this date, poetess Phyllis or (Phillis) Wheatley was freed by her master, John
Wheatley. A child of seven or eight, she was sold to John and Susanna Wheatley
of Boston on July 11, 1761. Her first name was apparently derived from the ship
that carried her to America, The Phillis.
Black America’s first renowned poet, Phyllis Wheatley, was freed and her first
book of poetry was published. The book—”Poems on Various Subjects, Religious
and Moral”—was widely acclaimed in both America and Europe. Wheatley was born
in West Africa but brought to America as a slave at the age of seven.
Unfortunately, she would die in poverty in December 1784.
*This date is in dispute by many sources. According
to About.com, this date would be incorrect. About.com states, “When her master
died in March of 1778, she was effectively, if not
legally, freed from the bonds of slavery by her master’s will.
John Fremont was born on this date. He was a
European-American soldier, politician and abolitionist.
From Savannah, Georgia, educated at Charleston College, he taught mathematics
before joining the Army Topographical Engineers Corps in 1838. Among other
field services, in 1842 Fremont mapped most of the Oregon Trail and climbed the
second highest peak in the Wind River Mountains, afterwards known as Fremont
Peak. Fremont made many expeditions; in 1845 he explored the Great Basin and
the Pacific coast.
When the Mexican War started, Fremont was given the rank of major in the United
States Army and helped annex California. Commodore Robert Stockton appointed
Fremont as governor of California. In 1850 Fremont was elected as senator for
California. A strong opponent of slavery, Fremont helped found the Republican
Party and in 1856 was chosen as its first presidential candidate. With the
outbreak of the American Civil War he was appointed as a Major General in the
Union Army and put in command of the newly created Western Department based in
On August 30, 1861, Freemont proclaimed that all slaves owned by Confederates
in Missouri were free. Lincoln was furious and asked him to modify his order;
Fremont refused claiming that “it would imply that I myself thought it wrong
and that I had acted without reflection which the gravity of the point
demanded.” Lincoln was urged to dismiss him. He was replaced Horace Greeley,
editor of the New York Tribune, wrote an open letter to Lincoln defending
Fremont and criticizing the president for failing to make slavery the dominant
issue of the war and compromising moral principles for political motives.
Lincoln famously replied: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the
Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union
without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all
the slaves, I would do it.” Fremont spent the rest of the war in New York. In
May 1864 a convention of Radical Republications selected Fremont as their
candidate for president. The idea of a radical candidate standing in the
election worried Lincoln and negotiations began to persuade him to change his
His price was the removal of his old enemy, Montgomery Blair, from the Cabinet.
On September 22, 1864, Fremont withdrew from the contest. The following day,
Lincoln sacked Blair and replaced him with the radical, William Dennison. After
the Civil War Fremont became involved in and failed at railroad financing and
building. He (then) became governor of Arizona Territory from 1873 to 1883.
Fremont wrote several books including several about his expeditions and his
autobiography, Memories of My Life 1887. John Fremont died in New York City on
July 13, 1890.
Osai Tutu Kwamina defeated the British at Assamaka, Ashanti.
Freedom Journal, the first Black paper, is published.
The African American population in Portsmouth, Ohio was forcibly deported by order of
The Portland (Maine) Anti-Slavery Society was founded.
-Digital History: Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Research,
History Day by Day, http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/daybyday/daybyday_menu.cfm
P.D. Smith, inventor, patented the potato digger on this date. This instrument helped with efficiency
and increased the harvest of potatoes.
this date, Willa Brown-Chappell was born. She was an African-American
aviator, activist, and educator and the first Black officer in the Civil Air
From Glasgow, Kentucky, Willa Mae Brown received her Bachelor of Science degree
in business from Indiana State Teachers College in 1927. After graduating, she
taught public school in Gary, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois, where she
developed an interest in aviation.
In 1935, Brown received a master mechanics certificate from the Aeronautical
University in Chicago, and three years later received a private pilot’s license
with a near flawless score of 96 percent. She then earned a masters’ in
business administration (MBA) from Northwestern University and a Civil
Aeronautics Administration (CAA) ground school instructor’s rating. When Brown
married Cornelius Coffey, the two formed the Coffey School of Aeronautics to
train African-American pilots.
Willa Brown retired in 1971 as a schoolteacher, and she died of a stroke in
Fanny M. Jackson Coppin, principal of the Institute for
Colored Youth, died in Philadelphia. This pioneering great author, educator,
activist, spiritual leader, missionary, and lecturer was born a slave in
Washington, DC in 1835. She attended Oberlin College of Ohio, where she
graduated in 1865, becoming the first African American woman to graduate from
an American college. Mrs. Coppin was active in a strong Black women’s rights
movement that was designed to improve their overall welfare and broaden their opportunities.
In this capacity, she taught, organized, and lectured as a prominent and
zealous advocate of racial and sexual equality. Coppin State College (now
University) in Baltimore, Maryland was named after her.
Nina M. McKinney was born on this date. She was an African-American
actress and entertainer; she was the first Black actress to make her name in
From Lancaster, South Carolina, her grandmother raised Nina Mae McKinney near
the estate of Col. LeRoy Sanders, where her family had worked for several
generations. When she was twelve, her parents (living in New York) sent for
her. Her career as an entertainer began at the age of sixteen when she
performed in the chorus line of Lew Leslies Blackbirds. Her performance raised
eyebrows and she was cast for a role in Hallelujah,
1929, directed by King Vidor.
It was in this role that McKinney originated the stereotype “Black Temptress”
that has haunted Black actresses to this very day. Critics described her
characterization of Chick as “half woman, half child.” She was only seventeen
years old at the time, young, beautiful, and on the strength of this
performance McKinney was given a five-year contract with Metro-Golden-Mayer
(MGM). It was here that she fell into the exploitation and oppression common to
African-American women in Hollywood. McKinney was a leading lady in an industry
that had no leading roles for a Black woman.
MGM did not know what to do with her and as a result she was cast in only two
films, Safe in Hell, 1931 and Reckless, 1935; both of which were small
parts and when her contract expired so did her career in Hollywood. She toured
Europe in 1929 with pianist Garland Wilson. They performed in Paris and London.
Billed as the “Black Garbo’” she was well received by audiences across the
abroad. McKinney twice starred with Paul Robeson in Congo Road and the English film Sander
of the River, 1935. She appeared in many independent films in America
including Pie Pie Blackbird with
In 1940 she toured the United States with her own jazz band after marrying
musician Jimmy Monroe, her last film was Pinky 1949. Nina McKinney died in New
York on May 3, 1967.
Errol Walton Barrow, PC, QC was born on this date. He was a
From Barbados at Nesfield, St. Lucy he was the son of Rev. Reginald Grant
Barrow and Ruth nee O’Neal. Young Barrow was also the nephew of legendary Dr.
Charles Duncan O’Neal, founder of the Democratic League. In 1939, he won a
scholarship in Classics to Codrington College but joined the Royal Air Force
and served in World War II. He was personal navigation officer to the
Commander-in-Chief of the British Army at the Rhine between 1940 and 1942.
After the RAF, Barrow studied law and passed the Bar in 1949.
He returned home in 1950 as a practicing barrister-at-law and became a member
of the Barbados Labor Party (BLP) in 1951. A founder member of the Democratic
Labor Party, Barrow swept to power in 1961 and held that position for five
years. He then took the island into independence from Britain and became
Barbados’ first Prime Minister in 1966 until 1976. During his term in office
Barrow sought a new social democratic state and was able to expand free
education to all levels; he introduced a National Insurance, improved health
services, accelerated industrial development and the expansion of the tourist
Barrow received many awards among them were an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law
from Mc Gill University in Canada in 1966 and the Lions International “Head of
State Award” for ‘outstanding service to the country’ in 1967. He was made a
Privy Councilor in 1968 and in 1969 wrote Canada’s Role in the West Indies.’ In
1986, he again let his party to power by the largest margin in Barbados’
history. On June 1, 1987 after only one year in office, Errol Barrow died.
In his honor Barbadians observe his birthday as a National holiday and have a
constant reminder of his life and service in his likeness which is widely
circulated on the island’s fifty dollar bill, popularly known as ‘an Errol’.
Toni Stone was born on this date. She was an African-American
professional baseball player.
Born Marcenia Lyle Alberga in St. Paul, Minnesota, as a
teenager she played with the local boys’ teams in her hometown. During World
War II she moved to San Francisco, playing first with an AAGPBL American Legion
team, then moving to the San Francisco Sea Lions, a Black, semi-pro
barnstorming team; she drove in two runs in her first at-bat.
The AAGPBL was segregated throughout its 12 year existence even though their
male counterparts integrated in 1947, their fifth year of play. She didn’t feel
that the owner was paying her what they’d originally agreed on, so when the
team played in New Orleans, she switched and joined the Black Pelicans. From
there she went to the New Orleans Creoles, part of the Negro League minors,
where she made $300 a month in 1949. The local Black Press reported that she
made several unassisted double plays, and batted .265.
In 1953, the Indianapolis Clowns, signed Stone to play second base, a position
that had been recently vacated when the Boston Braves signed Hank Aaron. This contract
made Stone the first woman to play in the Negro Leagues. The Clowns had begun
as a gimmick team, much like the Harlem Globetrotters, known as much for their
showmanship as their playing. But by the ‘50s they had toned down their antics
and were playing straight baseball. Having a woman on the team didn’t hurt
revenues, which had been declining steadily since Jackie Robinson broke the
color barrier in the majors, and many young Black players left the Negro
In 1954, her contract was sold to the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the stronger
teams in the Negro Leagues. But a lack of playing time led Stone to retire that
season. Toni Stone died in 1996.
The All Black American Bridge Association was founded.
On this date, “Big Band” leader Count Basie and his Orchestra recorded their famous “One O’clock Jump” for Decca Records. On this same date in 1942, he
re-recorded it for Okeh Records in New York City.
Jack and Jill of America, Inc. was founded in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, by Marion Turner Stubbs Thomas. Dedicated to providing educational,
cultural, civic, and social programs for African American youth, Jack and Jill grew
to have 180 chapters nationwide.
Richard “Richie” P. Havens was born on this date. He is an African-American singer and song writer.
Born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, the eldest of nine
children, Havens moved to Greenwich Village in 1961. During this time he began
performing with the folk boom taking place in the 1960’s. It was as a live
performer, that he first earned widespread notice. Influenced in his early days
by Nina Simone, Havens had a distinctive style as a folksinger, appearing in
such clubs as the Cafe Wha? He would strum his guitar while barring chords with
his thumb, using it basically as percussion while singing rhythmically in a
gruff voice for an interesting style. Havens signed with Douglas Records in
1965 and recorded two albums.
In 1967, the Verve division of MGM Records formed a folk section (Verve
Forecast) and signed Havens and other folk-based performers. The result was his
third album, Mixed Bag. It wasn’t
until 1968 that Havens began to hit the charts with the Something Else Again album. In 1969 came the memorable double album
Richard P. Havens 1983. His career benefited enormously from his appearance at
the Woodstock festival in 1969, his role in the movie and the album made from
the concert in 1970. His first album after that exposure, Alarm Clock made the Top 30 and produced a Top 20 single in “Here
Comes the Sun.” These recordings were Havens’ commercial high-water mark, and
by this time he had become an international touring success.
Richie played the 1966 Newport Folk Festival, the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival,
the January, 1968 Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert at Carnegie Hall, the
December, 1968 Miami Pop Festival, the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival, and of
course, the 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York. By the end of the
‘70s, he had abandoned recording and turned entirely to live work.
Havens came back to records in 1987: a new album, Simple Things; an album of Bob Dylan and Beatles covers; and a
compilation. In 1991, Havens signed his first major-label deal in 15 years when
he moved to Sony Music and released his recording Now. He is an author writing “They Can’t Hide Us Anymore.” Between
book signings, Havens is plays several concerts and headed back to Woodstock
for the 30th anniversary. In 2002, he recorded his album Wishing Well and Havens still performs
concerts year round.
Edwin Starr was born on this date. He was an African-American
musician and entertainer.
Born Charles Hatcher in Nashville, Tennessee, his cousin was deep soul singer
and songwriter Roger Hatcher. He moved from Nashville as a child to Cleveland
where as a teen stated his own vocal group the Future Tones. In 1960, he went
into the Armed forces where he entertained troops around Europe. In 1962, after
completing military service he moved to Detroit, Michigan.
By the middle of the decade he was recording on the RicTic label under Ed
Wingate. He was recruited into the Bill Doggett combo where Doggett’s manager,
Don Briggs said that one day he was going to be a star. That’s when Edwin
recruited the name Starr to be his last name, and taking his middle name Edwin
for his first name. Starr first made his music reputation with “Agent
Double-O-Soul,” which hit the R&B Top Ten later in 1965, and just missed
the pop Top 20. Starr capitalized on the song’s novelty appeal by appearing
on-stage in a spy costume complete with toy gun, but proved he was no one-trick
pony by returning to the Top Ten a year later with “Stop Her on Sight
Then his contract was transferred to Motown, he instantly became one of the
roughest, toughest vocalists on the crossover-friendly label, with his debt to
James Brown and the Stax soul shouters. Contract negotiations took time, but
Starr rebounded with his biggest hit yet in 1969’s “25 Miles,” which reached
the Top Ten on both the pop and R&B charts. The follow-up, “I’m Still a
Struggling Man,” wasn’t as successful, and Starr was something of a forgotten
man for several months. He returned to the studio with producer Norman
Whitfield, who’d been reinventing the Temptations as a psychedelic soul group.
Whitfield had co-written a raucous anti-war protest song, “War,” for the Temps’
Psychedelic Shack LP. Whitfield re-did “War” with Starr, resulting in perhaps
the most provocative song Motown ever released. It zoomed to the top of the pop
charts in 1970, and its chorus driven by Starr’s throaty delivery remains a
catch phrase even today. The follow-up single, “Stop the War Now,” was
obviously copied, but made the R&B Top Five anyway, and Starr went on to
land another significant hit with “Funky Music Sho’ Nuff Turns Me On.” In 1974,
he did the soundtrack to the Blaxploitation film Hell Up in Harlem, a sequel to
the James Brown-scored Black Caesar (Brown had originally been scheduled to do
the follow-up). He charted again in 1975 with “Pain,” and left the label with
“Who’s Right or Wrong.” He found a new home on 20th Century in 1978.
Here he briefly reinvented himself as a disco singer, achieving with 1979’s
“Contact” and “H.A.P.P.Y. Radio.” Starr moved to the U.K. during the ‘80s,
recording a Marvin Gaye tribute album and a handful of singles until 1986. His
participation in the Ferry Aid charity project led to a deal with the
production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, but he didn’t take to their
high-tech dance-pop style and instead moved to Ian Levine’s Motown revival
label Motorcity until 1991. He worked on dance remakes of his past hits by Utah
Saints (“Funky Music”) and Three Amigos (“25 Miles”).
Edwin Starr died at his home near the central city of Nottingham, England on
April 2, 2003.
“Big Band” leader Count Basie and his Orchestra recorded their famous “One O’clock Jump” for Okeh Records in New York City. Prior to this,
in 1937 on this date, he recorded it for Decca Records.
Leslie Sebastien Charles was born in Fyzabad, Trinidad. He immigrated
to England at the age of eight and later became a popular singer known as “Billy Ocean.” He released hits such as “Suddenly,” “Caribbean
Queen,” “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” “When The Going Gets
Tough, The Tough Get Going” (which was featured in the movie, The Jewel Of The
Nile), and “To Make You Cry.”
this date, Eric Holder was born in New York City of
immigrant parents from Barbados. Attended Stuyvesant High School—one of New
York City’s top public high schools—and Columbia University. In 1993, nominated
by President Clinton and confirmed as U.S. Attorney for the District of
Columbia, the nation’s largest U.S. Attorney office. Four years later, became
Deputy Attorney General. He was the first black person to serve in both
positions. In 2009, after the historic election of President Barack Obama, the
first African American to be elected president of the United State, Holder
became first African American.
On this date, Ahmed Sékou Touré was elected to a seven-year term as
president of the Republic of Guinea. As leader of the PDG he was the only
candidate. He was reelected unopposed in 1968, 1974 and 1982. Every five years,
a single list of PDG candidates was returned to the National Assembly.
He remains an icon of liberation in the wider African community. Touré served
for some time as a representative of African groups in France, where he worked
to negotiate for the independence of France’s African colonies.
In 1958 Touré’s RDA section of the Democratic Party of Guinea-African
Democratic Rally (Parti Démocratique de Guinée-Rassemblement Démocratique
Africain) (PDG-RDA), a political party in Guinea, pushed for a “No” in the
French Union referendum sponsored by the French government, and was the only one
of France's African colonies to vote for immediate independence rather than
continued association with France. Guinea became the only French colony to
refuse to become part of the new French Community. In the event the rest of
Francophone Africa gained its independence only two years later in 1960, but
the French were extremely vindictive against Guinea: withdrawing abruptly,
taking files, destroying infrastructure, and breaking political and economic
In this year, he declared his PDG to be the only legal party. For the next 24
years, Touré effectively held all governing power in the nation.
During his presidency Touré led a strong policy based on Marxism, with the
nationalization of foreign companies and strong planned economics. He won the
Lenin Peace Prize as a result in 1961. Most of the opposition to his socialist
regime was arrested and jailed or exiled. His early actions to reject the
French and then to appropriate wealth and farmland from traditional landlords
angered many powerful forces, but the increasing failure of his government to
provide either economic opportunities or democratic rights angered more. While
still revered in much of Africa and in the Pan-African movement, many Guineans,
and activists of the Left and Right in Europe, have become critical of Touré's
failure to institute meaningful democracy or free media.
Opposition to single party rule grew slowly, and by the late 1960s those who
opposed his government faced fear of detention camps and secret police. His
detractors often had two choices—say nothing or go abroad. From 1965 to 1975 he
ended all his relations with France, the former colonial power. Touré argued
that Africa had lost much during colonization, and that Africa ought to
retaliate by cutting off ties to former colonial nations. Only in 1978, as
Guinea's ties with the Soviet Union soured, President of France Valéry Giscard
d'Estaing first visited Guinea as a sign of reconciliation.
Throughout his dispute with France, Guinea maintained good relations with several
socialist countries. However, Touré’s attitude toward France was not generally
well received, and some African countries ended diplomatic relations with
Guinea over the incident. Despite this, Touré's move won the support of many
anti-colonialist and Pan-African groups and leaders.
Touré’s primary allies in the region were Presidents Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and
Modibo Keita of Mali. After Nkrumah was overthrown in a 1966 coup, Touré
offered him a refuge in Guinea and made him co-president. As a leader of the
Pan-Africanist movement, he consistently spoke out against colonial powers, and
befriended leaders from the African diaspora such as Malcolm X and Stokely
Carmichael, to whom he offered asylum (and who took the two leaders names, as
Kwame Ture). He, with Nkrumah, helped in the formation of the All-African
Peoples Revolutionary Party, and aided the PAIGC guerrillas in their fight
against Portuguese colonialism in neighboring Portuguese Guinea. The Portuguese
launched an attack upon Conakry in 1970 in order to rescue Portuguese
Prisioners of War (POW), overthrow Touré's regime and destroy PAIGC bases. They
succeeded in everything but the overthrow.
Relations with the United States fluctuated during the course of Touré’s reign.
While Touré was unimpressed with the Eisenhower administration's approach to
Africa, he came to consider President John F. Kennedy a friend and an ally. He
even came to state that Kennedy was his “only true friend in the outside
world.” He was impressed by Kennedy’s interest in African development and
commitment to civil rights in the United States. Touré blamed Guinean labor
unrest in 1962 on Soviet interference and turned to the United States.
Relations with Washington soured, however, after Kennedy’s death. When a
Guinean delegation was imprisoned in Ghana, after the overthrow of Nkrumah,
Touré blamed Washington. He feared that the Central Intelligence Agency was
plotting against his own regime. Over time, Touré's increasing paranoia led him
to arrest large numbers of suspected political opponents and imprison them in
camps, such as the notorious Camp Boiro National Guard Barracks. Some 50,000
people are believed to have been killed under the regime of Touré in
concentration camps like Camp Boiro. Tens of thousands of Guinean dissidents
sought refuge in exile. Once Guinea’s rapprochement with France began in the
late 1970s, another section of his support, Marxists, began to oppose his
government's increasing move to capitalist liberalisation. In 1978 he formally
renounced Marxism and reestablished trade with the West.
Single-list elections for an expanded National Assembly were held in 1980.
Touré was elected unopposed to a fourth seven-year term as president on May 9,
1982. A new constitution was adopted that month, and during the summer Touré
visited the United States as part of an economic policy reversal that found
Guinea seeking Western investment to develop its huge mineral reserves.
Measures announced in 1983 brought further economic liberalization, including
the relegation of produce marketing to private traders.
Touré died on March 26, 1984 while undergoing cardiac treatment at the
Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
Akeem Abdul Olajuwon was born in Lagos, Nigeria on this
date. He became one of five boys born to his parents with one sister. He came
to the United States and played collegiate basketball for the University of
Houston. He was selected by the Houston Rockets in the first round (first pick
overall) of the 1984 NBA Draft. After twelve years of play in the NBA, he was selected
in 1996 as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Olajuwon will added an
“H” to his first name on March 9, 1991 and became an United States citizen on
April 2, 1993. The University of Houston retired his jersey, #34, on February
Carl T. Rowan, journalist, ambassador, and author, was named
director of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), a position that made him the
highest-ranking Black in the federal government, on this day. By virtue of his
position, he also becomes the first African American to sit on the National
Born August 11, 1925, in McMinnville, TN, Rowan received his B.A. from Oberlin
College in Ohio and earned his master’s degree in journalism from the
University of Minnesota. His career began in 1950 as a staff writer for the
Minneapolis Tribune. In 1961 he joined the U.S. Department of State in Washington,
D.C., as deputy assistant for public affairs. Later, he became the U.S.
ambassador to Finland before he joined the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) as
director. The USIA, which has merged with the State Department, functions
overseas and describes America’s actions and principle to the rest of the world
through TV, newspapers, information centers, and “The Voice of America” radio
network. Rowan wrote several books, including Wait Till Next Year, Between Us
Blacks, and Breaking Barriers, and went on to become a nationally syndicated
columnist. He died of natural causes on September 23, 2000.
Jam Master Jay was born on this date. He was an African-American
disc jockey, and musician specializing in Rap and Hip-Hop.
Jason William Mizell, (his birth name) was from the
Hollis section of Queens, New York and was a founding member of the pioneering
rap trio Run DMC. Mizell was the platinum-selling group’s disc jockey,
providing background for singers Joseph Simmons, better known as Run, and
Darryl McDaniels, better known as DMC. The group is widely credited with
helping bring hip-hop into music’s mainstream, including the group’s smash
collaboration with Aerosmith on the 1980s standard “Walk This Way” and hits
like “Peter Piper” and “It’s Tricky.” Uniquely, Run DMC and their songs were
never about violence.
In 1986, the trio said they were outraged by the rise of fatal gang violence in
the Los Angeles area. They called for a day of peace between warring street
gangs. “This is the first town where you feel the gangs from the minute you
step into town to the time you leave,” Mizell said at the time. The group
promoted education and unity. In “It’s Tricky,” they sang: “We are not thugs
(we don’t use drugs) but you assume (on your own); they offer coke (and lots of
dope) but we just leave it alone.”
Mizell said in a 2001 interview with MTV, “We always knew rap was for everyone,
anyone could rap over all kinds of music.” Jason Mizell was shot and killed on
October 30, 2002 at his recording studio near the New York neighborhood where
he grew up. Mizell was married and had three children. Doctor Dre, a New York radio
station DJ who had been friends with Mizell since the mid-1980s, said, “This is
not a person who went out looking for trouble. He’s known as a person that
builds, that creates and is trying to make the right things happen.”
Mizell often let local musicians record for free at the studio, and had
remained in Queens to give back to the community.
Twelve members of the Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the State of the Union
address of President Richard M. Nixon. The African-American representatives had
accused Nixon of a “consistent refusal” to respond to the needs of Black
Americans. Nixon would later be forced from office as a result of the Watergate
Blues guitar singer B.B. King donated his entire record collection
to the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
The collection included about 7,000 rare blues records he played when he worked
as a disc jockey in Memphis. Born Riley B. King, he called himself the “Beale
Street Blues Boy,” later shortened to “B.B.” B.B. King is considered one of the
most influential blues musicians in history.
Quincy Jones was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his
contribution to music as a trumpeter, composer, arranger, and record producer.
In 2001, he was given the rank of commander, becoming the first American-born
musician to be given the rank of commander after he was made a chevalier of the
Legion in 1990.
Dr. Rod Paige was confirmed as the Secretary of Education by the
U.S. Senate, becoming the first African-American to serve in that capacity.
At approximately 6:00 PM EST in Chicago’s Soldier Field, Lovie Smith became the first African-American to coach an NFL
team to win the George S. Halas Trophy for winning the National Football
Conference (NFC) that qualified for the Super Bowl when the Chicago Bears
defeated the New Orleans Saints 39–14 and, at approximately 10:00 PM EST, Tony Dungy became the second African-American head coach of an NFL team to
qualify for the Super Bowl when the Indianapolis Colts defeated the New England
Patriots 38–34 in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Dungy, thus became the first
African American NFL head coach to win the Lamar Hunt Trophy for the Colts
becoming the American Football Conference (AFC) Champions.
After taking 41 years, it wasn’t all that long ago that the NFL’s best jobs
were off-limits to blacks. Never mind that three-quarters of the league’s
rosters were filled with black players. There were qualified black assistants;
yet when the time came to hire a new coach, they were passed over, time and
again. Meanwhile, white coaches who had done little to distinguish themselves
in their previous two or three jobs got additional chances. It was the old
boy’s network based on race.
There’s been some progress over the last two decades and it took an active hand
by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue to move it along. Art Shell, Dennis
Green, Tony Dungy, and Herman Edwards, earlier coaches at the time, all paved
the way for Smith. Unfortunately for Smith, he and the Bears would go on to
lose the Super Bowl to Dungy who would become the first African American NFL
coach to win a Super Bowl.
On this date, about 50 white separatists protested the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in Jena, LA.
Police separated participants in the “pro-majority” rally organized by the
Learned, MS based Nationalist Movement from a racially mixed group of about 100
counter-demonstrators outside the LaSalle Parish Courthouse. There was no
violence and one arrest, a counter-demonstrator. Chants of “No KKK” from the
mostly college-age counter-demonstrators were met with a chant from the
separatists that contained a racial nickname.
At one point, dozens of state police forced back about 10 people, dressed in
New Black Panther uniforms, who had gathered around a podium where the
separatist group’s leader Richard Barrett was to speak. Race relations in Jena
(population about 2,800) have been in the news ever since six black teenagers
were arrested in the beating of a white classmate at Jena High School in