. She will later become a TV hostess for
"Solid Gold" from 1981-1984, and from 1986-88. She will also be a TV music
reporter for "Preview."
1962 - A large force of federal marshals escorts James H. Meredith to the campus of the
University of Mississippi. President Kennedy federalizes the Mississippi National
Guard. University of Mississippi students and adults from Oxford,
Mississippi, and other southern communities riot on the university campus. Two
persons are killed and one hundred or more are wounded.
1966 - Bechuanaland becomes the independent Republic of Botswana with Sir Seretse Khama as
its first President.
1975 - Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier square off in a fight billed as "The Thrilla in
Manila". Ali will win the fight and retain his world heavyweight title when,
after 14 rounds, Frazier's trainer refuses to let him continue.
1976 - Two Centuries of Black American Art opens at the Los Angeles County Museum of
Art. The exhibit features over 60 lithographers, painters, and sculptors including
19th century masters Joshua Johnston, Edward Bannister, and Henry O. Tanner as well as
modern artists Charles White, Romare Bearden, and Elizabeth Catlett. The
introduction to the exhibit's catalogue asserts that the assembled artists' work proves
that the human creative impulse can triumph in the face of impossible odds, and at times
even because of them.
1991 - President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's first freely elected president, is
overthrown by a military junta. The three-member junta that takes over begins a
campaign of terror and violence that in a three-year period will cause the deaths of over
5000 Haitians and force tens of thousands to flee the island by boat. Jean-Bertrand
Aristide sat in the presidency for only seven months.
Updated by K. Ferguson
Kelly: March 16, 2002