Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee
was founded on this date.
American prohibitionist Clinton Bowen
Fisk, the American Missionary Association of New York and the
Western Freedman’s Aid Commission of Cincinnati as the Fisk School
for Freedmen, established the school. Fisk awards bachelors and master’s
degrees in a wide range of fields. A joint degree in engineering is offered in
cooperation with other Universities, including Vanderbilt,
Florida A&M, and the University
of Alabama in Huntsville.
The Cravath Memorial Library houses a collection of murals by 20th-century
African-American painter Aaron Douglas, and the university library houses a
special collection on Black culture. Fisk also houses the Stieglitz Art
Collection, donated to the university by painter Georgia O’Keefe, and a
collection of the works of composer W.C. Handy. Other research facilities at
the university include the Fisk Race Relations Institute, the Fisk National
Aeronautics and Space Administration Center
for Photonic Materials and Devices, and the Howard Hughes
Notable alumni from Fisk
historian W.E.B. Du Bois, poet Nikki Giovanni, United States Secretary of
Energy Hazel O’Leary, and David Levering Lewis, the Pulitzer Prize winner for
biography in 1994.
Rust College is established in
Mississippi. Lincoln University
is established in Jefferson City,
On this date, Thomas Elkins patented an
improved chamber commode (toilet).
Elkins’ commode was a combination bureau, mirror, book-rack, washstand, table,
easy chair, and chamber stool. It was a very unusual piece of furniture. Patent
One of the 19th
century’s greatest Black artists, Edward Mitchell Bannister joined the ancestors in Providence, Rhode
Island. Challenged to become an artist after reading
a newspaper article deriding African Americans’ ability to produce art, he
disproved that statement throughout a distinguished art career. Bannister was
originally from Canada but
moved to Boston
in 1848. There he married a wealthy woman and was able to pursue art. He was
best known for painting rural landscapes and so-called genre scenes.
One of the
greatest writers in the history of Black America, poet and author, Paul Laurence Dunbar, joined the ancestors after
succumbing to tuberculosis. Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio
in 1872 to two former slaves. He was a classmate of the Wright Brothers who
designed and flew America’s
first aircraft. In fact, the Wright Brothers would later aid Dunbar
financially. Dunbar was so talented and
versatile that he succeeded in two worlds. He was a truly prolific writer of
short stories, novels, plays, songs and poetry. He was so adept at writing
verse in Black English that he became known as the “poet of his people,” while
also cultivating a white audience that appreciated the brilliance and value of
his work. “Majors and Minors” (1895), Dunbar’s
second collection of verse, was a remarkable work containing some of his best
poems in both Black and Standard English.
When the country’s reigning literary critic, William Dean Howells
reviewed “Majors and Minors” favorably, Dunbar
became famous. And Howells’ introduction in “Lyric of Lowly Life” (1896) helped
make Dunbar the most popular African American writer in America at the
Kenneth Spearman Clark was born on this date. He was an
African-American jazz drummer and bandleader.
From Pittsburgh, PA., he was from a musical family. He
studied piano, trombone, drums, vibraphone, and music theory in public schools.
From 1929 to 1933, he had his first professional experience as a drummer with
Leroy Bradley’s Band, and later with Roy Eldridge. In 1934, he left Pittsburgh for short stint in St.
Louis and eventually moving to New York. There he joined the Edgar Hayes
Orchestra and in 1937, he made his first European tour and recording debut.
While abroad he met and played with a number of musicians, one of which was
Dizzy Gillespie. Clark and Gillespie developed the fundamental rhythmic and
melodic concepts of bebop. The main difference in the rhythm’s pulse being
heard on the cymbals and the drums provided the accents and punctuation. This
freed the drums from their traditional role of a time-keeping instrument. His
irregular beats became known as dropping bombs and klook-mops, and Clarks
nickname became klook.
As a composer, Clark was responsible for collaborating on two enduring jazz
standards, Salt Peanuts and Epistrophy (a.k.a.) Fly Right. In 1943, Clark was
drafted into the Army, serving in Europe until 1946. For the next ten years he
toured and recorded extensively with Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis
and others. In 1952, Clark co-founded the Modern Jazz Quartet while continuing
to lead smaller groups, Bohemia After
Dark, 1955 and Klook’s Clique,
1956. At this time he settled in Paris and until 1962 he formed a group called
the Three Bosses which included expatriate Bud Powell and Oscar Pettiford.
From 1960 to 1973, he joined Belgian pianist Francy Boland to create the Francy
Boland Big Band. Kenny Clark died on January 26, 1985 in Paris.
date, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. was
Langston Taylor, Charles I. Brown, and Leonard F. Morse chartered
it on the campus of Howard University. The Frat’s motto is: Culture for Service
and Service for Humanity.
Phi Beta Sigma is constitutionally bound to Zeta Phi Beta sorority.
On this date, Earl Gilbert Graves was born. He is an African-American
businessman, entrepreneur, activist, and one of the strongest advocates for African
Graves is from Brooklyn, New York; his parents were Earl Godwin Graves and
Winifred Sealy Graves, long-time West Indian residents of the
Bedford-Stuyvesant area. His father was a role model and mentor; whose economic
circumstances reduced his own plans for the future. The elder Graves was the
only Black in his graduating class at Erasmus High school, the second oldest
school in America and young Graves would be one of only two Blacks when he
graduated years later.
After high school where he was a track star and used his athletic skills to
help with tuition by also working as a lifeguard while attending Morgan State
University as a scholarship student. While there he also operated several
campus businesses and joined various campus organizations. Graves graduated in
1958 with a B.A. degree in economics and, as a ROTC member. He was commissioned
a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, completed the Airborne Ranger’s School
and was a captain with the Green Berets. In 1962 he worked as a narcotics agent
with the U.S. Treasury Department.
Graves sold and developed real estate and in 1966 he was hired as an
administrative assistant on the staff of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. His job was
to plan and supervise events. As traumatic as Kennedy’s death was in 1968, it
also meant that Graves no longer had a job. After a short period of grieving,
restlessness, and reflection, he formed Earl G. Graves Associates, a
management-consulting firm to advise corporations on urban affairs and economic
He also wanted to contribute to the economic development of Black America. The
momentum for addressing this need was Grave’s journey to Fayette, Mississippi,
to work on the mayoral campaign for Charles Evers, brother of slain NAACP
leader Medgar Evers. After Evers was elected as the city’s first Black mayor in
1969, he used his money and influences to improve the lot of the town’s Black
community. Graves then planned a strategy to tap into the Nixon Administration’s
effort to bring Black Americans into the country’s economic development
programs. Graves knew that the time was right to plan, develop, and produce a
monthly periodical devoted to news, commentary, and articles for Blacks
interested in business.
After receiving a Ford Foundation grant to study Black-owned business in
Caribbean countries, he narrowed his focus and borrowed $150,000 from the
Manhattan Capital Corporation of Chase Manhattan Bank, which, in turn, bought
25 percent of the company as equity. In 1970, as become president and chief
executive officer of Earl G. Graves, Ltd., Graves presented the prospective
lenders with a working draft of Black
Enterprise. He is a true entrepreneur, businessman, and corporate executive
whose lifestyle is now equal with his stellar achievements.
Graves is the author of How to Succeed in
Business Without Being White: Straight Talk on Making It in America, 1997.
He remains one of the most influential Black business leaders in the country.
On this date we
recall the birth of Leon Forest. He was an
African-American author of large, inventive novels that blend myth, history, legend,
and contemporary realism.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Forrest attended the University of Chicago and
served in the U.S. Army before beginning his career as a writer. From 1965 to
1973 Forrest worked as a journalist for various papers, including the Nation of
Islam’s weekly Muhammad Speaks. Influenced by author’s William Faulkner and
Ralph Ellison, Forest taught English and African-American studies at
Northwestern University. He also published excerpts from his first novel. There
is a Tree More Ancient than Eden, which was issued in book form in 1973.
This portrays the tangled relationships between the illegitimate offspring of a
onetime slave-owning family; several of the book’s characters reappear in
subsequent novels by Forrest. There are traces of Greek and Latin mythology
present in The Bloodworth Orphans 1977, a story about the search by three
orphaned siblings for roots and understanding in the middle of turmoil. In Two
Wings to Veil My Face 1983 an ex-slave tells her life story to her
great-grandson, in the narrative changing his life. Forrest’s ambitious novel,
Divine Days 1992, was set in Chicago in 1966 and deals with the
African-American playwright to investigate the disappearance of a fellow Black
A book of collected essays, Relocations of the Spirit, was published in 1994.
Leon Forest died in 1997 in Evanston, Illinois.
Joe Louis knocks out Buddy Baer in the first
round in the 20th title defense of his world heavyweight title in
New York City.
contributor to the Harlem Renaissance, lyric poet, Countee Cullen joined the ancestors in New York
City at the age of 42. His several volumes of poetry include “Color” (1925); “Copper
Sun” (1927); “The Black Christ” (1929); and “On These I Stand” (published
posthumously, 1947), his selection of poems by which he wished to be
remembered. Cullen also wrote a novel
dealing with life in Harlem, “One Way to Heaven” (1931), and a children’s book,
“The Lost Zoo” (1940). Cullen was a French teacher at a Harlem public high
school at the time of his death.
The University of
Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson scores 56 points against
Seton Hall University, whose team total is 54 points.
Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues is born in Baltimore, Maryland. He
will become a high school standout at Paul Lawrence Dunbar High, on same team
that produced first round draft picks Reggie Williams and the late Reggie Lewis
along with former Hornets teammate David Wingate. He will play college
basketball at Wake Forest (where his jersey #14 will be retired) and become a
NBA guard with the Charlotte Hornets and Golden State Warriors. All these
accomplishments and only five feet three inches tall.
The Georgia legislature, bowing to legal decisions and
national pressure, seats state Representative Julian Bond, a critic of the Vietnam War.
Chairman of the House Education and Welfare Committee, Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., was ousted from his position after
he was charged with wrongfully appropriating congressional funds on this date.
Powell accused his critics of racism.
After 140 years of
unofficial racial discrimination, the Mormon Church issues an official statement
declaring that blacks were not yet to receive the priesthood “for reasons which
we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.”
Lester B. Granger, a former
National Urban League Director, died in Alexandria, LA on this date.
Alvin Ailey, talented dancer,
choreographer, and artistic director, received the 61st NAACP
Spingarn Medal on this date for the development of his world-class dance
company and for using quality and virility to establish world preeminence.
Time, Inc. agrees to sell NYT Cable for $420 million
to Comcast Corporation, Lenfest Communications, and an investment group led by
African American entrepreneur J. Bruce Llewellyn. It is the largest cable TV
acquisition by an African American.