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1777
Massachusetts slaves petition the legislature for their freedom.


1808
Salmon Portland Chase was born on this date. He was an American teacher, abolitionist, lawyer and Judge.

From New Hampshire, his father died when he was 9 years old and his uncle, Philander Chase a Bishop in Ohio raised him. Young Chase graduated from Dartmouth College in 1826, working briefly as a schoolteacher in Washington. In 1830 he moved to Cincinnati and established himself as a lawyer. It was in the Queen City that he became a member of the Anti-Slavery Society. Chase defended so many re-captured slaves and became known as the “attorney general for runaway Negroes.”

He also gave free legal advice for those caught working for the Underground Railroad. Chase was affiliated with Whig and the Liberty Party but in 1848, he and others joined to form the Free-Soil Party. The following year Chase was elected to the United States Senate and played an important role in the campaign against the Kansas-Nebraska Act. In 1855 he was elected as the governor of Ohio. He sought the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1860 but on the third ballot asked his supporters to vote for Abraham Lincoln. As president, Lincoln appointed Chase as Secretary of the Treasury. He helped to establish a national banking system and began the employment of women clerks. Chase was the most progressive member of Lincoln’s Cabinet.

In 1862, Chase and Abraham Lincoln fought over the treatment of General David Hunter. Hunter was enlisting Black soldiers in the occupied districts of South Carolina and had issued a statement that all slaves owned by Confederates in those areas were free. Lincoln was furious and instructed him to break up the 1st South Carolina (African Descent) regiment and withdraw his public statement.

Chase’ main dispute with Lincoln was that the president refused to state that emancipation of the slaves was an object of the war. In Cabinet meetings Chase was the only member to argue for Black suffrage, he resigned 1864. That same year Lincoln appointed him as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. On the Bench, Chase was highly critical of Lincoln’s Reconstruction Plans and even more of Andrew Johnson’s whose Senate impeachment proceedings he presided over.

As Chief Justice, Chase interpreted the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution to help protect the rights of Blacks from infringement by state action. Salmon Chase died on May 7th 1873.



1850
This date marks the birth of Charlotte E. Ray. She was a Black teacher and the first Black female lawyer in the United States.

Born in New York City, her father was a journalist, Congregational minister antislavery activist, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. Ray studied at the Institution for the Education of Colored Youth in Washington, D.C., and by 1869 she was teaching at Howard University. There she studied law and received her degree in 1872. Her admission that year to the District of Columbia bar made her the first woman admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and the first Black woman certified as a lawyer in the United States.

Ray opened a law office in Washington, D.C., but racial prejudices proved too strong, and she could not obtain enough legal business to maintain an active practice. By 1879 she had returned to New York City, where she taught in the public schools. In the late 1880s she married
a man with the surname of Fraim. Little is known of her later life, she died January 4, 1911 in Woodside, N.Y.


1869
The first Black labor convention, the Convention of the Colored National Labor Union, was held in Union League Hall in Washington, D.C. Fredrick Douglass was elected president.


1873
Pinckney Benton Stewart (P.B.S.) Pinchback, the first African American to become governor of a U.S. state, relinquishes the office of governor, saying at the inauguration of the new Louisiana governor: “I now have the honor to formally surrender the office of governor, with the hope that you will administer the government in the interests of all the people [and that] your administration will be as fair toward the class that I represent, as mine has been toward the class represented by you.” Pinchback, a Republican, served as the governor of Louisiana for thirty-five days: from December 9, 1872, to January 13, 1873.


1905
On this date we celebrate the birth of Ivie Anderson. She was an African-American singer.

From Gilroy, California Ivie Marie Anderson was orphaned as a child and was subsequently raised in convents. Ivie began to study voice at a young age. From the age of nine to fifteen she sang in her school’s glee club and choral society. Later, she joined Harlem’s Cotton Club as a chorus girl and sang for a time with Earl Hines. In 1931, Duke Ellington hired her as his first featured singer; she was one of the first female singers to be spotlighted with a band.

Her recorded debut with Ellington was the 1932 hit, It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing). Anderson remained with Ellington longer than any other singer and has the status as his most distinguished vocalist. Extremely beautiful, she was vivacious and sang with a sensitive relaxed rhythm, a smoky tone, near perfect pitch and diction that showed a rare respect for lyrics. Ivie Anderson had a special rapport with her audiences.

She also developed a unique relationship with drummer Sonny Greer; onstage, he would “talk” to her with his drums and she would sing back her answer. Her foremost recordings were Stormy Weather, I’m Satisfied, and Raising the Rent, all in 1933, I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good (1941), and many more. Ivie Anderson retired due to serious asthma problems and died in Los Angeles on September 28, 1949.



1912
On this date, Horace Rains was born. He was an African-American Doctor and activist.

From Atlanta, Georgia he was one of three sons born to Igolias and Elizabeth Rains. The family moved to Columbus, Ohio when young Horace was a baby. It was in Columbus where he attended and completed his education in public schools. Rains attended Wilberforce University on a Track scholarship and received his B.S. degree in 1938. He then taught Physical Education at Lincoln University, Jefferson City Missouri before being drafted into the Army in 1941.

After serving in Europe and the Southwest Pacific during World War II he enrolled at Meharry Medical College in 1949. Rains married Francis McHie, (with whom he eventually had two children). In 1953, he received his M.D. degree beginning an internship at Los Angeles County General Hospital and UCLA. In 1954 entered private Medical and Family Practice in Long Beach, California. It was during these years that as the second Black family in their southern California neighborhood, they experienced constant racism for years.

Vandalism to their property to the point of having to arm himself, he and his wife decided to stay and fight for their rights. Prior to his own business as a physician, Rains was the first African American on staff at St. Mary’s Long Beach Memorial and Long Beach Community Hospitals. He was very active during the Civil Rights movement. Rains was President of the Long Beach NAACP, Chairman of the United Civil Rights Committee and was “Man of the Year” of the Long Beach American Legion in 1965. In 1988, he retired from his practice due to health issues.

He became active in many organizations such as: The Wilberforce Alumni Association, the Belmont Shore Lions Club and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Rains was involved with the Long Beach City Planning Commission and the City of Hope. Horace Rains M.D. died on June 9, 1998 in Long Beach, California.



1913
On this date, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was founded. Twenty-two collegiate women at Howard University created the organization. These students wanted to use their collective strength to promote academic excellence and to provide assistance to persons in need. The first public act performed by the Delta Founders involved their participation in the Women’s Suffrage March in Washington D.C., March 1913. Delta Sigma Theta was incorporated in 1929. The sorority has grown, from the original 22 founders, to over 175,000 members in over 800 chapters in the United States, West Germany, the Caribbean, Liberia, and the Republic of South Korea.


1925
Benjamin Hooks was born on this date.


1953
Don Barksdale becomes the first African American person to play in an NBA All-Star Game.


1966
Dr. Robert Clifton Weaver becomes the first African American appointed to a presidential cabinet position, when President Lyndon B. Johnson names him to head the newly created Department of Housing and Urban Development.


1979
A commemorative stamp of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is issued by the U.S. Postal Service as part of its Black Heritage USA commemorative series. The stamp of the slain civil rights leader is the second in the series.


1979
Singer Donnie Hathaway joins the ancestors after jumping from the 15th floor of New York’s Essex House hotel.


1982
Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.


1983
Citing Muhammad Ali’s deteriorating physical condition, the American Medical Association (AMA) calls for the banning of prizefighting because new evidence suggests that chronic brain damage is prevalent in boxers.


1985
Jerome “Brud” Holland, former President of Hampton University and former Ambassador of Sweden, died on this date. Dr. Holland was the first Black to serve on the New York Stock Exchange Board of Directors.


1987
Even Mecham, then governor of Arizona, rescinded the gubernatorial decree by Gov. Bruce Babbit that established the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday as a state holiday.


1989
Sterling Allen Brown joins the ancestors in Washington, DC. He had devoted his life to the development of an authentic black folk literature. He was one of the first scholars to identify folklore as a vital component of the black aesthetic and to recognize its validity as a form of artistic expression. He worked to legitimatize this genre in several ways. As a critic, he exposed the shortcomings of white literature that stereotyped blacks and demonstrated why black authors are best suited to describe the Black experience. As a poet, he mined the rich vein of black Southern culture, replacing primitive or sentimental caricatures with authentic folk heroes drawn from Afro-American sources. He was associated with Howard University for almost sixty years.


1990
Lawrence Douglas Wilder was inaugurated as the first Black governor in U.S. history on this day in Virginia. Ironically, Wilder, the grandson of slaves, took the oath of office in Richmond, Virginia’s capital and the former capital of the Confederacy. Wilder won the election in Virginia by a mere 7,000 votes in a state once the heart of the Confederacy and had once denied him admission to its all-White schools. Later in the year, he received the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for his lifetime achievements. He served from 1990 to 1994. A native of Richmond, Wilder, in 1951, graduated from Virginia Union University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He later served in the Army during the Korean War and received the Bronze Star for heroism and later attended Howard University where he earned a law degree in 1959. A Democrat, Wilder was elected a state senator in 1969, becoming the first Black to serve in the Virginia Legislature since Reconstruction. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1985 making him the highest ranking Black state official in the nation at that time, serving until he won the governorship. He currently serves as mayor of Richmond.


1997
WWII veteran Vernon Baker is awarded the Medal of Honor at age 77.


1999
Michael Jeffrey Jordan, considered the best player to ever play in the NBA, retires from professional basketball after thirteen seasons. This is the second time ‘His Airness’ has retired.  He leaves the game after leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships and winning five MVP awards. Before rejoining the NBA with the Washington Wizards, he was 3rd all-time in points scored, 29,277, and 3rd in steals, 2,306.


2002
Charity Earley, first black commissioned officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and commander of the only battalion of black women who served overseas during WWII, died on this date.


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