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Prince Hall, founder of the first African American Masonic lodge and one of the nation’s most influential Blacks during the 1700s, and others petitioned the Massachusetts legislative for funds to return to Africa. The plan is the first recorded effort by African Americans to return to their homeland. Although Hall had become a reasonably wealthy free Black man, the petition also reflected his growing frustration with the slow progress of Blacks in America.

Benjamin Lundy was born on this date. He was an American abolitionist and news publisher.

From Sussex County, New Jersey he was raised a Quaker. Lundy was working as a saddle maker in Wheeling, Vermont, when he first became troubled about the morality of the slave trade. In 1815 he created the Union Humane Society. In 1821, he began publishing the anti-slavery newspaper, Genius of Universal Emancipation. In 1829, Lundy brought on William Lloyd Garrison as co-editor before he moved to Boston and began the Liberator.

In 1835, Lundy created another newspaper in Pennsylvania, The National Enquirer. Other ways his abolition took roots were havens for freedom. He traveled extensively searching for suitable places where runaway slaves could settle. In 1839 Benjamin Lundy moved to Illinois, restoring his first newspaper, which he published until his death on August 22, 1839.

A major insurrection of slaves on Trinidad occurs.

The Weekly Advocate, the second major Black newspaper, was established in New York by Samuel Ennalls and Philip A. Bell.

Selena Sloan Butler was born on this date. She was an African-American educator and community leader.

From Thomasville, Georgia, she spent her childhood years with her mother and older sister. Her father offered support but did not reside with the family. After receiving an elementary education from missionaries, she enrolled in Spelman Seminary (now Spelman College). After receiving her diploma in 1888, she taught English and elocution in Georgia and Florida. In 1893 she married Henry Rutherford Butler. They moved to Massachusetts the following year, and she studied at the Emerson School of Oratory while he pursued medical studies at Harvard.

He later set up practice in Atlanta and became a partner in Georgia’s first African American-owned drugstore. Butler’s interest in education intensified following the birth of her son (Henry Jr.) in 1899. Her community lacked a kindergarten for African American children, so she created one in her living room. During her son’s enrollment at a local public school, she formed the nation’s first African American parent-teacher association. Its success led her to create the statewide Georgia Colored Parent-Teacher Association in 1920 and the National Colored Congress of Parents and Teachers (NCCPT) in 1926.

The national group worked closely with its white counterpart, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers (commonly called the National PTA). When the two groups merged in 1970, Butler along with Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst were recognized as one of the founders of the National PTA. In 1929 (then) President Herbert Hoover appointed Butler to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection. She also was involved with the National Association of Colored Women, the Georgia Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, the Georgia Commission on Interracial Cooperation, and several other social organizations. Following her husband’s death in 1931, Butler moved to England with her son and worked with the Nursery School Association.

They later lived in Arizona, where she organized a Grey Lady Corps at the hospital in which Henry Jr. practiced until he married and moved to California. After a few years living in Atlanta, she joined her son and his wife in Los Angeles. She died of congestive heart failure in October 1964. The Atlanta school where she developed the first African American parent-teacher association was renamed in honor of her husband, and the adjacent park was renamed in her honor. Slena Sloan Butler’s portrait hangs in Georgia’s State Capitol.

Jefferson G. Ish, Jr., educator and insurance executive, was born in Little Rock, AR. Ish was president of the Arkansas State Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff (1915-21). At the time of his death, he was vice-chairman of the board of Supreme Life Insurance Co.

Cyril Lional Robert James was born on this date. He was a black activist, writer, publisher, Marxist social critic, and activist who deeply influenced the intellectual underpinnings of West Indian and African movements for independence.

The son of a schoolteacher from colonial Tunapuna, Trinidad, he was influenced by his mother who was an avid reader. James was a gifted child who, at the age of six or nine, won a scholarship to Queens Royal College, in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He graduated in 1918. After college, James worked as a school teacher and as a cricket reporter. During this time he also wrote two novels, La Divina Pastora (1927) and Triumph (1929). With an interest in politics, he wrote a biography of the Trinidadian labor leader, Arthur Cipriani. This book, Life of Captain Cipriani was published in 1929.

In 1932, he immigrated to England where he reported cricket matches for the Manchester Guardian. Politically, James was a strong supporter of West Indian independence. To this, he applied Leon Trotsky’s views about a worldwide workers’ revolution. The result, in part, was The Life of Captain Cipriani: An Account of British Government in the West Indies (1932), in which he called for Caribbean independence. A pamphlet that he wrote, The Case for West Indian Self-Government, was published in 1933. James moved to London and, during this period, he became involved in socialist politics, gravitating toward a faction of anti-Stalinist Marxists where he studied Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Leon Trotsky. He initially joined the Independent Labor Party (ILP) and became chairman of its Finchley branch. He also wrote for left-wing journals such as the New Leader and Controversy. When James became a Marxist, he left the ILP and formed the Revolutionary Socialist League. As a follower of Trotsky, James was highly critical of the government of Joseph Stalin and the British Communist Party. In 1936 James published Minty Alley. The novel was based on his childhood in Trinidad. He also wrote a play about Toussaint L’ouverture, the leader of the Haitian revolution and, in 1936, Paul Robeson played the leading role at its production at the Westminster Theatre.

James published several books on politics including Abyssinia and the Imperialists (1936), World Revolution 1917-1936 (1937). This historical account was highly critical of Stalin’s 1924 pronouncement, “Socialism in One Country” and provided support for the ideas of Leon Trotsky. His study of the Haitian revolution, The Black Jacobins, was published in 1938. James moved to the America in 1938. There he lectured on political issues and continued to publish books about politics including Dialectical Materialism and the Fate of Humanity (1947), Notes on Dialectics (1948), The Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem in the USA (1948), State Capitalism and World Revolution (1950), and The Class Struggle (1950).

James also wrote at length about the work of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville. While in America, his Marxist writings of James upset Joseph McCarthy and fellow right-wingers and he was eventually deported. James lived for a while in Africa, but, in 1958, returned to the West Indies. Influenced by the events of the Hungarian Up-Rising in 1956, his book Facing Reality (1958) revealed disillusionment with both Communism and Trotskyism. Soon after, he worked on a biography of George Padmore and parts of the book appeared in The Nation Journal. He influenced Padmore, pan-Africanist, and African leader Kwame Nkrumah. In 1963, James published Beyond a Boundary. This was a combination autobiography and an analysis of sport and politics. Other books by James include Radical America (1970), Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution (1977), and three volumes of his collected works appeared as The Future in the Present (1977), Spheres of Existence (1980), and At the Rendezvous of Victory (1984). Over time, he played a major intellectual role in the Black Power movement of the 1960s. For a time in the 1970s he taught at Federal City College in Washington, D.C.

Cyril Lional Robert James moved back to London where he died in May 31, 1989.

William Claytor was born on this date. He was an African-American mathematician and educator.

Born in Norfolk, Virginia William Waldron Schiefflin Claytor earned his A.B. and M.A. from Howard University. He went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1933. Claytor was a brilliant student. While at Penn, he won a Harrison Scholarship in Mathematics in his second year, and took the most prestigious award offered at Penn at that time, a Harrison Fellowship in Mathematics, in his third and final year of graduate studies. Claytor’s dissertation delighted the Penn faculty, for it provided a significant advance in the theory of Peano continua — a branch of point-set topology. He was the third African American to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics.

In 1937, he was awarded a Rosenwald Fellowship and pursued post-doctoral studies at the University of Michigan where Claytor had great promise as a researcher in mathematics. However, when a position opened U. Michigan would not offer it to him; the student newspaper took up the issue with no change. Around this time, R. L. Moore was one of the dominant figures of Mathematics in the U.S. Even as late as the 1960s and 70s he was such a racist he even prohibited Blacks from attending his classes.

In the 1930s and 1940s the math was filled with racist mathematicians. Moore’s field of Mathematics was Topology, as was Claytor’s. Dr. Claytor did make presentations at meetings of the American Mathematical Society, yet was never allowed to stay in the hotel where the meetings were held. Instead local Blacks had to find him lodging. For years afterwards, many tried to get Claytor to participate in meetings of the American Mathematics Society, but had grown bitter. During World War II, Claytor served in the Army where he taught Anti-Aircraft Artillery. It was here in 1941 that Claytor first met David Blackwell at Chanute Field, about near Urbana, Illinois. The impression Blackwell formed about Claytor’s mathematical genius was immense and in 1947, the year that he became Chairman of the Mathematics Department at Howard University, Claytor was brought to Howard.

Soon after Claytor, met and married Dr. Mae Pullins, a lover of Mathematics though her Ph.D. was in Psychology. Claytor remained at Howard until his retirement in 1965. Two years later William Claytor died (1967). In 1980, the National Association of Mathematicians instituted the Claytor Lecture; a lecture series in honor of W. W. Schieffelin Claytor. With 18 to 21 teaching hours per week, and, later, as Chair of the Department of Mathematics at Howard University, Dr. Claytor worked for years as a researcher publishing but two papers: Topological Immersion of Peanian Continua in a Spherical surface, Annals of Mathematics 35 (1934), 809-835. Peanian Continua Not Embeddable in a Spherical Surface, Annals of Mathematics 38 (1937), 631-636.

Slim Gaillard, was born on this date. He was an African-American singer, guitarist, pianist, vibist, tenor saxophonist, and composer.

He made a name for himself as one half of the famous Slim & Slam, with bassist Slam Stewart. From Detroit, Gaillard emerged in a big way in the mid 1930s as part of a variety act, tap dancing as he played his guitar. From 1938-‘43, he did the Slim & Slam act with Stewart, heard on a WNEW radio show. Gaillard’s routines centered around humor, alliteration and much wordplay, as he entertained on such subjects as food, machinery and nonsense.

By the mid ‘40s he was working in Los Angeles and was appearing in films such as Hellzapoppin! and Star Spangled Rhythm both in 1942. He would later appear on TV, starring in Roots-The Next Generation, among others. By 1982 he had made a successful revival tour in England. This led to many appearances at jazz festivals, clubs and concerts during the 1980s. Gaillard died in London on Feb. 26, 1991.

One of the most momentous events in Black sports history took place on this day. Andrew Rube Foster organized the first professional Black baseball league—the Negro National League. He is generally considered the “Father of Black Baseball.” Foster is also considered one of the best pitchers to ever throw a baseball. But he is not remembered for his arm. It was his leadership and management style that set the standard for all Black baseball leagues to follow. Foster was born in September 1879 and died in December 1930.

The affluent Black town of Rosewood, FL was destroyed when Blacks were attacked by mobs of Whites beginning. A nearly three-year build up of violence led to the massacre in which at least eight (some witnesses estimated to be 40 to 80) person were killed.

World heavy weight boxing champion, Floyd Patterson, is born in Waco, North Carolina. He will become a boxer, winning a gold medal in the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in the middleweight class. He will become the first gold medalist to win a world professional title. As a professional, he will go on to defend his title 64 times and win 40 bouts by knockout.

This date celebrates the birth of Grace Ann Bumbry in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a famed African-American opera singer, who has performed as both a soprano and a mezzo-soprano.

She grew up at 1703 Goode Avenue in the city. She joined the Union Memorial Methodist Church’s choir at eleven, and sang at Sumner High School. She studied music at Boston University, Northwestern University, and the Music Academy of the West. While at Northwestern she became the student and protégé of Lotte Lehmann, a famous German-born opera diva.

She was a 1954 winner on the “Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts” show. After her concert debut in London in 1959, Bumbry made her operatic debut with the Paris Opera the next year in 1960 as Amneris in Verdi’s Aïda. In 1961, Richard Wagner’s grandson featured her in the role of Venus in Wagner’s Tannhäuser at Bayreuth, Germany’s Wagner Festival. The first person of African descent to sing there, Bumbry was an international sensation and won the Wagner Medal.

She made her United States debut in the same role at the Chicago Lyric Opera in 1963. She also has played leading roles in Verdi’s MacBeth, Strauss’s Salome, and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Bumbry has also performed as a concert artist and her voice has been praised for its wide range and rich color.

A mezzo-soprano who also successfully sang the soprano repertoire, Grace Bumbry recorded on four labels and sang in concerts world wide. Her honors include induction into the St. Louis Walk of Fame, the UNESCO Award, the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Academy of Music of the West, Italy’s Premio Giuseppe Verdi, and being named Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French government.

Dr. Ralph J. Bunche is appointed the first African American official in the U.S. State Department.

Archie A. Alexander, architectural engineer and former governor of the Virgin Islands, died on this day at the age of 69. He had been appointed governor of the Virgin Islands by President Eisenhower in 1954. This coachman’s son earned an engineering degree from the State University of Iowa, where he also played football. He later became co-owner of the construction firm Alexander and Repass, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C. In 1928 he was awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for being an outstanding African-American businessman.

Dr. Melvin H. Evans is inaugurated as the first elected governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands. William Henry Hastie was their first Black Governor, however the people could not elect their own governor until 1968.

Black America’s leading political organization—the Congressional Black Caucus—was organized on this day to provide awareness and alliances across racial, political, and social lines. However, the official founding is February 2, 1970. It is composed of Black members of the U.S. Congress. Originally, it was called a “Democratic Select Committee.” But it was named the Congressional Black Caucus in February 1971 on a motion by New York Rep. Charles Rangel. There were 13 founding members. Today the CBC has 42 members.

Congressman William H. Gray is elected chairman of the House Budget Committee, the highest congressional post, to date, held by an African American.

Leontyne Price makes her farewell appearance with the Metropolitan Opera singing the title role of Aida.

David Robinson blocks an N.C.A.A. record 14 shots while playing for the U.S. Naval Academy.

Fashion designer Patrick Kelly, a 35-year old native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, died in Paris. The clothing Kelly designed was worn by the Princess of Wales, Jane Seymour, the late Bette Davis, Grace Jones and Madonna.

Two months away from the 25th anniversary of the Civil Rights march on Selma, Alabama, 1,500 African American students boycott classes to express concern over the dismissal of Norward Rousell, the city’s first African American superintendent.

On this date two black head coaches competed for the first time in a National Football league (NFL) playoff game. The Indianapolis Colts’ Tony Dungy and the New York Jets’ Herman Edwards brought their teams to New York where the Jets won 41 to 0. Longtime friends, Dungy and Edwards were the only black head coaches in the league. Edwards spent five seasons as Dungy’s top assistant in Tampa before becoming New York’s coach in 2001. The student came out on top of the mentor because his offense was unstoppable, his defense stingy and his special teams dominant.

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