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1800
On this date, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, frontier trader, fur trapper, farmer, businessman, and the founder of the settlement that would grow to become the city of Chicago, sold his property for $1,200 and left the settlement. The Haitian-born frontier trader and businessman would die almost penniless 18 years later in St. Charles, MO.


1845
On this date, Mary Mahoney was born. She was an African-American nurse, the first Black woman to hold that position in the United States.

Born in the Dorchester section of Boston, she was the oldest of three children. At eighteen, she began working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children as a cook and cleaning woman. Mahoney was always interested in becoming a nurse and in 1878, at the age of 33, she was accepted as a student nurse in the hospital. It was a rigorous program and on August 1, 1879, Mary was one of only four to graduate out of forty-two entries.

After registration with the Nurses’ Directory at the Massachusetts Medical Library and plenty of positive referrals from clients and patients, Mahoney’s reputation for proficiency grew. Her alma mater took note of her success and began admitting other Negro women despite the vicious racism at nursing schools in America. By 1899, her school had produced and graduated five other African-American nurses.

Black nurses were not given the same opportunities as White nurses so Mahoney became involved in the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908. Never married, she treated her patients like family, often cooking for those in her care. In 1911, Mahoney moved to New York for a year, heading the Howard Orphan Asylum for Black children in Kings Park, Long Island.

In her post-retirement years, she supported the women’s suffrage movement and in 1921, became one of the first women in Boston to vote. Mary E. Mahoney died on January 4, 1926.



1867
African American demonstrators stage a ride-in to protest segregation on New Orleans streetcars. Similar demonstrations occur in Mobile, Alabama, and other cities.


1875
The founding of the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (A&M) is celebrated on this date.

Alabama A&M University is one of over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America. Alabama A&M of Huntsville is a land-grant university supported by state and federal funds. Its first president, Dr. William Hooper Councill, an ex-slave, established this university. The Huntsville Normal School opened on this date in 1875 with an appropriation of $1,000 per year and an enrollment of 61 pupils and two teachers.

Industrial education was introduced about 1878, with such success that the State Legislature authorized a name change to the “State Normal Industrial School of Huntsville. In 1891, the school received a Federal Land Grant Fund and its name was then changed to The State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes. In 1919, the institution became a junior college. In 1939, the institution was permitted to offer work on the senior college level.

The first class since 1920 received bachelors’ degrees in Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College. A&M received a “Class A” rating by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in August 1946, and became a fully accredited member of the Association in December of 1963.

On June 26, 1969, the Alabama State Board of Education adopted a resolution changing the name of the institution to Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.



1878
Black inventor, Joseph R. Winters, receives a patent for his design of the fire escape ladder. Patent #203,517.


1884
Henrietta Vinton Davis performs scenes from Shakespeare with Powhatan Beaty at Ford’s Opera House in Washington, DC, site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Vinton’s career will span a total of 44 years and will include her involvement with Marcus Garvey’s UNIA, including a vice-presidency of Garvey’s Black Star Line.


1885
Dr. John E. W. Thompson, a graduate of the Yale University Medical School, is named minister to Haiti.


1899
The birth of Ellis Wilson, an African American artist, is celebrated on this date.

He was born in a segregated neighborhood known as “The Bottom” in Mayfield, KY., one of six children of Frank and Minnie Wilson. His father, a barber, was also an amateur painter. Wilson said that he got his artistic talent from his father and the desire for an education from his mother. The family cherished two paintings in particular of the elder Wilson’s. “If they would be around today, they would be considered primitives,” the younger Wilson said. His father gave up painting after he married—it was a luxury he could not afford as he tried to support a growing family.

While still very young, Wilson started taking odd jobs to help out with the family, in Mayfield. He once drew a portrait in cleaning soap on the store’s window, which attracted the attention of passersby. The delighted store owner encouraged him to make weekly drawings. Wilson’s formal education began in The Bottom at the Mayfield Colored Grade School. He attended the all-black Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute in Frankfort (which has since evolved into Kentucky State University) for two years, but could study only agriculture and education. Ellis wanted to study art, so, at 19, he left Kentucky for Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute.

He won national acclaim in the art world during the 1930s and 1940s. Wilson painted through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in New York in the 1930s and won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1944. In the 1950s, he traveled to Haiti.

His major exhibitions include a Retrospective Exhibition at Fisk University, Nashville, 1971. His work can be found in the collections of many museums, including the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art, and his painting “Funeral Procession” received national exposure on the set of Bill Cosby’s 1980s television show. Yet Kentucky-born artist Ellis Wilson remains relatively unknown in his hometown of Mayfield and in his home state. Ellis Wilson died in 1977.



1931
Literary critic and editor Darwin Turner is born in Cincinnati, Ohio. His major works will include “Black American Literature: Essays, Poetry Fiction and Drama” (1969) and “Voices from the Black Experience: African and Afro-American Literature” (1972).


1939
Jimmy Ruffin is born in Colinsville, Mississippi. The older brother of the Temptations’ lead singer David Ruffin, he will become a singer on the Motown label and will best known for the hit “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.”  He will also record “Hold on to My Love,” “There Will Never be Another You,” and “I’ll Say Forever My Love.”


1941
Natural Man,” a play by Theodore Browne, premieres in New York City. It is a production of the American Negro Theatre, founded by Abram Hill and Frederick O’Neal.


1943
The Liberty Ship, George Washington Carver, was launched on this date.


1945
Baseball owner Branch Rickey announces the organization of the United States Negro Baseball League, consisting of six teams.


1946
William Henry Hastie is inaugurated as the first African American governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.


1946
Woodrow “Woody” Strode became the second Black professional football player when he signed with the Los Angeles Rams on this date.


1946
Emma Clarissa Clement becomes the first Black woman named “American Mother of the Year” by the Golden Rule Foundation.


1959
93,103 fans pack the Los Angeles Coliseum for an exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees. It is “Roy Campanella Night.” The star catcher for the Dodgers, paralyzed in an automobile accident, is honored for his contributions to the team for many years.  “Campie” will continue to serve in various capacities with the Dodger organization for many years.


1971
Fannie Lou Hamer addresses the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Institute in New York describing the achievements of her “Freedom Farm”.


2000
On this date, the first Black jockey in 79 years rode in the Kentucky Derby.

Marlon St. Julien was the first Black jockey since 1921 to ride in the world’s most famous horse race. St. Julien rode Curule, a 50-to-1 long shot who earned a spot in the 19-horse field when another horse, Harlan Traveler, pulled out.

Curule is owned by Godolphin Racing, which represents two sheiks who are members of Dubai’s ruling family. St. Julien finished 7th in the 2000 Kentucky Derby.


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