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The General Assembly of the colony of Virginia passed the first Jim Crow law against Negroes to the effect that “all persons except Negroes be required to secure arms and ammunition or be subject to fine.”

“Felix,” a Boston slave, and others petition Massachusetts Governor Hutchinson for their freedom. It is the first of a record eight similar petitions filed during the Revolutionary War.

Charles Sumner was born on this date. He was an American politician and abolitionist.

The son of a lawyer he was from Boston, Massachusetts. Sumner was admitted to the bar after graduating from Harvard University in 1833. He developed radical political opinions and after reading An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans by Lydia Maria Child he became active in the campaign against slavery. Sumner also supported education and prison reform. Sumner joined the Whig Party but in 1848 and then helped to form the Free Soil Party. During this time he legally challenged the segregated schools system in Boston.

In 1851, with the Democratic Party, Sumner was elected to Congress becoming the Senate’s leading opponent of slavery. After a speech Sumner made against pro-slavery groups in Kansas in 1856 he was beaten unconscious by Preston Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina. His injuries stopped him from attending the Senate for the next three years. In the secession crisis (1860-61), Sumner argued against any compromise and became one of the Congressional leaders of the Radical Republicans. During the American Civil War, he advocated that Black troops help bring an end to slavery.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Sumner used political skill in preventing European intervention in the war. Sumner also opposed Abraham Lincoln’s treatment of Major General John C. Fremont. Fremont, a commander of the Union Army in St. Louis had proclaimed that all slaves owned by Confederates in Missouri were free. Lincoln asked Fremont to modify his order, Fremont refused replaced by the conservative General Henry Halleck. Sumner wrote to Lincoln saying it was sad “to have the power of a god and not use it godlike”. Sumner also disagreed with Abraham Lincoln over suffrage.

Sumner wanted all African Americans to have the vote whereas Lincoln favored partial enfranchisement. Sumner thought that universal suffrage would help the government arguing, “the only Unionists of the South are black”. Despite their many disagreements, the two men remained close friends. On one occasion Lincoln told Sumner “the only difference between you and me is a difference of a month or six weeks in time.”

Sumner also opposed President Andrew Johnson arguing in Congress that Southern plantations should be taken from their owners and divided among the former slaves. He attacked Johnson’s attempt to veto the extension of the Freeman’s Bureau, the Civil Rights Bill and the Reconstruction Acts. Sumner urged an extensive program of economic aid, land distribution and free education for freed slaves. In November 1867, the Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 that Andrew Johnson be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The majority report contained a series of charges including pardoning traitors, profiting from the illegal disposal of railroads in Tennessee, defying Congress, denying the right to reconstruct the South and attempts to prevent the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. At Johnson’s impeachment trial Sumner led the attack. He argued that: “This is one of the last great battles with slavery.

Driven from the legislative chambers, driven from the field of war, this monstrous power has found a refuge in the executive mansion, where, in utter disregard of the Constitution and laws, it seeks to exercise its ancient, far-reaching sway. All this is very plain. Nobody can question it. Andrew Johnson is the impersonation of the tyrannical slave power. In him it lives again. He is the lineal successor of John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis; and he gathers about him the same supporters.”

Sumner was bitterly disappointed when the Senate vote was one short of the required two-thirds majority for conviction. Sumner also criticized President Ulysses S. Grant for not doing more for black civil rights. This upset senior members of the Republican Party and he was removed as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Sumner lost all faith in Grant and in the 1872 presidential election he supported his rival, Horace Greeley. Charles Sumner died of a heart attack on March 11, 1874.

The first sizeable emigration of American Blacks back-to-Africa takes place. Eighty-six free Blacks board a ship known as the Mayflower of Liberia and leave New York harbor for West Africa. The group ends up in the nation of Sierra Leone then a British controlled colony that welcomed Blacks from America.

The World Anti-Slavery Convention opens in London, England.

William Lloyd Garrison founds the New England Anti-Slavery Society at the African Meeting House in Boston, Massachusetts, where he issues the society’s “Declaration of Sentiments” from the Meeting House pulpit.

The Peabody Fund was established to provide financial aid to the recently freed slaves. Most of the monies went to construction projects, scholarships, teacher training and industrial education. The fund was established by philanthropist George Peabody and remained a major influence on both Black and Southern education for nearly 50 years.

Thomas Boyne receives the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery in two New Mexico battles while a sergeant in Troop C, 9th U.S. Calvary.

Harry Herbert Pace was born on this date. He was an African-American music publisher and insurance executive.

From Covington, Georgia, his father, Charles Pace, was a blacksmith who died while Harry was an infant thus his mother, Nancy Francis Pace, raised him. Light skinned and extremely bright, Pace finished elementary school at age twelve and seven years later graduated valedictorian of his class in Atlanta University. A disciple of his college professor, W.E.B. DuBois and his concept of the talented tenth, upon graduation, Pace worked in printing, banking and insurance industries in Atlanta and Memphis.

In various junior executive positions, he demonstrated a strong awareness of the tactics of commerce and had a reputation for rebuilding failing enterprises. After receiving another degree in 1903, Pace went into the printing business with Du Bois in Memphis. Two years later they put together the short-lived magazine The Moon Illustrated Weekly was the first illustrated African-American journal. During this stopover in the South, two significant things happened that would impact his figure.

In 1912 in Memphis, he met and collaborated with W.C. Handy, who took a liking to Pace; they wrote songs together. Later they would develop the Pace and Handy Music Company, bringing him to New York City. Secondly, he met and married his wife, Ethylene Bibb, who would be a great inspiration in his life. Around 1920, the company began working with composers William Grant Still and Fletcher Henderson. Although the company did well and his financial status improved, Pace did not like Handy’s business methods and resigned.

It was here that he formed his own Phonograph Company, Black Swan; the first Black-owned record company. In 1925, he founded the Northeastern Life Insurance Company in Newark, New Jersey, a venture that became the largest black-owned business in the North during the 1930’s. Besides his insurance business, Pace attended the Chicago law School, receiving his degree in 1933 and he was active in Democratic Party politics. He opened a law firm in downtown Chicago in 1942, it has been said that disgruntled employees accused Pace of trying to “pass” for white.

This hurt him deeply, he withdrew from the black community and Harry Pace died the following year.

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi is born in South Africa. He will become a pre-apartheid Zulu poet, novelist, and educator.

The first Black boxing champion dies on this day. He was Canadian George Dixon. He stood only 5-3 tall, weighed just 87 pounds and boxed as “Little Chocolate.” During his career, he won the world bantamweight and featherweight boxing titles. Despite his diminutive size, he won 78 fights—30 by knockout. His life was cut short by opium use and alcoholism. He died when he was only 38 years old.

On this date, Jerome Heartwell Holland was born. He was an African-American diplomat and educator.

From Auburn, N.Y. Holland was (in 1935) the first Black man to play football at Cornell University. He graduated in 1939 and received a master’s degree in sociology two years later. After teaching sociology and physical education at Lincoln University, he received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950. Holland served as president of Delaware State College, from 1953 to 1959 and of Hampton Institute from 1960 to 1970.

He also wrote a number of economic and sociological studies of African-Americans including Black Opportunity 1969. President Nixon appointed him ambassador to Sweden in 1970; he was also a board member of nine major United States companies including AT&T and General Motors. In 1972 Holland became the first African-American to sit on the board of the New York Stock Exchange, a position he held until 1980. He became a member of the College Football’s Hall of Fame in 1965. Jerome Holland died January 13, 1985.

Wilbert Harrison is born. He will become a singer and will be best known for his recordings “Kansas City,” and “Let’s Work Together.”

Doris Troy is born. She will become a rhythm and blues singer best known for her song “Just One Look.”

On this date, the Armed Services integrated its women’s defenses.

Ensign Edith De Voe was sworn into the Regular Navy Nurse Corps and in March, First Lieutenant Nancy C. Leftenant entered the Regular Army Nurse Corps, becoming the corps’ first Black members. Following World War II, racial and gender discrimination, as well as segregation persisted in the military. Entry quotas and segregation in the WAC deterred many from re-entry between 1946 and 1947. By June 1948, only four Black officers and 121 enlisted women remained in the WAC.

President Truman eliminated the issues of segregation, quotas and discrimination in the armed forces by signing Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948. WAC’s began integrated training and living in April 1950. Affirmative action and changing racial policies opened new doors for Black women. During the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Black women took their places in the war zone.

Harold R. Perry becomes the second African American Roman Catholic bishop since the U.S. was founded and the first in the 20th century.

Cecil A. Partee is elected president pro tem of the Illinois State Senate. He is the first African American to hold this position.

Robert N.C. Nix, Jr. was inauguration as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s 54th Chief Justice on this day, becoming the first African-American elected to head a judicial branch of government in the United States. Nix was first elected to the seven-member court in 1971. Before that, he served as Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge from 1968 to 1971. He also was a former deputy attorney general of the state and a thirteen-year veteran of the Court.. Nix, a native Philadelphian, graduated from Villanova University of Pennsylvania Law School. Nix was a prominent lawyer during the Civil Rights Movement as a partner in the law firm of Nix, Rhodes, and Nix from 1958 to 1968. Nix retired in 1996 after more than two decades on the court. Nix died on August 23, 2003 in suburban Philadelphia at the age of 75.

Elizabeth Koontz joins the ancestors at the age of 69.  She was a noted educator and the first African American president of the National Education Association. She also had been director of the Women’s Bureau in the U.S. Department of Labor.

On this date, H.R. 40 was brought before the 1st Session of the 105th Congress.

This was the first formal attempt for
Reparations for African-American for slavery since reconstruction. John Conyers, Democrat-Michigan, presented it in the House of Representatives. This Act was cited as the “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.”

Briefly, H.R. 40 read as follows: To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.

H.R. 40 had eight (8) sections in its full text. The last section (8) appropriated $8,000,000 as the price for finding out the extent of reparations.

Jazz great, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, joins the ancestors in Englewood, New Jersey at the age of 76. He had played actively until early 1992.

Lenny Wilkins became the all-time winningest coach in NBA history when his team, the Atlanta Hawks, won the game that marked his 939th coaching win on this day. The win allowed him to surpass Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach’s 938 victories. Wilkins served double duty as a player and coach of the Seattle SuperSonics and Portland Trailblazers. He later coached Seattle (1977-1985) and Cleveland (1986-1993) before he arrived in Atlanta (1993-2003) and New York (2004-2005). In 2006, with 1,332 wins, he was hired as a vice chairman of the Seattle SuperSonics and was later named the team’s president of basketball operations. He left the organization in 2007. Wilkins is one of the two people enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player (1989) and as a coach (1998). He is the only person who occupies a spot on both the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and the Top 10 Coaches in league history.

Mamie Till Mobley died on this day. She was the mother of Emmett Till—the 14-year-old Chicago youth who was kidnapped, tortured and killed while on a visit to family in Mississippi. He was murdered after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. No one was ever punished for his death. Two white men were tried and found not guilty by an all-white jury. But both men would later admit that they had killed Till. Mamie Till Mobley was 81 when she died.

On this date, the city of New York agreed to pay $3 million to the family of Amadou Diallo. He was an unarmed West African immigrant shot to death by police nearly five years earlier.

Representing New York, Michael Cardozo, corporation counsel for the city, said in a statement announcing the settlement: “The mayor, the police department and the city deeply regret what occurred and extend their sympathies to the Diallo family.”

Diallo was shot to death in the entrance hall of his Bronx apartment building on February 4, 1999, by undercover officers who said they mistook his wallet for a gun. The officers fired 41 shots, hitting the street vendor from Guinea 19 times and making the killing an international symbol of police brutality.

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