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Connecticut Legislature approves a gradual emancipation plan.

On this date, in two Louisiana parishes 35 miles outside New Orleans, LA, more than 500 insurgent slaves rebelled against their white masters in Louisiana. Charles Deslondes and other slaves began the revolt on the plantation of Manual Andry.

The Deslondes plantation surrounded the Andry plantation. Charles was a field laborer on the Deslondes plantation where he was born. At the time of the revolt he was about 31 years old. The Andry plantation was the site of an arsenal for the local militia. On the night of January 8th it began to rain, but the rebels stuck to their plans; they began by overwhelming Gilbert Andry and his son. After they discovered that the arsenal had been removed, they killed Andry’s son. Colonel Andry was sparred.

Armed with cane knives, hoses, clubs and a few guns, the rebels began the march down River Road towards New Orleans. They were motivated by the French slogan “sur la Orleans” as only three slaves out of the 141 rebels were known to have spoken some English. As planned, they gained participants as they moved from plantation to plantation along the east bank of the Mississippi River. There is considerable disagreement on how well organized the rebels were. The only eye witness testimony says they were formed clan-like; similar to their tribal associations of Africa. The rebels attacked and burned five empty plantations; most of the owners were already in New Orleans at the start of the revolt.

Most of the owners did not “flee” to New Orleans; they crossed the river to assemble the militia.
The Fifth Militia Regiment, under Major Charles Perret, began chasing the rebels at around 9 am on January 9th, with only twenty men. When he discovered that the rebels, camped on the farm of Jacques Fortier, numbered about 200, he returned to Judge St. Martin’s house to report what he saw. The militia gathered more men and planned to attack the rebels early the next morning. The rebels were able to cross about 25 miles before being stopped on January 10th by U. S. troops from New Orleans. That morning, Major Perret, with only 60 men, attacked the rebels. After the initial volley, most of them surrendered.

The slave owners had fled to New Orleans and territorial governor William C.C. Claiborne had dispatched the company to put down the rebellion. The majority of rebels were either captured or escaped into the swamps, leaving a much smaller group of rebels to face the militia. Deslondes was one of the first to leave the battlefield. He was caught two days later; he was tried and executed on Andry’s plantation. Before the end, he and his compatriots freed about 25 miles of territory; they then back tracked 15 of those miles and were stopped by a force of militia three to four times smaller than the rebel “army.” The rebels left at least 2 slave owners killed and 3 plantations burned completely to the ground.

The leaders, on horse back, made the fastest escape and fled into the swamps chased by the Militia. The captured prisoners (numbering three times their captors) were taken to the Destrehan plantation. The “Army”, under command of General Hampton did not arrive on the scene until January 11th. 95 slaves were killed or tried and executed as a result of this revolt. 56 of those slaves captured on the 10th and involved in the revolt were returned to their masters. 30 more slaves were captured, but they had been forced to join the revolt by Charles Deslondes and his men and were also returned to their masters.

At least three slaves were killed by the rebels for not wanting to participate in the revolt. Following the required 40 day waiting period, seven slaves were freed after the revolt as a result of their actions to prevent it.
The bulk of the revolt took place in the parishes of St. Charles and St. James and had lasted three days.

The Battle of New Orleans, the last battle of the War of 1812, was fought. Black troops, the Battalion of Free Men of Color and a Battalion from Santa Domingo supported Andrew Jackson in the campaign against the British.

1836 or 37
Fanny M. Jackson is born a slave in Washington, DC. She will become the first African American woman college graduate in the United States when she graduates from Oberlin College in 1865. After graduation, she will become a teacher at the Institute for Colored Youths in Philadelphia. In 1869, she will become the first African American woman to head an institution of higher learning when she is made Principal of the Institute. In the fall of 1881, Fanny will marry the Rev. Levi Jenkins Coppin, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The marriage will open a wealth of missionary opportunities for Fanny. When her husband is made Bishop of Cape Town, South Africa, Fanny will accompany him and travel thousands of miles organizing mission societies. She will join the ancestors on January 21, 1913 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1926, a facility for teacher training in Baltimore, Maryland will be named Fanny Jackson Coppin Normal School in her honor. The school is known today as Coppin State University.

Howard Theological Seminary became Howard University on this date. The school was named in honor of General Oliver O. Howard, a Freedmen’s Bureau leader and Civil War hero.

Overriding President Andrew Johnson’s veto, Congress passes legislation giving African Americans in the District of Columbia the right to the vote.

Pickney Benton Stewart Pinchback became acting governor of the state of Louisiana upon the impeachment of Governor Warmouth. Pinchback held his office for six days at which time the term of office expired. It was the only time a Black has served as governor of a state in the history of the United States.

On this date, Black adventurer George Washington (1817-1905) and his wife Mary Jane, having traveled cross country in the company of foster parents and settled in Washington Territory a quarter of a century earlier, file the plat that establishes the town of Centerville, soon to be renamed Centralia, in Lewis County in Southwest Washington. George Washington, a pioneer from Virginia, is the son of an African American slave and a woman of English descent. For the next 30 years, he is a leading citizen, promoter, businessman, and benefactor of the town he founds because of his willingness to help his neighbors. He is often called the A.P. Gianini of the Pacific Northwest.

Eva Roberta Coles Boone was born on this date. She was an African-American teacher and missionary.

From Charlottesville, Virginia, she graduated from Hartshorn Memorial College (later Virginia Union University) in 1899. Coles taught in her hometown for a while before marrying Clinton C. Boone in 1901. That same year they traveled to Africa with the American Baptist Missionary Union. (ABMU).

In the motherland, Boone took charge of the kindergarten class in the mission day school. She also organized a sewing group among forty African women. Boone worked in the mission hospital as well, yet after several weeks she got sick due to a poisonous bite. Because of this Eva Boone died on December 8, 1902, and was only twenty-two years old.

Timothy Drew (Nobel Drew Ali), founder of the Moorish Science, a forerunner of the Nation of Islam, was born in North Carolina on this date.

On this date we point out the birth of Butterfly McQueen. She was an African-American actress who portrayed Scarlett O’Hara’s squeaky-voiced maid, Prissy in Gone with the Wind.

Thelma McQueen (her birth name) was the daughter of a stevedore and a domestic worker. She was an only child from Tampa, Florida and got the name Butterfly after appearing in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which she danced in the Butterfly Ballet. Although Gone with the Wind went on to become a huge success, McQueen found it difficult finding work as an actress. She was often typecast in roles as maids and said, “I didn’t mind playing a maid the first time, because I thought that was how you got into the business. But after I did the same thing over and over, I resented it. I didn’t mind being funny, but I didn’t like being stupid.”

McQueen could not attend Gone with the Wind’s premiere because it was held in a white’s only theater, but she was a guest of honor at its 50th anniversary celebration in 1989. In 1975 at age 64 McQueen earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from New York’s City College. In 1980 she won an Emmy for her performance in a children’s production, The Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid. Butterfly McQueen died from burns suffered in a fire at her home in Augusta, Georgia in 1996.

On this date, the African National Congress was founded with the aid of W.E.B. Du Bois.

It began as a nonviolent civil rights organization that worked to promote the interests of Black Africans. With a mostly middle-class constituency, the ANC stressed constitutional means of change through the use of delegations, petitions, and peaceful protest. In 1940 Alfred B. Xuma became ANC president and began recruiting younger, more outspoken members. Among the new recruits were Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, and Walter Sisulu, who helped found the ANC’s Youth League in 1944 and they soon became the organization’s leading members.

ANC membership greatly increased in the 1950s after South Africa’s white-minority government began to implement apartheid, a policy of rigid racial segregation, in 1948. The ANC actively opposed apartheid and engaged in increasing political combat with the government. In 1955 the ANC issued its Freedom Charter, which stated, “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.” In 1961 the ANC formed a military wing called Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”), which began a campaign of sabotage against the government. During the unrest of the next several years, Mandela and Sisulu were sentenced to life in prison for their ANC activities, and Tambo left South Africa to establish an external wing of the ANC.

For the next 30 years the ANC operated as an underground organization, with its principal leaders imprisoned or living outside South Africa. In 1976 a revolt in Soweto, a Black community outside Johannesburg, led to a reawakening of black African politics and a renewed assault on apartheid. ANC membership continued to grow throughout this time. In 1990 the government lifted its ban on the ANC and other black African organizations.

In that same year Mandela was released from more than 27 years in prison as the recognized leader of the ANC. No longer forced to work underground, the ANC evolved into a political party seeking power through the ballot. In February 1993 the ANC and the government agreed to a plan that would form a transitional government to rule for five years after the country’s first all-race elections scheduled for April 1994. In the months before the election, violence erupted between the ANC and supporters of the Inkatha Freedom party, the Zulu nationalist movement.

Still, from April 27 to 30, 1994, millions of South Africans of all races participated in the country’s first democratic elections. On May 2, after the ANC’s victory, President F.W. de Klerk conceded the presidency to Mandela, who led the country’s first multiracial government. In late 1997 the aging Mandela, who had announced that he would not be seeking another term as president, formally stepped down as head of the ANC. The party’s convention chose ANC veteran leader Thabo Mbeki as the new party president.

In June 1999 elections, the ANC won close to two-thirds of the seats in the legislature and selected Mbeki as South Africa’s second black president

The founding of the Karamu House is celebrated on this date. Located in Cleveland, OH the Karamu house is the oldest Black Theater Company in America.

Rowena and Russell Jelliffe, two Oberlin graduates opened it as a settlement house. This first home was in an area of Cleveland called “The Roaring Third, at the corner of E. 38th and Central Avenue. Karamu comes from a Swahili word meaning “a place of feasting and enjoyment in the center of the community.” The group was originally named the Dumas Drama Club. The name was then changed to the Gilpin Players after actor Charles Gilpin visited the group in 1923. The group name was changed to the Karamu players in the 1940’s and encouraged a more “integrated” casting policy.

Famous playwrights produced by the Karamu Theater include: Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Lorraine Hansberry. Today, Karamu offers art experiences for people of all ages through a variety of programs. The three primary program areas are the Early Childhood Development Center, the Center of Arts and Education, and the Karamu Performing Arts Theatre. We have classes for children, an active seniors program and much, much more. Through its many programs Karamu explores a broad range of the African American experience and invites everyone to share in its treasures.

Colonel Charles Young, one of the first African American graduates of West Point, the first to achieve the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army, and the second winner of the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal (1916), died at the age of 58 in Lagos, Nigeria while on duty as a military attaché to the Liberian Republic. On June 16, 1918, Colonel Young began his famous ride on horseback at Wilberforce, OH and ended it 16 days later in Washington, DC. The ride was in protest over the Army retiring him one day before a long list of new generals were to be made. He was the sixth in line for promotion to brigadier general but was found physically unfit, and retired from active service.

Shirley Bassey is born in Wales, United Kingdom. She will become a professional singer and is best known for her rendition of the James Bond themes: “Goldfinger,” “Diamond’s Are Forever,” and “Moonraker.” With thirty-one hits in the UK Singles Chart, which span a record forty two year period for a female vocalist, plus thirty five hit LPs in the corresponding UK Albums Chart, she will become Britain’s most successful female chart artist of all time. In recognition of her career longevity, endurance and a particular admiration from the Royal Family, Bassey will be created a Dame Commander of the British Empire (the female equivalent of a Knight Commander) on December 31, 1999 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She will also be awarded France’s top honor, the Legion d’Honneur, to signify her enduring popularity and importance in the culture of France.

The state-owned Alabama Educational Television Commission has its application for license renewal denied by the Federal Communications Commission because of racial discrimination against African Americans in employment and programming.

Pauli Murray was ordained the first Black woman Episcopal Priest in the United States on this date.

The oldest integration law suit in the US was settled on this date when the St. Helena Parish schools were officially integrated. The suit was originally filed by a John Hall and the NAACP in 1952.

Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, scores his 20,000th career point.

Willie Lewis Brown was sworn in as the first Black mayor of San Francisco, CA on this date.

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