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1804
On this date, “Black Laws or Codes” were enacted in the state of Ohio. The Congress of the Buckeye state became the first legislative body in the country to enact Black Laws, intended to restrict the movements and limit the rights of free Blacks.

Two groups supported the measure: white settlers from Kentucky and Virginia, and a growing group of businessmen who had ties to southern slavery, all of them despised blacks. The legislation forced blacks and mulattoes to furnish certificates of freedom from a court in the United States before they could settle in Ohio. All black residents had to register with the names of their children by June 1st 1805. The registration fee was twelve and a half cents per name.

It became a punishable offense to employ a black person who could not present a certificate of freedom. Anyone harboring or helping fugitive slaves was fined one thousand dollars, with the informer receiving half of the fine. On January 25th 1807 these laws were toughened and succession of Northern states followed Ohio’s example. In fact, the constitutions of Illinois, Indiana, and Oregon initially barred Blacks from settling in those territories. The Black Laws remained in effect until 1849.



1869
Matilda Sissieretta Jones is born in Portsmouth, Virginia. She will become a gifted singer (soprano), who will rise to fame as a soloist and troupe leader during the later part of the nineteenth century. She will be nicknamed “Black Patti”, after a newspaper review mentioned her as an African American equal to the acclaimed Italian soprano Adelina Patti. American racism will prevent her from performing with established white operatic groups. She will tour Europe, South and North America and the West Indies as a soloist. In 1896, she will form her own troupe, “Black Patti’s Troubadours,” which will combine the elements of opera and vaudeville, creating musical comedy. She will join the ancestors on June 24, 1933.


1875
President Ulysses S. Grant strikes a major blow against the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists by sending federal troops to Vicksburg, Miss., to protect Blacks from a terror campaign. Although his presidency is often characterized by a series of corruption scandals, the former general who won the Civil War for President Abraham Lincoln was a true friend of Blacks. In fact, Grant’s campaigns throughout the South virtually destroyed the Klan. The anti-Black terrorist organization was not able to rise again until around 1915.


1897
The birth of Hubert Julian is celebrated on this date. He was an African-American aviation pioneer, and businessman.

From Trinidad, Hubert Fauntleroy Julian came from a well-to-do family who sent him to England for school. The dangers during WW I caused the family to move him to Montreal. Julians first plane ride came in November 1919, with WW I hero Billy Bishop for a ten-minute ride in a Sopwith Camel. Unlike Bessie Coleman, William Powell, and James Herman, Julian had no trouble finding someone to tech him to fly. By 1921 and having moved to New York, he had become a “gentleman flyer,” a man about town, sharp dresser, etc. He was a supporter of Marcus Garvey and in 1922 flew his plane over parades in support of Garvey.

In July, 1924, Julian intended to fly to Africa and become the first person to fly solo across the Atlanic Ocean. He dubbed his airplane Ethiopia I and began to raise money for the trip. This attempt failed with a crash into the water off of Flushing New York, and Julian spent the next month in the hospital recovering from injuries. His 1929 Trans-Atlanic flight, 2 years after that of Charles Lindbergh, was commemorated by Calypso music singer Sam Manning in the record Lieutenant Julian. He became a well known figure in the African-American and Afro-Caribbean community, and was billed as “The Black Lindbergh.”

Julian flew to Ethiopia in 1930, where his flying exploits impressed Emperor Haile Selassie, who awarded Julian Abyssinian citizenship and the rank of Colonel. In 1931 he was the first African-American to fly coast to coast in the United States. Julian was one of several aviators in the 1920s and 1930s who competed with others; briefly holding records for longest non-stop flights. In 1931, for example, Julian held the non-stop non-refueling aviation endurance record with a flight of 84 hours and 33 minutes. Julian flew a number of flights in and between the Americas, Europe, and Africa, surviving several crashes. In between major flights he headed and toured with a small all-black flying circus called The Five Blackbirds.

During the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, Julian flew to Ethiopia to aid in the defense of Selassie’s government. He commanded their Ethiopian air force, which at the time consisted of 3 planes. Yet after getting into a public fist-fight with Black aviator John C. Robinson, he was ordered to leave the country. Beyond aviation, Julian also invented some safety devices used in airplanes. Julian also acted as producer for the 1939 motion picture Lying Lips. After the United States entered World War II, Julian volunteered to train for combat with the Tuskegee Airmen. He was a colorful character who wore a non-regulation Colonel’s uniform, despite not holding rank with the United States Armed Forces, and was discharged before graduation.

In the 1940s Julian lived in Harlem as a local celebrity. Hubert Julian was a staunch promoter of aviation and was one of (some say the first) black to get a pilot’s license in the United States. He was nicknamed “The Black Eagle.” A series of articles entitled “Black Eagle” were published in the New York Amsterdam News newspaper in 1937 and 1938. In 1965 a biography of him entitled Black Eagle was published by The Adventurers Club in London; a (different?) book with the same title by John Peer Nugent was published in 1971.

The November 1974 issue of Jet Magazine said Julian, (then 77 years of age) was making plans to rescue Haile Selassie, then believed to be held prisoner by the new government of Ethiopia. Herbert Julian’s death is not known.



1911
Kappa Alpha Psi was founded on the campus of Indiana University on this date. The Fraternity’s fundamental purpose was (and is) achievement. It was the first African American fraternity to be chartered as a national organization.

Early in the last century, African-American students were actively dissuaded from attending college. Formidable barriers were put up to prevent the few who were enrolled from assimilating into co-curricular campus life. This ostracism characterized Indiana University in 1911, thus triggering
Elder Watson Diggs, Byron Kenneth Armstrong, John M. Lee, Harvey T. Asher, Marcus P. Blakemore, Guy L. Grant, Paul Caine, George Edmonds, Ezera D. Alexander, and Edward G. Irvin to form Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, which remains the only Greek letter organization with its 1st Chapter on the University’s campus.

The founders wanted a formula that would immediately raise the sights of black collegians and stimulate them to accomplishments higher than they might have imagined. Fashioning achievement as its purpose, Kappa Alpha Psi set in motion uniting college men of culture, patriotism and honor in a bond of fraternity.



1926
On this date, Hosea Williams was born. He was an African-American civil rights activist.

Williams was the son of blind African-American parents, from Attapulgus Georgia. After studying at Morris Brown College and Atlanta University, he found employment as a research chemist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1963, he was ejected from the NAACP for being too militant and organized the Savannah, Georgia movement. After his successful leadership in Savannah, he was personally recruited to Executive Staff of SCLC by Martin Luther King, Jr., who referred to him as “my Castro.”

In 1965 he directed SCLC’s Summer Community Organization and Political Education Project (SCOPE) in which SCLC field staff ad student volunteers registered thousands in anticipation of passage of the Voting Rights Bill. (Freedom Summer was not an SCLC project). His arrests were for civil disobedience and civil and human rights protests and demonstrations. With John Lewis, Williams led the Selma to Montgomery protest demonstration on March 7, 1965, which was attacked by mounted police. That day, state troopers used nightsticks and tear gas on marchers and the event became known as Bloody Sunday.

He was elected and served at every level of Representative Georgia state government: Atlanta City Council, Georgia House of Representatives, and Dekalb County Commissioner and controversially endorsed Ronald Reagan for president in 1980. After becoming a member of the Atlanta City Council, he led a “Brotherhood March” in Forsyth County, which resulted in a violent confrontation with the Ku Klux Klan in 1987. The violence of the Klan there and subsequent protest there a week later led by Williams that became the largest civil rights march since the 1960s. Two years later, Williams failed in his bid to be elected mayor of Atlanta.

For a time, his legacy as a civil rights hero seemed endangered by a series of run-ins with the law, most of them involving his erratic driving habits and several arrests on charges of drunken driving. He was never found guilty of any charges of drunk driving and afterwards stayed out of legal trouble. The Rev. Joseph Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who said he did not always see “eye to eye” with him, said Williams in his civil rights days, “could always inspire Blacks and anger Whites,” a man without fear “because he felt he had the armor of God.”

He was a key civil rights leader who marched alongside The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the integration struggle in the 1960s. Hosea Williams died November 16, 2000.



1931
Alvin Ailey was born on this date. He was an African-American dancer and choreographer and founding director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Originally from Rogers, Texas,
at the age of twelve, his family moved to Los Angeles, California. There, on a junior high school class trip to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, he fell in love with concert dance. Ailey enrolled UCLA and became involved with the Lester Horton Dance Theater in 1949. In 1954, he moved to New York City, where he appeared in a number of stage productions gaining fame for the strength and grace of his performances. Four years later, in 1958, Ailey formed his own company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which performed the works of noted choreographers, as well as his own creations, often inspired by African-American heritage. In that light, the dance company has been and still is dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage and the uniqueness of black cultural expression.

In 1969, Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, the official school of the Ailey Company, and he went on to form the Repertory Ensemble, the second company, in 1974. His commitment to education was the foundation of the organization’s long-standing involvement in arts-in-education programs, including AileyCamp.

His works include techniques of modern dance, jazz dance, ballet, and ethnic dance. Many of these are based on African-American spirituals, expressing universal themes of faith and humanity. Ailey choreographed for several companies in addition to his own, including the American Ballet Theatre, Paris Opera Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet. He received the Capezio Award in 1979 for his lifetime contribution to dance.
He died on December 1, 1989 in New York City.


1935
On this date, Earl Battey was born. He was an African-American baseball player and teacher.

From Los Angeles, CA. in 1953, his mother Esther signed a letter of commitment for him to become a free agent with the Chicago White Sox. He played in Chicago for four years before moving on to the Washington Senators; they became to Minnesota Twins in 1961. From 1961 through 1966 the durable Battey played in 805 of the Twins’ first 970 games despite injuries. Besides a persistent bad knee, several dislocated fingers, and a goiter problem (at times he ballooned to 60 pounds over his listed weight) he endured. Battey twice had cheekbones broken by pitched balls and wore a special helmet after 1962.

He was an insightful man off the field, understanding racial segregation in ways years ahead of even today’s views. Battey honored the lingering segregation of the Minnesota Twins in 1962 over separate hotel accommodations for black and White players. That year this still happened at their southern baseball spring training facilities. He was not on the bandwagon of the desegregation efforts of the (then) Minnesota State Commission Against Discrimination (SCAD). When interviewed by them He said that pending integration robbed black businesses (hotels, restaurants, etc.) of income and excluded black kids from access to Twin players who were black. He also noted that most of the white players hung out at the black businesses anyway and thus something valuable in the name of black culture and ownership would be undermined.

Also as a player in Game Three of the 1965 World Series, he ran into a neck-high crossbar in Dodger Stadium while chasing a foul pop. He played the remainder of the series even though he could barely speak or turn his head. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Battey topped all MLB catchers in 1962 with a.280 BA, threw out 24 runners, and picked off 13. He had career highs of 26 homers and 84 RBI in 1963. He was the top vote-getter on the 1965 AL All-Star squad.

After he retired in 1967, his next stop was to give back to the community. He worked in New York City as a recreation specialist with young disturbed boys; a position he held for 12 years. In 1980 Battey fulfilled a promise he made to his mother, enrolling at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach Florida. There he took 34 credits a semester and coached the Wildcats basketball team. By finishing his undergrad studies in two and-half-years, Battey was accorded the distinction of Summa Cum Laude honors.

After graduating from Bethune-Cookman he became a high school teacher and baseball coach in Ocala, Florida. On June 16, 2002 Battey enjoyed his family reunion. This event had over 700 member show-up including his 90 year old mother. Earl Jesse Battey Jr. died of cancer on November 15, 2003.



1938
James Ngugi is born in Kamiriithu, Kenya. He will become a writer whose works will depict events in colonial and post colonial Kenya. He will integrate Marxist-Leninist beliefs into his novels, which will include “Weep Not Child,” “The River Between,” “A Grain of Wheat,” “Petals of Blood,” and “Matigari ma Mjiruumgi.” He will later change his name to Ngugi wa Thiong’o. His writings will cause him to be imprisoned by the Kenyan government and he will later leave the country for England and the United States.


1943
George Washington Carver died on this date after succumbing to anemia at the age of 81 on the campus of the Tuskegee Institute. He was known as the “Wizard of Tuskegee,” the predominantly Black educational institution in Tuskegee, Ala. He was a pioneering plant chemist and agricultural researcher noted for his work with the peanut and soil restoration while at Tuskegee Institute, developing more than 300 products from the peanut as well as the sweet potato. Carver’s research also helped advance farming techniques throughout American agriculture.

In 1935, Carver was specially appointed to the Department of Agriculture by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to address the southern farming crisis. Among other things he advised farmers to use crop rotation. Since peanuts and sweet potato crops have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their roots, these plants restore nitrogen levels in the soil, which helps other plants like cotton to grow better.

Dr. Carver was awarded the Roosevelt Medal in 1939 for saving Southern Agriculture (which was later instrumental in feeding the United States during its involvement in W.W.II). That was also why, upon his death, Dr. Carver’s hometown was made a historic site. President Harry S. Truman signed the Joint Resolution on December 28, 1945, saying, “I do hereby call upon officials of the Government to have the flag at half staff on all government buildings on January 5, 1946 in commemoration of the achievements of George Washington Carver.”

During the 79th Congress, Public Law 290 was passed to designate, beginning January 5, 1946 and each year on his death as George Washington Carver Recognition Day. Carver was honored by many around the world and received numerous awards, but he did not seek those acknowledgements. George loved agriculture and science and his passion was to improve everything he could for the benefit of mankind. That is why George Washington Carver is such a famous inventor.
He was born in 1864.


1946
This date marks the first George Washington Carver Recognition Day under Public Law 290 by the 79th Congress.


1943
William H. Hastie, civilian aide to the Secretary of War, resigns to protest segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces.


1947


Ted Lange is born in Oakland, California. He will become an actor and be best known for his role as ‘Isaac’ on the TV series, “The Love Boat.”


1948
A commemorative stamp of George Washington Carver is issued by the U.S. Postal Service. The posthumous honor bestowed upon the famed agricultural expert and researcher is only one of the many awards he received, including the 1923 Spingarn Medal and membership in the NYU Hall of Fame.


1957
Jackie Robinson announces his retirement from professional baseball.


1971
The Harlem Globetrotters lose 100-99 to the New Jersey Reds, ending their 2,495-game win streak.


1971
Angela Davis, author, activist, and professor, was arraigned on murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy charges in Marion County, CA on this date. Davis was initially alleged to have played a role in a courthouse shooting but was later acquitted.


1975
The Broadway premiere of “The Wiz” opens, receiving enthusiastic reviews. The show, a black version of “The Wizard of Oz” will run for 1,672 shows at the Majestic Theatre. Moviegoers, however, gave a thumb’s down to the cinema version of the play that starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson years later. One memorable song from the show is “Ease on Down the Road.”


1987
David Robinson becomes the first player in Naval Academy history to score more than 2,000 points. This was accomplished when the Midshipmen defeat East Carolina 91-66. He will go on to become a major star of the NBA.


1993
Reggie Jackson is inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame with 94% of the votes.


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