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Members of the Free Black Commission of Philadelphia petitions Congress to abolish slavery. This petition was rejected.

The first National Negro Catholic Congress is held on this day in Washington, D.C.

John Brown, a white abolitionist and martyr of the Harper’s Ferry Insurrection, was hanged at Charlestown, VA on this date.

The Mississippi legislature meets and elects John Roy Lynch as the Speaker of the House at the age of twenty-four. In 1884, Lynch is elected temporary Chairman of the Republican National Convention, the first Black to lead in the deliberations of a national party.

Granville T. Woods, inventor, patented the telephone transmitter, his second invention, on this date.

On this date, we recall the birth of Oscar Micheaux. He was an African-American novelist, businessman and pioneer filmmaker, and was best known for his dramatic movies about African-American life.

From near Murphysboro, Illinois, Micheaux traveled to Chicago at 17, where he worked as a shoeshine boy and Pullman porter. In 1904, he bought a homestead in South Dakota where the frontier environment gave him a generous amount of material for several of his most important books and movies. Micheaux’s first creative work was the 1913 novel, The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer. Micheaux’s first film The Homesteader in 1919 came from his second novel and was a product of his business, The Micheaux Book and Film Company. He went on to produce, write, and direct more than 30 films over the next three decades. Eventually, branch offices of his company opened in New York and Chicago.

The first African-American feature length movie with sound, The Exile was a 1931 Micheaux creation. The budgets for Micheaux’s many films came from the director’s own entrepreneurial efforts. He personally transported prints from town to town, sometimes for a single showing, and edited his movies on the road. His works portrayed the struggles of individual characters against prejudice within the black community as well as in opposition to racism. Micheaux returned to writing novels in the last decade of his life. A retelling of his pioneer memories appeared in 1944 film, The Wind from Nowhere. Oscar Micheaux died in 1951.

Charles Harris Wesley, minister and the first President of Central State University, was born on this date. This prominent historian succeeded Carter G. Woodson as head of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

On this date, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander was born. She was an African-American lawyer and activist.

She was a pioneer among Black women in United States law and education, and a committed civil rights activist. From Philadelphia she came from an accomplished family and was educated in that city and Washington D.C. Alexander graduated from M Street high school (now Dunbar high school) in Washington D.C., she entered the University of Pennsylvania’s school of Education in 1915. Graduating in 1918, she helped found the gamma Chapter of the Delta Theta Sorority.

She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics by 1921 and was one of the first African-Americans to receive a doctorate in economics.
She was also the first woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she was the first president of the predominantly Black Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

While an actuary for the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., she married Raymond Pace Alexander. Together they worked tirelessly in numerous Philadelphia-area civil rights cases. In 1943, she became the first woman to be elected secretary (or hold any office) in the National Bar Association, a position she held for four years.

Alexander used her training to become active in the Civil Rights Movement. President Truman appointed her to his commission on civil rights in 1946. In 1948, Alexander helped prepare the report “To Secure These Rights”, a document that was influential in the foundation of the civil rights policy in the years that followed.

She joined the law firm of Atkinson, Myers, Archie & Wallace as counsel in 1976. Sadie Alexander died in her hometown on
November, 1989.

President Theodore Roosevelt shuts down the U.S. Post Office in Indianola, Mississippi for refusing to accept its appointed postmistress because she is an African American.

Elmer Simms Campbell was born on this date. He was the first African-American cartoonist to publish his work in general-circulation magazines on a regular basis.

From St. Louis, Missouri, Campbell won a nationwide contest in cartooning while still attending high school. He later studied at the University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. He then worked as a railroad dining-car waiter, amusing himself by drawing caricatures of the passengers, one of whom was impressed with his work and gave him a job in a commercial-art studio in St. Louis.

Campbell later moved to New York City, where while working for an advertising agency he gradually infused himself as a regular contributor to various humor magazines. In 1933, the magazine Esquire was established, and Campbell became its foremost cartoonist, with as many as a dozen drawings in an issue.
His cartoons appeared in every issue of Esquire Magazine 1933–58 and almost every issue until his death in 1971. His work was also published in Ebony, Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker, and Playboy.

Although he is best known for his representations of voluptuous women, frequently in a harem setting,
Campbell also illustrated children’s books and wrote articles on American Jazz. He died January 27, 1971 in White Plains, New York.

On this date, we mark the birth of St. Clair Drake born. He was an African-American anthropologist and educator from Suffolk, Virginia.

After graduating from Hampton Institute, he worked for the Society of Friends at a number of schools and movements in the south. St. Clair Drake then got involved in an anthropological study and later published his findings as Deep South. The potential that social science research had to effect racial change was heartfelt in St. Clair Drake. He enrolled at the University of Chicago and worked with eminent sociologist W. Lloyd Warner and others focusing on black Chicago until 1945, resulting with the publication of the classic Black Metropolis.

Drake was one of the first black faculty members at Roosevelt University, where he taught for twenty-three years, leaving in 1973 to chair the African-American studies program at Stanford. His book Black Diaspora was published in 1972. St. Clair Drake died in 1990.

Juanita Jackson Mitchell was born on this date. She was an African-American lawyer, administrator and activist.

From Hot Springs, Arkansas, Juanita Elizabeth Jackson was the daughter of Kieffer Albert Jackson and Dr. Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson. She was the second born of four children. Her siblings were Virginia, the oldest, Marion, and Bowen Kieffer She attended Frederick Douglass High School; Morgan State College; The University of Pennsylvania where she attained a B. S. in education, cum laude, 1931, and M. A. in sociology, 1935; University of Maryland School of Law, LL. B., 1950.

In her earlier years, she traveled extensively throughout the U. S. for the Bureau of Negro Work and the Methodist church, speaking and teaching courses in race relations. From 1935 to 1938, she was special assistant to Walter White, NAACP Executive Secretary, serving as National Youth Director. There she organized and developed programs for the organization’s Youth and College Division. On September 7, 1938 she married Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. at Sharp Street Memorial Methodist Church. They had four sons Clarence Mitchell III, Michael Bowen, Keiffer Jackson, and George Davis.

When the University of Maryland was finally required to open its law school to Blacks in the 1940s, Mitchell was among the first to attend and was the first black woman to practice law in the State of Maryland in 1950. The NAACP needed her skills and she devoted her legal talents as its Legal Redress Chairman. As counsel for the NAACP, she fought segregation in the courts. They included the suit to desegregate the Fort Smallwood Municipal Park Beach and the swimming pools in Baltimore; Restaurant desegregation cases; “Veney Raid” cases enjoining the Baltimore City Police Commission from conducting mass searches of private homes without warrants and others. “Mobilization! Legislation! Litigation! Education! The Ballot!” was words conveyed by Juanita Jackson Mitchell as the key ingredients to empowerment for black Americans.

From her days as a high school student, until rendered physically immobile by a stroke in the late 80s, Mitchell pushed those themes. Throughout the turbulent years of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and into the 80s, she manned the barricades, sometimes at the side of her sainted mother and with her husband. Later, she could be found leading her sons along the freedom trail. In 1985 she was elected to the first Baltimore City Hall of Fame for Women by the Baltimore City Commission for Women and given the Everett J. Waring Honor by the Law Society of Howard County.

In 1987 she joined her mother Dr. Lillie Carroll Jackson with her induction into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. The Maryland Women’s Bar Association with their first and only honorary membership honored her in 1990 and in 1991 the Monumental City Bar Association created the Juanita Jackson Mitchell Scholarship Fund. Juanita Jackson Mitchell died in Baltimore of a heart attack and stroke in July 1992.

On this date, African-American John Hope Franklin was born. He is an African- American educator.

Franklin was a native of Rentlesville, Oklahoma (population 255) where his father was the Postmaster and also practiced law and his mother a school teacher. His mother had high expectations of him and spurred him to graduate as class valedictorian at the age of 16. He was a graduate of Fisk University and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Harvard University. He has taught at a number of institutions, including Fisk University, St. Augustine’s College, North Carolina Central University, and Howard University. Professor Franklin’s numerous publications. His best-known book is From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, now in its seventh edition.

In 1993, he published The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-first Century. Professor Franklin wrote a biography of his father that he edited with his son, John Whittington Franklin. In 1995, he received the first W.E.B. Du Bois Award from the Fisk University Alumni Association and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than one hundred colleges and universities.

Currently, Professor Franklin serves as chairman of the advisory board for One America: The President’s Initiative on Race. He is a past president of the American Historical Association and Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University. He was most famous for his book, “From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans,” which sold over two million copies.
In 1995, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.


Charles C. Diggs, Jr., Michigan’s first Black Congressman, was born on this date. Diggs, a UN delegate during the Nixon Administration, helped organize the National Black Political Convention and the Congressional Black Caucus.

Arthur Prysock was born on this date. He was an African-American singer.

From Spartanburg, South Carolina He moved to Hartford, Connecticut to work in the aircraft industry in the early forties and while singing with a local band was spotted in 1944 by band leader Buddy Johnson who signed him as male vocalist. Despite his relative lack of record success, he was a mainstay of the cabaret and concert-hall circuits. Prysock sang on several of Johnson’s hits first on Decca (‘Jet My Love’, 1947 and ‘I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone’, 1948) and Mercury (‘Because’, 1950).

In 1952, Prysock went solo and signed with Decca. He had an immediate R&B hit, ‘I Didn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night’ (1952), but, his popularity as a live performer with black audiences notwithstanding, he was essentially a band and ballad not an R&B singer. Nonetheless, he recorded R&B classics like Roy Brown’s ‘Good Rocking Tonight’. In the sixties, Prysock joined Old Time records, where he had an R&B hit with a fine version of Ray Noble’s thirties ballad, ‘The Very Thought of You’ (1960) and a pop hit with ‘It’s Too Late Baby, It’s Too Late’ (1965) and Verve (‘A Working Man’s Prayer’, 1968).

In the seventies, in the wake of successful reissues of his recordings, he had a surprise disco hit with ‘When Love Is New’ (Old Time, 1977) and in 1985, recorded his first new album, Arthur Prysock (Milestone) in almost a decade to critical and commercial approval. Heavily influenced by Billy Eckstine, Prysock’s rich baritone enabled him to sustain his career over five decades. Arthur Prysock died on June 7, 1997.

Calvin Hill is born in the Turner Station neighborhood in Dundalk, Maryland. He will be a running back with a 12 year National Football League career from 1969 to 1981. He played for the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns. He will be named to the Pro Bowl team 4 times (1969, 1972, 1973 and 1974). He will be the father of NBA star Grant Hill.

Atlanta University President, Dr. Rufus Clement, was elected to the Atlanta Board of Education on this date.

Television talk-show diva and billionaire Oprah Winfrey was born on this day in Kosciusko, Miss. She also went on to become an actress and movie producer.

Sugar Ray Robinson is defeated by Gene Fullmer for the world middleweight boxing title.

Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “That’s The Way Love Is” is released by Duke Records.

The Selma, Alabama voter registration drive begins, led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a major effort to get African American voters registered to vote in Alabama.

Leontyne Price, Metropolitan Opera star, received the 50th NAACP Spingarn Medal on this date for her outstanding achievement as a soprano singer and for her continued crusade for equality and justice for all people.

On this date, Cuba Gooding Jr. was born. He is an African-American actor.

From the South Bronx, N. Y. Gooding is the son of Cuba Gooding Sr. the lead singer for The Main Ingredient and Shirley Gooding a former backup singer with Jackie Wilson’s touring act, the Sweethearts, in the ‘60s. He has a younger brother, Omar who also is an actor. Gooding Jr. began as acting in a high school performance of Lil Abner. His professional beginnings of his extensive career on the small and large screen began in 1986. This was a guest appearance in “Amen.”

He also made appearances in “MacGyver,” 1989-91, and “Murder Without Motive: The Edmund Perry Story,” 1992. Other TV Movies were “Daybreak,” 1993; and “The Tuskegee Airmen,” 1995.

Feature films for Gooding include an ever growing list which began with: “Coming to America,” 1988; “Sing,” 1989; “Boyz N the Hood,” 1991; “A Few Good Men,” 1992; “Gladiator,” 1992, “Hitz,” 1992; “Judgment Night,” 1993; “Lightning Jack,” 1994; “Losing Isaiah,” 1995; “Outbreak,” 1995; “Jerry Maguire,” 1996; “The Audition,” 1996; “As Good As It Gets,” 1997; “Do Me a Favor,” 1997; “What Dreams May Come,” 1998; “Welcome to Hollywood,” 1998; “A Murder of Crows,” 1999 “Chill Factor,” 1999; “Instinct,” 1999; “Men of Honor,” 2000; “Pearl Harbor,” 2001; “Rat Race,” 2001; “Snow Dogs,” 2002; Radio 2003. Also Gooding Jr. has starred in “Home on the Range,” 2004; “Dirty Salim,” 2005; “Shadowboxer,” 2006; “End Game,” 2006; “What Love Is,” 2006; “Norbit,” 2007.

Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for Best supporting actor for 1996’s “Jerry Maguire.” Two years earlier he married Sara Kapfer, a school teacher; they have three children.


Dr. Clifton Reginald Wharton, Jr. becomes the 14th president of Michigan State University and first president of that university and the first African American president of a major American university in the twentieth century.

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays is named the first African American president of the Atlanta, Georgia Board of Education.

Erroll Garner, pianist and composer, joins the ancestors in Los Angeles, California. He was considered the best-selling jazz pianist in the world, most fam ous for the jazz standard “Misty.”

Ellis Wilson joins the ancestors. An artist known for his striking paintings of African Americans, his work had been exhibited at the New York World’s Fair of 1939, the Harmon Foundation, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Among his best-known works are “Funeral Procession,” “Field Workers,” and “To Market.”

Larry Williams, rhythm and blues singer best known for “Bony Maronie”), joins the ancestors. He is found dead with a gunshot wound to the head at the age of 45.

David Lynch, singer with The Platters, joins the ancestors at the age of 76.

W. Wilson Goode, the son of a sharecropper, is sworn in as the first African American mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The first and only Black mayor of America’s largest city, New York City, David Norman Dinkins, officially began his term on this day with a 7:00 am appearance on NBC-TV’s Today show. On his road to the mayor’s office, he defeated Edward Koch in the September Democratic primaries and, then, by a small margin, beat Republican Rudolph Guiliani in general election.

Sharon Pratt Dixon is sworn in as mayor of Washington, DC, becoming the first African American woman to head a city of Washington’s size and prominence.

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