Fisk University Founded Jan09

Fisk University Founded...

1866 – Fisk University Established. Fisk University, a historically Black university was founded on this day in 1866. It was the first Black institution to gain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school sits on 40 acres of land in Nashville, Tennessee and is one of four historically Black to earn a tier-one ranking on the list of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges in the 2011. 1906 – Paul Laurence Dunbar Dies. Paul Laurence Dunbar, a poet, novelist and playwright died on this day in 1906. His works often used Negro dialect and he became very popular and one of the first nationally renowned Black writers. The New York Times described him as “a true singer of the people — white or black.” Dunbar was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1900 and he moved to Colorado at the suggestion of his doctors. They also encouraged him to drink whiskey to treat the illness and he ended up falling into alcoholism. He succumbed to tuberculosis in 1906 age of 33.     1935 – Earl G. Graves born Earl G. Graves, publisher of Black Enterprise magazine and entrepreneur was born on this day in 1935. A graduate of Morgan State University, Graves found a void in the amount of attention given to the Black consumer. He decided to create a newsletter discussing the issues of the Black community as well as its needs for products and services. His work helped to create an interest in marketing products to the Black community. Eventually he expanded his newsletter into a full fledged high quality magazine which he called Black Enterprise which debuted in August 1970. Over the years he has served in various positions and on boards for several prominent companies. Graves has been hailed...

African National Congress Founded Jan08

African National Congress Founded...

1912 – African National Congress Founded. African National Congress was founded on this date in 1912.  The African National Congress is the Republic of South Africa’s governing political party and was originally named the South African Native National Congress. The organization’s aim was to increase the rights of the population of Blacks in South Africa. It’s first president was John Dube and in 1923 its name was changed to the ANC. The organization called for boycotts and strikes but eventually when the peaceful, non-violence goals of the organization seemed ineffective in battling apartheid, a military wing of the ANC was organized called the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961. The MK was co-founded by Nelson Mandela who served as its chairman and it initiated a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government, bombing power plants, military installations and communications apparatuses throughout the country. Although this was  clearly violent action taken in protest, the MK took actions to minimize casualties. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and was connived of conspiracy to overthrow the government, sentenced to life in prison. After serving 27 years in prison, Mandela was released in 1990 and became the President of South Africa in 1994. The ANC is the prevailing political party in South Africa today.   1922 –  Colonel Charles Young Dies. Colonel Charles Young, the first Black to achieve that rank died on this day in 1922 in Lagos, Nigeria. Young was only the third graduate of the West Point, the United States Military Academy and became the first Black to serve as the superintendent of a National Park (the Sequoia and General Grant national parks) the first Black military attache (to Port Au Prince, Haiti). At his death, he was still the highest ranked Black military official....

Marian Anderson in Debut at the Met...

1955 – Marian Anderson made debut at Metropolitan Opera. Anderson, who made history singing in front of the Lincoln Memorial after being denied the opportunity to sing before an integrated audience at Constitution Hall, became the first Black to sing a the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.She sang at the invitation of director Sir Rudolf Bing and sang the role of Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. Before she could sing a word the crowd broke into an applause. Afterwards, she was named a member of the Metropolitan Opera Company. For a complete biography of Marion Anderson, visit her profile at Great Black Heroes website. 1891 – Zora Neale Hurston born. Zora Neale Hurston was born on this date in 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama. She attended Howard university, Barnard College and Columbia University. She was a noted author and anthroplogist who gained great fame during the Harlem Rennassaine. She authored more then 50 short stories and four novels, the most famous of which was Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. Later that year she was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship to conduct ethnographic research in Haiti and Jamaica. She died on January 28, 1960 in Florida. 1950 – The James Weldon Johnson Collection opens at Yale. The collection focuses on the works of Black writers and artists, particularly those prominent during the Black Renaissance. The collection was started when Grace Nail Johnson, James widow. Numerous Black writers and artists thereafter donated their papers including: Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, Walter White and Poppy Cannon White, Dorothy Peterson, Chester Himes, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, and Wallace Thurman. 1986 – Howard Beach Incident. White teens in Howard Beach chased Michael Griffith, an African-American youth, onto a freeway where he was...

John Singleton Born

1968 – John Singleton Born in Los Angeles California. He attended Pasadena City College and the University of Southern California from which he graduated in 1990. Singleton made his film directorial debut in 1991 with Boyz in the Hood. The film depicted life in South Central Los Angeles and the struggles of gang-life and trying to steer clear of it. Singleton received Academy Award nominations for both Best Screenplay and Best Director (the youngest person and first Black Director ever nominated). He subsequently directed more ten films, including Poetic Justice, Baby Boy, and2 Fast 2 Furious. 1867 – The Peabody Fund is Established. The Peabody Fund was established by George Peabody, an American-British entrepreneur and philanthropist. The fund was established for the purpose of promoting “intellectual, moral, and industrial education in the most destitute portion of the Southern States.” Unfortunately, because the fund was restricted from flowing the newly established schools, none of the funding aided newly freed slaves because there were no schools already established for them. In 1937, the Southern Education Foundation which was created by the Peabody fund, established three new funds (the John F. Slater Fund, the Negro Rural School Fund, and the Virginia Randolph Fund) aimed at supporting education for southern Blacks. 1831 – New England Anti-Slavery Society Organized. The New England Anti-Slavery Society was founded on this date in 1831, It was organized at African Baptist Church on Boston’s Beacon Hill by William Lloyd Garrison, the editor of the Liberator. The goal of the organization was the immediate abolishment of slavery. The organization sponsored a lecture series which travelled throughout New England. The organization, as it travelled, attempted to create local spinoff societies, establishing 47 of them within two years.The organization also created annual anti-slavery conventions. In 1835, the organization was absorbed into the...

Kappa Alpha Psi Formed Jan05

Kappa Alpha Psi Formed...

1911 – Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity founded. Kappa Alpha Psi (ΚΑΨ), a predominantly Black college fraternity was founded on this date. at Indiana University Bloomington. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was founded by Elder W. Diggs, Byron K. Armstrong, John M. Lee, Harvey T. Asher, Marcus P. Blakemore, Guy L. Grant, Paul Caine, George Edmonds, Ezera D. Alexander and Edward G. Irvin. The fraternity was founded as Kappa Alpha Nu. The fraternity opened a second chapter at the university of Illinois in 1913 and then expanded to Black and white schools throughout the country. The name Kappa Alpha Nu was conceived in tribute to an earlier fraternity, Alpha Kappa Nu. Unfortunately, then name was used derogatorily by racist student. Founder Elder Diggs was watching an initiate compete in a track meet when he heard slurs from the stands directed at the athlete, calling out “Kappa Alpha Nig.” The fraternity subsequently changed the name to Kappa Alpha Psi on April 15, 1915. The fraternity is known for its use of canes in step shows. The cane sport the fraternity colors and was recognized as an important part of the fraternity’s culture in 1985. The fraternity engages in several national campaigns to promote education and occupational guidance for youths.   1943 – William H. Hastie Resigns Position as Aide to Secretary of War. Hastie, a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School, served as a Professor at Howard University Law School where he taught Thurgood Marshall. He later served as assistant solicitor for the Department of the Interior was the first Black Federal Judge, appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to the United States District Court for the Virgin Islands. He resigned his position as a judge to become the Dean of Howard Law School in 1939 and during World War II was...

Rappers Delight Hits the Top 40...

1980 – Rappers Delight Becomes the First Hip Hop Song to Appear in the Top 40. The song, while not the first rap song, was the first huge hit in the nascent genre. It was performed by a group called the Sugar Hill Gang. The group was lined up by Sylvia Robinson who had heard young people rapping and wanted to record them, but she was having a hard time finding anyone willing to record. Her oldest son Joey knew Henry Jackson (Big Bank Hank) and recruited him for the project and Michael Anthony Wright (Wonder Mike) and Guy O’Brian (Master Gee) followed and the story is that they met her on Friday and recorded the song on Monday in one 15 minute take. The story is not without controversy however. The main groove on the song was “sampled” from Chic’s disco song “Good Times.” Niles Rodgers, who wrote good time was in a dance club and heard his song being played with rap lyrics over top of it. When he found out it had been put out in an album, he and Bernard Edwards took legal action and thereafter received co-writing credits and proceeds from the sale of Rappers Delights. As well, Big Bank Hank helped to manage a rapper named named Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers and asked Caz for some lyrics to use. Caz gave him a book of his rhymes and Herc used some of them almost verbatim on he song, even spelling out Casanova’s name. Caz, nonetheless, did not receive any writing credits or financial compensation. Beyond the financial aspects, many in the hip-hop industry were very angry that three guys who barely knew each other were launched into stardom when other in the community with serious...

Alvin Ailey Born

1931 – Alvin Ailey was born on January 5, 1931 in Rogers, Texas. Ailey would become a world renowned dancer and choreographer. After moving to California and studying under Lester Horton, Alvin performed in a number of Broadway shows alongside Diahann Carroll, Pearl Bailey, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte and Ricardo Montalbán. He also performed on television and in a nightclub act called “Al and Rita” with Maya Angelou. Feeling constrained and underwhelmed, he decided to create dance performances on his own and opened the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958.  Ailey mixed modern dance with traditional ballet, jazz and African dance to tell the stories of African-American pain and sorrows. While his dance group focused on Black dance and issues, it was multi-racial  and appealed to a wide audience. In 1962, the U.S. State Department sponsored an overseas tour for the company, traveling through  the Far East, Southeast Asia and Australia as part of President John F. Kennedy’s progressive “President’s Special International Program for Cultural Presentations.” His two signature works were Revelations (1960) which drew upon his early memories of life in Texas and Cry (1971) which he dedicated to his mother and Black women everywhere. Ailey died in New York in 1989.   ]1943 – George Washington Carver Day celebrated. George Washington Carver Day honors the brilliant agricultural chemist who died on this day in 1943. Carver is best known for finding hundreds of uses for the common peanut revitalizing the peanut industry and transforming the agricultural industry. His ideas of crop rotation revitalized farmlands and replenished soil with rich nutrients changing the way in which farmers planted and harvested their crops. Called the “Wizard of Tuskegee” Carver died at age 79 in Tuskegee, Alabama. For more information on George Washington Carver, visit his profile at Great Black Heroes....

Floyd Patterson Born Jan04

Floyd Patterson Born

1935 – Floyd Patterson Born. Patterson was born in Waco, North Carolina and was an Olympic Gold Medalist middle-wright boxer in the 1952 games in Helsinki, Finland in 1952. He later trained under Cus D’Amato and would go on to defeat Archie Moore to become the youngest Heaweight boxing champion of the world. He fought against all of the major champions of the day and compiled a record of 55-8-1 with 40 knockouts. He lost famously to Sonny Liston and then Muhammad Ali and retired in 1972. He would serve as the chairman of the New York State Boxing Commission and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991. 1777 – Prince Hall, an abolitionist and the founder of the first African American Masonic lodge, led 73 Black delegates in presenting a request to the Massachusetts Senate requesting funds to emigrate to Africa. Hall believed that they could take the knowledge gained in the United States to Africa, whereby they could be come leaders on the continent. When the Senate rejected his plea, Hall turned to trying to improve the plight of Blacks through education and social...

Jesse Jackson Frees Pilot Jan03

Jesse Jackson Frees Pilot...

1984 – Jesse Jackson Secures Release of Black Pilot. On this date in 1984, Reverend Jesse Jackson was able to secure the release of a U.S. Bombardier Navigator. Lt. Robert Goodman was part of a crew on a bombing mission over Beirut when his plane was hit by a missile. It crashed, killing the pilot and injuring Goodman. He was captured by Syrian troops and taken to Damascus where he was held for 30 days. The United States tried repeatedly to secure his release but to no avail. In January 1984, Jesse Jackson travelled with an entourage of dignitaries, including Reverends Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright, to Syria, where the were able to secure the release of Goodman. Upon his return to the United States, Goodman was welcomed by President Ronald Reagan at the White House. Reagan proclaimed that Goodman “exemplified qualities of leadership and loyalty.” Reagan also praised Jackson saying that he had “earned our gratitude and our admiration.”   1989 – The Arsenio Hall Show Premieres. The Arsenio Hall Show premieres on this date in 1989. It is appeared in syndication until 1994 and was the first late night talk show regularly hosted by a Black entertainer. Hall appealed to a younger, hipper audience than hosts like Johnny Carson or Tom Snyder. He brought in new musical acts and interacted with his audience in a manner that was fresh and new. The show was distributed by Paramount and taped at the Paramount studios in Los Angeles.     1961 – Adam Clayton Powell elected Chairman On this date in 1961, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was elected Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. In this position he presided over several federal social programs. Under his leadership, Congress expanded the minimum wage,...

Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Born...

1898 – Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Born. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander was born on this date in 1898. She was very highly educated as a youth and lived with her Uncle, Lewis Baxter Moore, a Dean at Howard University. She would find great success in life, receiving the Francis Sergeant Pepper fellowship which allowed her to become the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in Economics in the United States, graduating in 1921 from the University of Pennsylvania. She was also the first woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and to pass the Pennsylvania Bar in 1927. Later, she served on the Commission on Human Relations for the City of Philadelphia. She retired from practicing law in 1982. and died on November 1,...

Emancipation Proclamation Signed

1863 – The Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order issued on January 1, 1863 during the American Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln declared that all slaves held in the 10 rebel states were freed. It resulted in almost four million slaves being freed over the course of the war.Although the Proclamation did not account for any compensation to the slave owners, it was never challenged in court. It was ratified by Congress in February 1063  and it was ratified by the states in December 1865. The Proclamation applied only to the ten states in rebellion against the Union. Slavery was outlawed in all of the other slave holding states by other Federal and state legislation.   1997 – Kofi Annan of Ghana becomes first Black Secretary General of the United Nations, replacing Secretary-General, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt. He served previously as a Budget Officer for the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations and later as the Director of Tourism in Ghana. He served as the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations before taking on the Secretary-General position, in which he served until December 31, 2006. 1808 – The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807, the federal law prohibiting the importation of African slaves went into effect on January 1, 1808. The act was the results of an effort to bring forward a bill by Vermont Senator  Stephen Row Bradley and provided that no slaves would be imported into the United States. The bill was signed into law on March 3, 1807 by President Thomas Jefferson and went into effect on January 1, 1808.   1831 – The Liberator Begins Publishing. The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper was first published by William Lloyd Garrison on this date in 1831. It was published for 35 years as a weekly publication and was one of the most influential newspaper working to end slavery in the United...

Roberto Clemente Dies in Plane Crash Dec31

Roberto Clemente Dies in Plane Crash...

  1972 – Roberto Clemente Dies in Plane Crash Roberto Clemente, a 15-time Major League Baseball All-Star died at the age of 38 in a plane crash bringing aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. A member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Clemente earned 12 Golden Gloves and four National League batting titles and his Major League career and posted a career batting average of .317. Clemente learned that much of the cargo being sent to the relief victims in Nicaragua was not being received. He decided to accompany the cargo in order to ensure that it would arrive as planned. The plane carrying him crashed shortly after takeoff off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. The plane has had a history of mechanical problems and was overloaded by more than 4,000 lbs. Clemente was survived by his wife Vera and three children and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame the year after his...

Jack Johnson Wins Heavyweight Boxing Title Dec26

Jack Johnson Wins Heavyweight Boxing Title...

  Jack Johnson Wins Heavyweight Boxing Title 1908 – Jack Johnson Wins Heavyweight Boxing Title On this date in 1908, Jack Johnson became the first Black person to win the World’s Heavyweight Boxing title belt. Johnson was awarded the belt when police entered the ring to stop the fight. Johnson was winning the fight in an extremely lopsided manner and won via a technical knockout of Tommy Burns. He defended his title successfully, including against Jim Jeffries, a former heavyweight champion who was called out of retirement as the “Great White Hope,” but was knocked out by Johnson in the 15th round of what many called “the Fight of the Century.” Johnson, who lived a very extravagant lifestyle and engaged in romantic relationships with white women, was hounded by critics as well as law enforcement throughout his career. He was eventually arrested under the Mann Act for crossing state lines with a white woman who would later become his wife. Many believed this to have been a sham trial aimed at ruining his career and removing him from the national scene. He served a year in prison and died in an automobile accident in 1046. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954. 1966 – Jimi Hendrix Writes Purple Haze Ten days after his group, “The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” released their first hit song in the United Kingdom, “Hey Joe,” Jimi Hendrix penned his biggest hit song, “Purple Haze.” It became his breakthrough hit in the United States and propelled him to stardom in the 1960s rock scene. After serving in the military int he United States, Hendrix moved to the United Kingdom where he was recruited by Chas Chandler, a former member of the group “The Animals.” After teaming with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix saw...

To Kill a Mockingbird Opens in Theaters...

To Kill a Mockingbird Opens in Theaters 1962 – To Kill a Mockingbird Opens in Theaters To Kill a Mockingbird, a major motion picture film based on the1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper opened in theaters on this day in 1962. The story takes place in the Great Depression era fictional southern town of  of Maycomb, Alabama. It starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a small town country lawyer assigned to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Ewell. Robinson was portrayed by Tony nominated actor Brock Peters. The film is seen through the eyes of Atticus’ young daughter Scout, an reflects her innocence in a world of racism, allowing the viewer to have compassion for Robinson’s character and to feel the bitter hatred directed towards him. The movie is noted in history as having been one of the early films focused on the plight of Blacks living in the Jim Crow south as it took aim on the injustices faced by Robinson and his family. It also prompted a whole nation of children to want to become lawyers in order to fight the good fight, as Atticus...

Josh Gibson Born Dec21

Josh Gibson Born

Josh Gibson Born. Josh Gibson was born on this date. He was a professional baseball player, a star of the Negro Leagues and one of the greatest players in history. He played as a catcher and was one of the most feared power hitters in history, alleged to have hit more than 800 home runs in his career. He began playing in 1927 on a team sponsored by Gimbels Department store. and later signed by the Pittsburgh Crawfords. H also played for the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues, the Dragones de Ciudad Trujillo of the Dominican League and Azules de Veracruz of the Mexican League. One of the greatest experiences for him was when he played for the Kansas City Monarchs alongside teammates Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson. In what many feel was his best year, he  batted .467 with 55 home runs and batted .351 for his career. He died in 1943 after suffering from a cancerous brain tumor and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. The United States Postal System designated a stamp in his honor in...

Florence Griffith Joyner Born Dec21

Florence Griffith Joyner Born...

1959 – Florence Griffith-Joyner Born. Florence Delorez Griffith Joyner was born on this date in 1959. Nicknamed Flo-Jo, Griffith-Joyner was considered by many to be the faster woman on Earth as she still holds the world record for both the 100 and 200 meter dash, set in the 1987 World Championships and the 1988 Olympic Games respectively. She was married to Olympic triple jumper Al Joyner and the sister-in-law of the heptathlete and long jumper Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Joyner served as the head coach of the University of California at Los Angeles track team and Florence transferred to the school where she ran track and she graduated in 1982 with a degree in psychology. After her success at the Olympics, she became the subject of rumors of steroid use. She denied using steroids and noted that she had passed all drug tests that she had been subjected to. In fact, Prince Alexandre de Merode, the Chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission stated that “We performed all possible and imaginable analyses on her…We never found anything. There should not be the slightest suspicion [on Florence Griffith Joyner].” Griffith-Joyner died in her sleep on September 21, 1998, her death being attributed to suffocation during a severe epileptic seizure A park  near her neighborhood was named in her honor by the City of Mission...

Carter Woodson Born Dec19

Carter Woodson Born

1875 – Carter Woodson born Carter Godwin Woodson was born on this day in 1875. Woodson was a historian who found that there was very little information about the history of his own race. Together with Alexander L. Jackson, he published “The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861” in 1915. He followed this with “A Century of Negro Migration” and then “The Journal of Negro History” in 1916. One of his greatest contributions to society was the creation of Negro History Week in 1926, the forerunner to Black History Month. He is considered by many the father of Black...

Gen Benjamin O. Davis Born Dec18

Gen Benjamin O. Davis Born...

General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Born. 1912 – General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. was born on this day in Washington, DC. Davis was the son of Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., a renowned military officer, the first Black General in the United States Army. Davis, Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming the first Black Air Force General, retiring as a four star General. He was also noteworthy as the Commander of the 99th Pursuit Squadron and then the the 332nd Fighter Group, the famous Tuskegee Airmen. Slavery Abolished in the United States Following the ratification by the requisite three-quarters of the states, the 13th Amendment is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution. Henceforth, this ensured that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their...

O.J. Simpson Sets Rushing Record Dec16

O.J. Simpson Sets Rushing Record...

1973 – O.J. Simpson Sets Rushing Record O.J. Simpson, a running back for the Buffalo Bills set the record for rushing yards in a season with 2,003 yards. He set the record on a snow covered field against the New York Jets, running for 200 yards in the game. Simpson broke the season record of Jim Brown, who ran for 1,863 yards in 1963. Simpson Simpson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. After a careers as a sports broadcaster and actor, he was involved in one of the most controversial trials in American history, acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife and her...

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Premieres...

1967 – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Premieres Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, a groundbreaking movie that focused on the challenges of an interracial romantic relationship opened in theaters on this date in 1967. The film starred industry stalwarts Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and newcomer Katharine Houghton. The filmed premiere just months after the Loving v. Virginia case was decided by the Supreme Court, legalizing interracial marriage in the United States. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles Hit #1 Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, after years of success at Motown, scored their first number one hit with “Tears of a Clown.” Robinson, one of the most prolific songwriters in history had written dozens of number one hits for other artists. He would later becomean executive for Motown. Gale Sayers Scores Six Touchdowns Gale Sayers, a rookie running back for the Chicago Bears set an NFL record, scoring six touchdowns in a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Wrigley Field. He scored on four rushing plays, one reception and one punt...

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