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1866
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 Science Learning Center.

Notable alumni from Fisk University include 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.



1866
Rust College is established in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Lincoln University is established in Jefferson City, Missouri.


1872
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 #122,518.


1901
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.


1906
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 time.


1914
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.



1914
On this date, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. was founded.

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.



1935
On this date, Earl Gilbert Graves was born. He is an African-American businessman, entrepreneur, activist, and one of the strongest advocates for African American business.

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 development.

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.



1937
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 man.


A book of collected essays, Relocations of the Spirit, was published in 1994. Leon Forest died in 1997 in Evanston, Illinois.


1942
Joe Louis knocks out Buddy Baer in the first round in the 20th title defense of his world heavyweight title in New York City.


1946
A major 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.


1958
The University of Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson scores 56 points against Seton Hall University, whose team total is 54 points.


1965
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.


1967
The Georgia legislature, bowing to legal decisions and national pressure, seats state Representative Julian Bond, a critic of the Vietnam War.


1967
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.


1970
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.”


1976
Lester B. Granger, a former National Urban League Director, died in Alexandria, LA on this date.


1977
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.


1989
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.


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