On this date, “Black
Laws or Codes” were enacted in the state of Ohio.
The Congress of the Buckeye state became the first legislative body in the
country to enact Black Laws, intended to restrict the movements and limit the
rights of free Blacks.
Two groups supported the measure: white settlers from Kentucky
and a growing group of businessmen who had ties to southern slavery, all of
them despised blacks. The legislation forced blacks and mulattoes to furnish
certificates of freedom from a court in the United
States before they could settle in Ohio. All black residents had to register
with the names of their children by June 1st 1805. The registration fee was twelve
and a half cents per name.
It became a punishable offense to employ a black person who could not present a
certificate of freedom. Anyone harboring or helping fugitive slaves was fined
one thousand dollars, with the informer receiving half of the fine. On January
25th 1807 these laws were toughened and succession of Northern
states followed Ohio’s
example. In fact, the constitutions of Illinois,
Indiana, and Oregon initially barred Blacks from settling
in those territories. The Black Laws remained in effect until 1849.
Matilda Sissieretta Jones is born in Portsmouth, Virginia.
She will become a gifted singer (soprano), who will rise to fame as a soloist
and troupe leader during the later part of the nineteenth century. She will be
nicknamed “Black Patti”, after a newspaper review mentioned her as an African
American equal to the acclaimed Italian soprano Adelina Patti. American racism
will prevent her from performing with established white operatic groups. She
will tour Europe, South and North America and the West
Indies as a soloist. In 1896, she will form her own troupe, “Black
Patti’s Troubadours,” which will combine the elements of opera and vaudeville,
creating musical comedy. She will join the ancestors on June 24, 1933.
S. Grant strikes a major blow against the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists by sending federal troops to Vicksburg, Miss.,
to protect Blacks from a terror campaign. Although his presidency is often
characterized by a series of corruption scandals, the former general who won
the Civil War for President Abraham Lincoln was a true friend of Blacks. In
fact, Grant’s campaigns throughout the South virtually destroyed the Klan. The
anti-Black terrorist organization was not able to rise again until around 1915.
The birth of Hubert
Julian is celebrated on this date. He was an
African-American aviation pioneer, and businessman.
From Trinidad, Hubert Fauntleroy Julian came from a well-to-do family who sent
him to England
for school. The dangers during WW I caused the family to move him to Montreal. Julians first
plane ride came in November 1919, with WW I hero Billy Bishop for a ten-minute
ride in a Sopwith Camel. Unlike Bessie Coleman, William Powell, and James
Herman, Julian had no trouble finding someone to tech him to fly. By 1921 and
having moved to New York,
he had become a “gentleman flyer,” a man about town, sharp dresser, etc. He was
a supporter of Marcus Garvey and in 1922 flew his plane over parades in support
In July, 1924, Julian intended to fly to Africa and become the first person to
fly solo across the Atlanic
Ocean. He dubbed his
I and began to raise money for the trip. This attempt failed with a crash into
the water off of Flushing New York,
and Julian spent the next month in the hospital recovering from injuries. His
1929 Trans-Atlanic flight, 2 years after that of Charles Lindbergh, was commemorated
by Calypso music singer Sam Manning in the record Lieutenant Julian. He became
a well known figure in the African-American and Afro-Caribbean community, and
was billed as “The Black Lindbergh.”
Julian flew to Ethiopia
in 1930, where his flying exploits impressed Emperor Haile Selassie, who
awarded Julian Abyssinian citizenship and the rank of Colonel. In 1931 he was
the first African-American to fly coast to coast in the United States.
Julian was one of several aviators in the 1920s and 1930s who competed with
others; briefly holding records for longest non-stop flights. In 1931, for
example, Julian held the non-stop non-refueling aviation endurance record with
a flight of 84 hours and 33 minutes. Julian flew a number of flights in and
between the Americas, Europe, and Africa, surviving several crashes. In between
major flights he headed and toured with a small all-black flying circus called
The Five Blackbirds.
During the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, Julian flew to Ethiopia to aid
in the defense of Selassie’s government. He commanded their Ethiopian air
force, which at the time consisted of 3 planes. Yet after getting into a public
fist-fight with Black aviator John C. Robinson, he was ordered to leave the
country. Beyond aviation, Julian also invented some safety devices used in
airplanes. Julian also acted as producer for the 1939 motion picture Lying
Lips. After the United States entered World War II, Julian volunteered to train
for combat with the Tuskegee Airmen. He was a colorful character who wore a
non-regulation Colonel’s uniform, despite not holding rank with the United
States Armed Forces, and was discharged before graduation.
In the 1940s Julian lived in Harlem as a local celebrity. Hubert Julian was a
staunch promoter of aviation and was one of (some say the first) black to get a
pilot’s license in the United States. He was nicknamed “The Black Eagle.” A
series of articles entitled “Black Eagle” were published in the New York
Amsterdam News newspaper in 1937 and 1938. In 1965 a biography of him entitled Black Eagle was published by The
Adventurers Club in London; a (different?) book with the same title by John Peer
Nugent was published in 1971.
The November 1974 issue of Jet Magazine said Julian, (then 77 years of age) was
making plans to rescue Haile Selassie, then believed to be held prisoner by the
new government of Ethiopia. Herbert Julian’s death is not known.
Kappa Alpha Psi was founded on the campus of Indiana University on this date. The
Fraternity’s fundamental purpose was (and is) achievement. It was the first
African American fraternity to be chartered as a national organization.
Early in the last century, African-American students were actively dissuaded
from attending college. Formidable barriers were put up to prevent the few who
were enrolled from assimilating into co-curricular campus life. This ostracism
characterized Indiana University in 1911, thus triggering Elder Watson Diggs, Byron Kenneth Armstrong, John M. Lee, Harvey T. Asher, Marcus P.
Blakemore, Guy L. Grant, Paul Caine, George Edmonds, Ezera D.
Alexander, and Edward G. Irvin to form
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, which remains the only Greek letter organization
with its 1st Chapter on the University’s campus.
The founders wanted a formula that would immediately raise the sights of black
collegians and stimulate them to accomplishments higher than they might have
imagined. Fashioning achievement as its purpose, Kappa Alpha Psi set in motion
uniting college men of culture, patriotism and honor in a bond of fraternity.
On this date, Hosea
Williams was born. He was an African-American civil
Williams was the son of blind African-American parents, from Attapulgus
Georgia. After studying at Morris Brown College and Atlanta University, he
found employment as a research chemist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In 1963, he was ejected from the NAACP for being too militant and organized the
Savannah, Georgia movement. After his successful leadership in Savannah, he was
personally recruited to Executive Staff of SCLC by Martin Luther King, Jr., who
referred to him as “my Castro.”
In 1965 he directed SCLC’s Summer Community Organization and Political
Education Project (SCOPE) in which SCLC field staff ad student volunteers
registered thousands in anticipation of passage of the Voting Rights Bill.
(Freedom Summer was not an SCLC project). His arrests were for civil disobedience
and civil and human rights protests and demonstrations. With John Lewis,
Williams led the Selma to Montgomery protest demonstration on March 7, 1965,
which was attacked by mounted police. That day, state troopers used nightsticks
and tear gas on marchers and the event became known as Bloody Sunday.
He was elected and served at every level of Representative Georgia state
government: Atlanta City Council, Georgia House of Representatives, and Dekalb
County Commissioner and controversially endorsed Ronald Reagan for president in
1980. After becoming a member of the Atlanta City Council, he led a
“Brotherhood March” in Forsyth County, which resulted in a violent
confrontation with the Ku Klux Klan in 1987. The violence of the Klan there and
subsequent protest there a week later led by Williams that became the largest
civil rights march since the 1960s. Two years later, Williams failed in his bid
to be elected mayor of Atlanta.
For a time, his legacy as a civil rights hero seemed endangered by a series of
run-ins with the law, most of them involving his erratic driving habits and
several arrests on charges of drunken driving. He was never found guilty of any
charges of drunk driving and afterwards stayed out of legal trouble. The Rev.
Joseph Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference, who said he did not always see “eye to eye” with him, said Williams
in his civil rights days, “could always inspire Blacks and anger Whites,” a man
without fear “because he felt he had the armor of God.”
He was a key civil rights leader who marched alongside The Rev. Martin Luther
King Jr. during the integration struggle in the 1960s. Hosea Williams died
November 16, 2000.
Alvin Ailey was born on this date. He was an African-American dancer and
choreographer and founding director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Originally from Rogers, Texas, at the age of twelve, his family moved to Los Angeles, California. There, on a
junior high school class trip to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, he fell in
love with concert dance. Ailey enrolled UCLA and became involved with
the Lester Horton Dance Theater in 1949. In 1954, he moved to New York City,
where he appeared in a number of stage productions gaining fame for the
strength and grace of his performances. Four years later, in 1958, Ailey formed
his own company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which performed the works of noted choreographers, as well as his own
creations, often inspired by African-American heritage. In that light, the
dance company has been and still is dedicated to the preservation and
enrichment of the American modern dance heritage and the uniqueness of black
1969, Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, the official school
of the Ailey Company, and he went on to form the Repertory Ensemble, the second
company, in 1974. His commitment to education was the foundation of the
organization’s long-standing involvement in arts-in-education programs,
His works include techniques of modern dance, jazz dance, ballet, and ethnic
dance. Many of these are based on African-American spirituals, expressing universal
themes of faith and humanity. Ailey choreographed for several companies in
addition to his own, including the American Ballet Theatre, Paris Opera Ballet,
and Joffrey Ballet. He received the Capezio Award in 1979 for his lifetime
contribution to dance. He died on December 1, 1989 in New York City.
On this date, Earl
Battey was born. He was an African-American
baseball player and teacher.
From Los Angeles, CA. in 1953, his mother Esther signed a letter of commitment
for him to become a free agent with the Chicago White Sox. He played in Chicago
for four years before moving on to the Washington Senators; they became to
Minnesota Twins in 1961. From 1961 through 1966 the durable Battey played in
805 of the Twins’ first 970 games despite injuries. Besides a persistent bad
knee, several dislocated fingers, and a goiter problem (at times he ballooned
to 60 pounds over his listed weight) he endured. Battey twice had cheekbones
broken by pitched balls and wore a special helmet after 1962.
He was an insightful man off the field, understanding racial segregation in
ways years ahead of even today’s views. Battey honored the lingering
segregation of the Minnesota Twins in 1962 over separate hotel accommodations
for black and White players. That year this still happened at their southern
baseball spring training facilities. He was not on the bandwagon of the
desegregation efforts of the (then) Minnesota State Commission Against
Discrimination (SCAD). When interviewed by them He said that pending
integration robbed black businesses (hotels, restaurants, etc.) of income and
excluded black kids from access to Twin players who were black. He also noted
that most of the white players hung out at the black businesses anyway and thus
something valuable in the name of black culture and ownership would be
Also as a player in Game Three of the 1965 World Series, he ran into a
neck-high crossbar in Dodger Stadium while chasing a foul pop. He played the
remainder of the series even though he could barely speak or turn his head. A
three-time Gold Glove winner, Battey topped all MLB catchers in 1962 with a.280
BA, threw out 24 runners, and picked off 13. He had career highs of 26 homers
and 84 RBI in 1963. He was the top vote-getter on the 1965 AL All-Star squad.
After he retired in 1967, his next stop was to give back to the community. He
worked in New York City as a recreation specialist with young disturbed boys; a
position he held for 12 years. In 1980 Battey fulfilled a promise he made to
his mother, enrolling at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach Florida.
There he took 34 credits a semester and coached the Wildcats basketball team.
By finishing his undergrad studies in two and-half-years, Battey was accorded
the distinction of Summa Cum Laude honors.
After graduating from Bethune-Cookman he became a high school teacher and
baseball coach in Ocala, Florida. On June 16, 2002 Battey enjoyed his family
reunion. This event had over 700 member show-up including his 90 year old
mother. Earl Jesse Battey Jr. died of cancer on November 15, 2003.
James Ngugi is born in
Kamiriithu, Kenya. He will become a writer whose works will depict events in
colonial and post colonial Kenya. He will integrate Marxist-Leninist beliefs
into his novels, which will include “Weep Not Child,” “The River Between,” “A
Grain of Wheat,” “Petals of Blood,” and “Matigari ma Mjiruumgi.” He will later change
his name to Ngugi wa Thiong’o. His
writings will cause him to be imprisoned by the Kenyan government and he will
later leave the country for England and the United States.
George Washington Carver died on
this date after succumbing to anemia at the age of 81 on the campus of the
Tuskegee Institute. He was known as the “Wizard of Tuskegee,” the
predominantly Black educational institution in Tuskegee, Ala. He was a
pioneering plant chemist and agricultural researcher noted for his work with
the peanut and soil restoration while at Tuskegee Institute, developing more than 300 products from the peanut as well as the sweet
potato. Carver’s research also helped advance farming techniques throughout
In 1935, Carver was specially appointed to the Department of
Agriculture by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to address the southern farming
crisis. Among other things he advised farmers to use crop rotation. Since
peanuts and sweet potato crops have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their roots,
these plants restore nitrogen levels in the soil, which helps other plants like
cotton to grow better.
Dr. Carver was awarded the Roosevelt Medal in 1939 for saving Southern
Agriculture (which was later instrumental in feeding the United States during
its involvement in W.W.II). That was also why, upon his death, Dr. Carver’s
hometown was made a historic site. President Harry S. Truman signed the Joint
Resolution on December 28, 1945, saying, “I do hereby call upon officials of
the Government to have the flag at half staff on all government buildings on
January 5, 1946 in commemoration of the achievements of George Washington
During the 79th Congress, Public Law 290 was passed to designate,
beginning January 5, 1946 and each year on his death as George Washington
Carver Recognition Day. Carver was honored by many around the world and
received numerous awards, but he did not seek those acknowledgements. George
loved agriculture and science and his passion was to improve everything he
could for the benefit of mankind. That is why George Washington Carver is such
a famous inventor. He was born in 1864.
marks the first George
Washington Carver Recognition Day under Public
Law 290 by the 79th Congress.
William H. Hastie, civilian
aide to the Secretary of War, resigns to protest segregation in the U.S. Armed
Ted Lange is born in
Oakland, California. He will become an actor and be best known for his role as ‘Isaac’
on the TV series, “The Love Boat.”
commemorative stamp of George
Washington Carver is issued by the U.S. Postal Service. The posthumous
honor bestowed upon the famed agricultural expert and researcher is only one of
the many awards he received, including the 1923 Spingarn Medal and membership
in the NYU Hall of Fame.
Jackie Robinson announces
his retirement from professional baseball.
The Harlem Globetrotters lose 100-99
to the New Jersey Reds, ending
their 2,495-game win streak.
Angela Davis, author,
activist, and professor, was arraigned on murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy
charges in Marion County, CA on this date. Davis was initially alleged to have
played a role in a courthouse shooting but was later acquitted.
Broadway premiere of “The Wiz” opens,
receiving enthusiastic reviews. The show, a black version of “The Wizard of Oz”
will run for 1,672 shows at the Majestic Theatre. Moviegoers, however, gave a thumb’s
down to the cinema version of the play that starred Diana Ross and Michael
Jackson years later. One memorable song from the show is “Ease on Down the
David Robinson becomes the
first player in Naval Academy history to score more than 2,000 points. This was
accomplished when the Midshipmen defeat East Carolina 91-66. He will go on to
become a major star of the NBA.
Reggie Jackson is inducted
into Baseball’s Hall of Fame with 94% of the votes.