Members of the Free
Black Commission of Philadelphia petitions
Congress to abolish slavery. This petition was rejected.
National Negro Catholic Congress is held on
this day in Washington, D.C.
John Brown, a white
abolitionist and martyr of the Harper’s Ferry Insurrection, was hanged at Charlestown, VA
on this date.
The Mississippi legislature meets and elects John
Roy Lynch as the Speaker of the House at the age of
twenty-four. In 1884, Lynch is elected temporary Chairman of the Republican
National Convention, the first Black to lead in the deliberations of a national
Granville T. Woods, inventor, patented the telephone transmitter, his second invention, on this date.
this date, we recall the birth of Oscar Micheaux. He was an
African-American novelist, businessman and pioneer filmmaker, and was best
known for his dramatic movies about African-American life.
From near Murphysboro, Illinois,
Micheaux traveled to Chicago at 17, where he
worked as a shoeshine boy and Pullman porter.
In 1904, he bought a homestead in South
Dakota where the frontier environment gave him a
generous amount of material for several of his most important books and movies.
Micheaux’s first creative work was the 1913 novel, The Conquest: The Story of a
Negro Pioneer. Micheaux’s first film The Homesteader in 1919 came from his second
novel and was a product of his business, The Micheaux Book and Film Company. He
went on to produce, write, and direct more than 30 films over the next three
decades. Eventually, branch offices of his company opened in New
York and Chicago.
The first African-American feature length movie with sound, The Exile was a
1931 Micheaux creation. The budgets for Micheaux’s many films came from the
director’s own entrepreneurial efforts. He personally transported prints from
town to town, sometimes for a single showing, and edited his movies on the
road. His works portrayed the struggles of individual characters against
prejudice within the black community as well as in opposition to racism.
Micheaux returned to writing novels in the last decade of his life. A retelling
of his pioneer memories appeared in 1944 film, The Wind from Nowhere. Oscar
Micheaux died in 1951.
Charles Harris Wesley, minister and the first President of Central State University, was
born on this date. This prominent historian succeeded Carter G. Woodson as head
of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.
this date, Sadie Tanner
Mossell Alexander was born. She was an African-American lawyer and
She was a pioneer among Black women in United States law and education,
and a committed civil rights activist. From Philadelphia
she came from an accomplished family and was educated in that city and
Washington D.C. Alexander graduated from M Street high school (now Dunbar high
school) in Washington D.C.,
she entered the University of Pennsylvania’s school of Education
in 1915. Graduating in 1918, she helped found the gamma Chapter of the Delta
She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics by 1921 and was one of the first
African-Americans to receive a doctorate in economics. She was also the first woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she was the
first president of the predominantly Black Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
an actuary for the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., she married
Raymond Pace Alexander. Together they worked tirelessly in numerous
Philadelphia-area civil rights cases. In 1943, she became the first woman to be
elected secretary (or hold any office) in the National Bar Association, a position
she held for four years.
Alexander used her training to become active in the Civil Rights
Movement. President Truman appointed her to his commission on civil
rights in 1946. In 1948, Alexander helped prepare the report “To Secure These
Rights”, a document that was influential in the foundation of the civil rights
policy in the years that followed.
She joined the law firm of Atkinson, Myers, Archie & Wallace as counsel in
1976. Sadie Alexander died in her hometown on November, 1989.
Theodore Roosevelt shuts down the U.S. Post Office in Indianola, Mississippi for refusing to accept its appointed postmistress because she is an
Elmer Simms Campbell was born on this date. He was the first African-American cartoonist to
publish his work in general-circulation magazines on a regular basis.
From St. Louis, Missouri,
Campbell won a
nationwide contest in cartooning while still attending high school. He later
studied at the University
of Chicago and the Art
Institute of Chicago. He then worked as a railroad dining-car waiter, amusing
himself by drawing caricatures of the passengers, one of whom was impressed
with his work and gave him a job in a commercial-art studio in St. Louis.
Campbell later moved to New York City, where while working for an
advertising agency he gradually infused himself as a regular contributor to
various humor magazines. In 1933, the magazine Esquire was established, and Campbell became its
foremost cartoonist, with as many as a dozen drawings in an issue. His cartoons
appeared in every issue of Esquire Magazine 1933–58 and almost every issue
until his death in 1971. His work was also published in Ebony,
Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker, and Playboy.
Although he is best known for his representations of voluptuous women,
frequently in a harem setting, Campbell
also illustrated children’s books and wrote articles on American Jazz. He died January 27,
1971 in White Plains, New York.
this date, we mark the birth of St. Clair Drake born. He
was an African-American anthropologist and educator from Suffolk, Virginia.
After graduating from Hampton Institute, he worked for the Society of Friends
at a number of schools and movements in the south. St. Clair Drake then got
involved in an anthropological study and later published his findings as Deep
South. The potential that social science research had to effect racial change
was heartfelt in St. Clair Drake. He enrolled at the University of Chicago and
worked with eminent sociologist W. Lloyd Warner and others focusing on black
Chicago until 1945, resulting with the publication of the classic Black
Drake was one of the first black faculty members at Roosevelt University, where
he taught for twenty-three years, leaving in 1973 to chair the African-American
studies program at Stanford. His book Black Diaspora was published in 1972. St.
Clair Drake died in 1990.
Mitchell was born on this date. She was an
African-American lawyer, administrator and activist.
From Hot Springs, Arkansas, Juanita Elizabeth Jackson was the daughter of
Kieffer Albert Jackson and Dr. Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson. She was the second
born of four children. Her siblings were Virginia, the oldest, Marion, and
Bowen Kieffer She attended Frederick Douglass High School; Morgan State
College; The University of Pennsylvania where she attained a B. S. in
education, cum laude, 1931, and M. A. in sociology, 1935; University of
Maryland School of Law, LL. B., 1950.
In her earlier years, she traveled extensively throughout the U. S. for the
Bureau of Negro Work and the Methodist church, speaking and teaching courses in
race relations. From 1935 to 1938, she was special assistant to Walter White,
NAACP Executive Secretary, serving as National Youth Director. There she
organized and developed programs for the organization’s Youth and College
Division. On September 7, 1938 she married Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. at Sharp
Street Memorial Methodist Church. They had four sons Clarence Mitchell III,
Michael Bowen, Keiffer Jackson, and George Davis.
When the University of Maryland was finally required to open its law school to
Blacks in the 1940s, Mitchell was among the first to attend and was the first
black woman to practice law in the State of Maryland in 1950. The NAACP needed
her skills and she devoted her legal talents as its Legal Redress Chairman. As
counsel for the NAACP, she fought segregation in the courts. They included the
suit to desegregate the Fort Smallwood Municipal Park Beach and the swimming
pools in Baltimore; Restaurant desegregation cases; “Veney Raid” cases
enjoining the Baltimore City Police Commission from conducting mass searches of
private homes without warrants and others. “Mobilization! Legislation!
Litigation! Education! The Ballot!” was words conveyed by Juanita Jackson
Mitchell as the key ingredients to empowerment for black Americans.
From her days as a high school student, until rendered physically immobile by a
stroke in the late 80s, Mitchell pushed those themes. Throughout the turbulent
years of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and into the 80s, she manned the barricades,
sometimes at the side of her sainted mother and with her husband. Later, she
could be found leading her sons along the freedom trail. In 1985 she was
elected to the first Baltimore City Hall of Fame for Women by the Baltimore
City Commission for Women and given the Everett J. Waring Honor by the Law
Society of Howard County.
In 1987 she joined her mother Dr. Lillie Carroll Jackson with her induction
into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. The Maryland Women’s Bar Association
with their first and only honorary membership honored her in 1990 and in 1991
the Monumental City Bar Association created the Juanita Jackson Mitchell
Scholarship Fund. Juanita Jackson Mitchell died in Baltimore of a heart attack
and stroke in July 1992.
On this date, African-American John Hope Franklin was born.
He is an African- American educator.
Franklin was a native of Rentlesville, Oklahoma (population 255) where his
father was the Postmaster and also practiced law and his mother a school
teacher. His mother had high expectations of him and spurred him to graduate as
class valedictorian at the age of 16. He was a graduate of Fisk University and
received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Harvard University. He has
taught at a number of institutions, including Fisk University, St. Augustine’s
College, North Carolina Central University, and Howard University. Professor
Franklin’s numerous publications. His best-known book is From Slavery to
Freedom: A History of African-Americans, now in its seventh edition.
In 1993, he published The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-first Century.
Professor Franklin wrote a biography of his father that he edited with his son,
John Whittington Franklin. In 1995, he received the first W.E.B. Du Bois Award
from the Fisk University Alumni Association and the Presidential Medal of
Freedom. Dr. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than one hundred
colleges and universities.
Currently, Professor Franklin serves as chairman of the advisory board for One
America: The President’s Initiative on Race. He is a past president of the
American Historical Association and Professor Emeritus of History at Duke
University. He was most famous for his book, “From Slavery to Freedom: A
History of Negro Americans,” which sold over two million copies. In
1995, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest
Charles C. Diggs, Jr., Michigan’s first Black Congressman, was born on this date. Diggs, a
UN delegate during the Nixon Administration, helped organize the National Black
Political Convention and the Congressional Black Caucus.
Arthur Prysock was born on
this date. He was an African-American singer.
From Spartanburg, South Carolina He moved to Hartford, Connecticut to work in
the aircraft industry in the early forties and while singing with a local band
was spotted in 1944 by band leader Buddy Johnson who signed him as male
vocalist. Despite his relative lack of record success, he was a mainstay of the
cabaret and concert-hall circuits. Prysock sang on several of Johnson’s hits
first on Decca (‘Jet My Love’, 1947 and ‘I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone’,
1948) and Mercury (‘Because’, 1950).
In 1952, Prysock went solo and signed with Decca. He had an immediate R&B
hit, ‘I Didn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night’ (1952), but, his popularity as a live
performer with black audiences notwithstanding, he was essentially a band and
ballad not an R&B singer. Nonetheless, he recorded R&B classics like
Roy Brown’s ‘Good Rocking Tonight’. In the sixties, Prysock joined Old Time
records, where he had an R&B hit with a fine version of Ray Noble’s
thirties ballad, ‘The Very Thought of You’ (1960) and a pop hit with ‘It’s Too
Late Baby, It’s Too Late’ (1965) and Verve (‘A Working Man’s Prayer’, 1968).
In the seventies, in the wake of successful reissues of his recordings, he had
a surprise disco hit with ‘When Love Is New’ (Old Time, 1977) and in 1985,
recorded his first new album, Arthur Prysock (Milestone) in almost a decade to
critical and commercial approval. Heavily influenced by Billy Eckstine,
Prysock’s rich baritone enabled him to sustain his career over five decades.
Arthur Prysock died on June 7, 1997.
Calvin Hill is born in the Turner Station neighborhood in Dundalk, Maryland. He
will be a running back with a 12 year National Football League career from 1969
to 1981. He played for the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Cleveland
Browns. He will be named to the Pro Bowl team 4 times (1969, 1972, 1973 and
1974). He will be the father of NBA star Grant Hill.
University President, Dr.
Rufus Clement, was elected to the Atlanta Board of
Education on this date.
Television talk-show diva and billionaire Oprah Winfrey was born on this day in Kosciusko, Miss. She also went on to become an
actress and movie producer.
Robinson is defeated by Gene Fullmer for the world middleweight boxing title.
Bland’s “That’s The Way Love Is” is released by Duke Records.
Alabama voter registration drive begins, led
by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a major effort to get African
American voters registered to vote in Alabama.
Metropolitan Opera star, received the 50th NAACP Spingarn Medal on this date for her outstanding achievement as a
soprano singer and for her continued crusade for equality and justice for
this date, Cuba Gooding Jr. was born.
He is an African-American actor.
From the South Bronx, N. Y. Gooding is the son of Cuba Gooding Sr. the lead
singer for The Main Ingredient and Shirley Gooding a former backup singer with
Jackie Wilson’s touring act, the Sweethearts, in the ‘60s. He has a younger
brother, Omar who also is an actor. Gooding Jr. began as acting in a high
school performance of Lil Abner. His professional beginnings of his
extensive career on the small and large screen began in 1986. This was a guest
appearance in “Amen.”
He also made appearances in “MacGyver,” 1989-91, and “Murder Without Motive:
The Edmund Perry Story,” 1992. Other TV Movies were “Daybreak,” 1993; and “The
Tuskegee Airmen,” 1995.
Feature films for Gooding include an ever growing list which began with:
“Coming to America,” 1988; “Sing,” 1989; “Boyz N the Hood,” 1991; “A Few Good
Men,” 1992; “Gladiator,” 1992, “Hitz,” 1992; “Judgment Night,” 1993; “Lightning
Jack,” 1994; “Losing Isaiah,” 1995; “Outbreak,” 1995; “Jerry Maguire,” 1996;
“The Audition,” 1996; “As Good As It Gets,” 1997; “Do Me a Favor,” 1997; “What
Dreams May Come,” 1998; “Welcome to Hollywood,” 1998; “A Murder of Crows,” 1999
“Chill Factor,” 1999; “Instinct,” 1999; “Men of Honor,” 2000; “Pearl Harbor,”
2001; “Rat Race,” 2001; “Snow Dogs,” 2002; Radio 2003. Also Gooding Jr. has
starred in “Home on the Range,” 2004; “Dirty Salim,” 2005; “Shadowboxer,” 2006;
“End Game,” 2006; “What Love Is,” 2006; “Norbit,” 2007.
Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for Best supporting actor for 1996’s “Jerry Maguire.”
Two years earlier he married Sara Kapfer, a school teacher; they have three
Reginald Wharton, Jr. becomes the 14th
president of Michigan
and first president of that university and the first African American president
of a major American university in the twentieth century.
Dr. Benjamin E.
Mays is named the first African American
president of the Atlanta, Georgia Board of Education.
Erroll Garner, pianist and composer, joins the ancestors in Los Angeles, California.
He was considered the best-selling jazz pianist in the world, most fam ous for
the jazz standard “Misty.”
Ellis Wilson joins the ancestors. An artist known for his striking paintings of
African Americans, his work had been exhibited at the New York World’s Fair of 1939, the Harmon
Foundation, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Among his best-known works are “Funeral
Procession,” “Field Workers,” and “To Market.”
Larry Williams, rhythm and blues singer best known for “Bony Maronie”), joins the
ancestors. He is found dead with a gunshot wound to the head at the age of 45.
David Lynch, singer with The Platters, joins the ancestors at the age of 76.
W. Wilson Goode, the son of a sharecropper, is sworn in as the first African American
mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The first and only Black mayor of America’s
largest city, New York City,
Dinkins, officially began his term on this day with a 7:00 am appearance on NBC-TV’s
Today show. On his road to the mayor’s office, he defeated Edward Koch
in the September Democratic primaries and, then, by a small margin, beat
Republican Rudolph Guiliani in general election.
Dixon is sworn in as mayor of Washington,
DC, becoming the first African American woman
to head a city of Washington’s
size and prominence.