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1788
The Quakers in Pennsylvania emancipate their slaves.


1804
On this date, the Haitian Act of Independence drafted by Boisrond Tonnere was read by Jean-Jacques Dessalines on the Place d’Armes of Gonaives, declaring Haiti (formerly Saint-Domingue) independent from France. Haiti had emerged as the second republic in the Western Hemisphere and the first independent Black-led republic in the modern world. It was named in recognition of the old name of Ayiti of the Taino Arawak people who originally inhabited the island. At the conclusion of Haitian Revolution led by the armies of Dessalines, the only successful slave rebellion in history, in a final and decisive victory over the French forces at the Battle of Vertières on November 18, 1803, that nation declared its independence.

Inspired by the French Revolution, the gens de couleur pressed the colonial government for expanded rights in October 1790, 350 revolted against the government. On May 15, 1791, the French National Assembly granted political rights to all blacks and mulattoes who had been free, but this did not change the status quo regarding slavery.

In August, 1791, the revolution was initiated in a ceremony at the Bois Caiman on a stormy night presided over by Dutty Boukman, a Houngan, and Edaise, an old Manbo, a priest and priestess respectively of Haiti’s African-derived Voodoo religion. According to Haitian legend, during culmination of the ceremony, Boukmand and Edaise ritually sacrificed a pig. Those assembled were required to drink from the foaming blood of the slaughtered animal. They swore to revolt against their white masters, kill them, destroy their possessions, follow Boukman's orders, and fight for freedom or die for it. At the ceremony, Boukman spoke of the will to be free. “Hidden god in a cloud is there, watching us. He sees all the Whites do … [and] our god that is so good orders vengeance; he will assist us. Throw away the thoughts of the white god who thirsts for our tears; listen to the freedom that speaks from our hearts.” He prophesied that Jean François, Biassou, and Jeannot would be leaders of a slave revolt that would free the slaves of Haiti.

On August 22, 1791, slaves in the north rose against their masters near Cap-Française (now Cap-Haitien). This revolution spread rapidly and came under the leadership of Toussaint L’Ouverture. Commonly referred to as the “Black Napoleon,” he soon formed alliances with the gens de couleur and the maroons, whose rights had been revoked by the French government in retaliation for the uprising.

Soon after the revolt began, Boukman was taken and beheaded by French authorities. The French then publicly displayed Boukman’s head in an attempt to dispel the aura of invincibility that Boukman had cultivated. The attempt failed and Boukman was eventually admitted into the pantheon of Ioa (Vodou spirits).

L’Ouverture’s armies fought and defeated the French colonial army, but then joined forces with it in 1794, following a decree by the revolutionary French government that abolished slavery. Under L’Ouverture’s command, the Saint-Domingue army then defeated invading Spanish and British forces. This cooperation between L’Ouverture and French forces ended in 1802; however, when Napoleon sent a new invasion force designed to subdue the colony, many islanders suspected the army would also reimpose slavery. Napoleon’s forces initially were successful at fighting their way onto the island and persuaded L’Ouverture to a truce. He was then betrayed and captured and died in a French prison. L’Ouverture’s arrest and the news that the French had reestablished slavery in Guadeloupe, led to the resumption of the rebellion under the leadership of Dessalines and Henri Christophe, two of L’Ouverture’s generals. Napoleons’s forces were outnumbered by the combination of Dessalines, Christophe, and Alexandre Petion, the “Generals of the Revolution.”

Having shed the burden of slavery and French colonial rule, the revolutionaries of Haiti inspired people of African descent around the world, particularly those who remained in slavery. Many White Haitians fled to the United States.

Western historians have shortchanged Haiti and its importance to the history of the Americas because of the way it came into existence. The Haitian Revolution is seldom remembered or taught at United States universities. Haitian historians, on the other hand, often suppressed elements that were not in accord with the country’s pro-Western privileged in their attempt to achieve respectability in Europe and North America. Both positions have had a lasting impact in how Haiti is viewed in modern times.

As a special note, the late Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard, III (1933–2007), the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University, postulated in a 13 part series televised in the late 1980s entitled “Free Your Mind, Return to the Source: African Origins" and hosted by Listervelt Middleton, that because of Napoleon’s defeat in Haiti, in his conquest of Egypt in 1798 (to which he met defeat), he had his troops to shoot the broad noses and lips off many Egyptian artifact, most particularly the Sphinx, because they reminded him of the people who had defeated him in Haiti.


1808
This is one of the most momentous days in Black history. It was on this day that the international slave trade was abolished in the United States. This stopped the legal importation of African slaves, but did not stop domestic trading of slaves. Despite the abolition, the slave trade actually continued for decades. For example, the last slave ship illegally arrived in the United States in 1859 shortly before the start of the Civil War. It should be noted that slavery itself was not abolished. Instead, it was the importation of Blacks from Africa that was abolished.


1808
African Benevolent Society (Education) is founded.


1831
It was on the first day in Boston that William Lloyd Garrison published the Liberator newspaper, the official periodical of the anti-slavery movement.

This weekly newspaper ran for 35 years (until December 29, 1865). It was the most influential antislavery publication in the pre-Civil War period of U. S. history. Although The Liberator, available in Boston, could claim a paid circulation of only 3,000, it reached a much wider readership with its uncompromising advocacy of immediate emancipation for the millions of Black Americans enslaved throughout the South. “The success of any great moral enterprise,” Garrison once wrote, “does not depend upon numbers.”

His message of morality challenged moderate reformers to apply the principles of the Declaration of Independence to all people, regardless of color. Nervous slaveholders in the South, assuming that The Liberator represented the majority opinion of Northerners, reacted militantly by defending slavery and by legislating ever more stringent measures to suppress all possible opposition to its “peculiar institution.”

The Liberator further altered the course of the American antislavery movement by insisting that abolition, rather than African colonization, was the answer to the problem of slavery.



1842
Samuel David Ferguson was born on this date. He was a Black priest and bishop.

From Charleston, South Carolina, he immigrated with his parents to Liberia, Africa, at the age of six. Ferguson received his education in the mission schools under Bishop Payne and became a teacher in 1862. He was ordained deacon on December 28th 1865, and became a priest on March 15th 1868. During his deaconate he served as assistant minister in St. Mark’s parish and became rector of the same parish. He was president of their standing committee for several years, and also business agent of the mission, and superintendent of the Cape Palmas female orphan asylum and girls’ school.

Having been elected missionary bishop for West Africa in 1885, he came to the United States, and was consecrated in Grace Church, New York City in June 1885. Soon afterward he returned to Cape Palmas, Liberia and founded Cuttington College. Ferguson was the first Black member of the House of Bishops where he served until his death, August 2, 1916.



1856
Bridget “Biddy” Mason and her children are granted their freedom by the California courts.After gaining her freedom, she will move to Los Angeles, where she will become a major landowner and be known for her philanthropy to the poor.


1860
The Black Code in Arkansas. A law went into effect in Arkansas which prohibited the employment of free blacks on boats and ships navigating the rivers of that state.


1863
On this date, President Abraham Lincoln issued the second executive order of the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “free forever the slaves in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia” with exception of thirteen parishes in Louisiana, including New Orleans, forty-eight countries in West Virginia, seven countries (including Norfolk) in Eastern Virginia. Proclamation did not apply to slaves in Border States.

The proclamation was of tremendous symbolic importance but of only minor practical significance. First, it freed the slaves in the rebellious states of the South. But since the Union troops did not yet control the South, no slaves went free. The union had nominal control over the Border States. But the emancipation did not apply to the Border States. About the only slaves who gained their legal freedom as a result of the Emancipation were those who had already escaped from the South and were helping or fighting in the Union army.

This document marked a radical exodus in then American policy, reflecting the public sentiment in the north. About 3,120,000 Black African people gained freedom by the terms of the Proclamation, which is regarded as one of the most important documents of the United States. After the Civil War started, the slavery issue was heightened by the escape to Union lines of large numbers of slaves who volunteered to fight for their freedom and that of their fellow slaves.

In these circumstances, a strict application of established policy would have required return of fugitive slaves to their Confederate masters and would have alienated the staunchest supporters of the Union cause in the North and abroad. Abolitionists had long been urging Lincoln to free all slaves, and public opinion seemed to support this view. He moved slowly and cautiously nonetheless; on March 13, 1862, the federal government forbade all Union army officers to return fugitive slaves, thus annulling in effect the fugitive slave laws. On April 10, on Lincoln’s initiative, Congress declared the federal government would compensate slave owners who freed their slaves.

All slaves in the District of Columbia were freed in this way on April 16, 1862. On June 19, 1862, Congress endorsed a measure prohibiting slavery in United States territories, thus defying the Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case, which ruled that Congress was powerless to regulate slavery in the territories. Finally, after the Union victory in the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation on September 22, declaring his intention of circulating another proclamation in 100 days, freeing the slaves in the states deemed in rebellion at that time. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

With the passing of the 13th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution in effect in 1865, slavery was completely abolished. The results of the Emancipation Proclamation were far-reaching, Lincolns Party (Republican) became unified in principle and in organization, and the prestige it attained enabled it to hold power until 1884.



1900
The British protectorates of Northern & Southern Nigeria are established.


1912
Second annual report of the NAACP listed total receipts from May through December, 1911 of $10,317.43. Organization had local chapters in Chicago, Boston and New York.


1914
Dr. Muriel Marjorie Petioni was born on this date. She is an African-American doctor and activist and community server.

From Trinidad, Port of Spain, she is the daughter of Rose Alling, a department store clerk and Charles Augustin Petioni, a newspaper reporter. Her family migrated to New York City when Muriel was five years old. Her father became a prominent Harlem physician, activist and nationalist of Caribbean independence. Young Petioni attended public schools 68, 136, and Wadleigh H. S. After two years at New York University, she received her Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University in 1934. She continued her education at Howard and graduated from Howard University School of Medicine in 1937. After a two-year internship at Harlem Hospital from 1937-1939, she embarked upon an illustrious career as a trailblazer for African-American women and medicine.

For forty years, she maintained a private practice that predominantly served poor and disadvantaged patients. Over twenty-five years ago, she founded the Susan Smith McKinney Steward Medical Society, a Black women’s physician’s association. Later she established the Medical Women of the National Medical Association, which is now called the Council for the Consensus of Women. Because she always understood the importance of Black professionals serving as role models, for nearly twenty-five years she worked diligently with the Coalition of 100 Black Women to develop a mentoring program for young women interested in the sciences and medicine.

Dr. Petioni’s professional affiliations, honors, and achievements are numerous, and exemplify her commitment and devotion to community medicine on the highest levels. She is Chair and President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Harlem Hospital, an organization that raises funds for a number of activities and causes. She also holds Board memberships on the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Columbia School of Social Work, American Cancer Society (New York and Harlem Branches), Schomburg Corporation, Harlem Health Promotion Center, Greater Harlem Nursing Home, Sister to Sister (a Cancer Support Group for Women), Harlem Council of Elders, and Handmaids of Mary.

Petioni is also a member of the New York Chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women. She embodies the philosophy that medicine should be a form of community service. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated an extraordinary and indefatigable commitment to women’s issues, community medicine, social justice, and health care for the under-served.



1915
John Henrik Clarke was born on New Years Day. He was an African-American historian, writer, and educator.

From Union Springs, Alabama, his family came from a long line of sharecroppers, moving to Columbus, Georgia when he was four years old. A young Clarke taught the junior Bible class at a local Baptist church. He noticed that although many bible stories “unfolded in Africa...I saw no African people in the printed and illustrated Sunday school lessons.”

Clarke started research that took him to libraries, museums, attics, archives and collections in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and Africa. He gathered his findings into books on such figures as the early 20th century mass movement leader Marcus Garvey, into articles with titles like “Africa in the Conquest of Spain,” “Harlem as Mecca and New Jerusalem,” and many books including American Heritage’s two volume “History of Africa.” He brought his findings to life in discussions to Black audiences hungry for a history so long lost, stolen or strayed. While he was teaching at Hunter College in New York and at Cornell University in the 1980s, Clarke’s lesson plans became well known for their attention to detail. They are so packed with references and details that the Schomburg Library in Harlem asked for copies.

In 1985, the year of his retirement, the newest branch of the Cornell University Library- a 60 seat, 9,000-volume facility- was named the “John Henrik Clarke Africana Library.” Clarke once wrote, “History is not everything but it is the starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are, but more importantly, what they must be.” Dr. John Henrik Clarke died, July 16, 1998, in New York City. Though he was totally blind towards the end, he still managed to lecture and write books.



1916
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History,” published the first issue of Journal of Negro History.


1916
Fritz Pollard, Brown University’s All-American halfback, became the first Black to play in the annual Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, CA. Brown was defeated 14–0 by Washington State University in the second game of the classic series.


1917
Ulysses Simpson Kay is born in Tucson, Arizona. He will become a classical composer and one of the first American composers to travel to the Soviet Union. He will be known for his works for orchestra, piano, and chamber ensemble.


1923
Milt Jackson was born on this date. He was an African-American jazz musician, the first and most influential vibes player of the modern jazz era.

From Detroit, Jackson began playing vibes or vibraphone professionally at age 16. He attended Michigan State University and joined Dizzy Gillespie’s sextet in 1945; he then worked with Gillespie’s big band and later returned to play vibes and piano in Gillespie’s sextet from 1950 to 1952. During this time, he freelanced with leading bop musicians in New York City and played in the Woody Herman band.

Also called “BAGS,” Jackson was a cofounder of the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ), which was his principal performance mouthpiece from 1952 to 1974. Meanwhile, he also recorded often as sideman, including classic sessions with Thelonious Monk Evidence, Criss Cross, and Miles Davis Bags’ Groove; and as leader, including sets with top tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, and Lucky Thompson.

Jackson’s fluent playing had an undeniable swing is heard in long lines of eighth and sixteenth notes; he created an original style out of bebop’s advanced harmonies and irregular beats. His sensitivity to balance and contrast made much of his playing with the MJQ gentle when compared with his aggressive work in his own groups. Milt Jackson died in 1999.



1937
Lou Stovall was born on this date. He is an African-American Artist and Printmaker.

From Athens, Georgia, he grew up in and attended Technical High School, Springfield, Massachusetts. Stovall initially studied Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, and Howard University where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Since 1962, he has lived and worked in Washington, D.C. His drawings and silkscreen prints have brought him grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Stern Family Fund. Under his direction, Workshop, Inc. has grown from a small but active studio primarily focused with community posters into a professional printmaking facility.

Stovall is a master printmaker but his passion is drawing. His own prints and drawings are part of numerous public and private collections throughout the world, including the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum, Springfield, Massachusetts. His recognition as a master in this field has gained him commissions to print works of such noted artists as Josef Albers, Peter Blume, Alexander Calder, Elizabeth Catlett, Gene Davis, David Driskell, Sam Gilliam, Lois Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Mangold, Mathieu Mategot, A. Brockie Stevenson and James L. Wells.

Through his “Workshop, Inc.”, founded in 1968, he has made a unique effort to build a community of artists in Washington, D.C. and to encourage, by his own example, service in the community. Among his special commissions he designed the Independence Day invitation for the White House in 1982 at the request of Mrs. Ronald Reagan. In 1986, at the request of Mayor Marion Barry, he made the print American Beauty Rose for the Washington, D.C. Area Host Committee 1988 Democratic National Convention. In 1996 he designed and made the print Breathing Hope to Honor, Howard University’s incoming president H. Patrick Swygert.



1948
Federal Judge John Paul of Roanoke, VA, ruled that segregation of Negroes on public carriers was a matter for the carriers to decide.


1948
Wally Tripplett and Dennie Hoggard of Penn State University saw action against Southern Methodist University in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. They were the first Blacks ever to play in the annual New Year’s Day classic.


1956
The Republic of Sudan became an autonomous republic with the French Community on this date. Egypt and the United Kingdom immediately recognized the new nation at that time.

Sudan became a member of the Arab League on January 19 and of the United Nations on November 12. The first general parliamentary elections after Sudan attained independence were held on February 27, 1958. The Umma Party won a majority and formed a new government on March 20. Lieutenant General Ibrahim Abboud, the commander in chief of the armed forces, overthrew it on November 17. In 1969 a group of radical army officers, led by Colonel Gaafar Muhammad al-Nimeiry, seized power and set up a government under a revolutionary council. Political tension continued and several coups were attempted.

President Nimeiry won reelection to a third term in April 1983. In September he issued a blanket pardon for some 13,000 prisoners and announced a revision of the penal code to accord with Islamic law (Sharia). Martial law was imposed in April 1984 in the wake of rising tensions with Libya, protests over food price increases. Opposition in the predominantly non-Muslim south Sudan to Islamization remained in force until late September. Renewed unrest led in April 1985 to Nimeiry’s expulsion in a bloodless military coup.

After a year of military rule, Sadiq al-Mahdi, the great grandson of Muhammad Ahmad, was elected prime minister in the first free election in 18 years. Voting was postponed in 37 southern constituencies, however, due to a guerrilla war against the Muslim Arab government led by southern rebels known as the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). In mid-1998 peace talks, the SPLA and the government tentatively agreed to accept an internationally supervised vote on self-determination in the south. However, no date was set for the vote, and the talks failed to produce a cease-fire.



1960
Cameroon gains its independence from France.


1964
The Federation of Rhodesia & Nyasaland is dissolved.


1973
The West African Economic Community is formed with Benin, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Upper Volta as members.


1986
Aruba becomes an independent part of Kingdom of the Netherlands.


1990
David Dinkins is sworn in as first African American mayor of New York City.


1997
The former prison for Nelson Mandela and many other South Africans is turned in to a museum at Robben Island.


1997
Kofi Annan or the West African nation of Ghana became the first Black Secretary General of the United Nations, making him a major force in international politics.


2005
Shirley Chisholm, an advocate for minority rights who became the first African American woman elected to Congress and later the first African American to seek a major party’s nomination for the U.S. presidency, joins the ancestors at the age of 80. The Rev. Jesse Jackson calls her a “woman of great courage.”


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