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1779
Myron Holley, an abolitionist and a founder of the Liberty Party, was born.


1781
The French captured Tobago from the Spanish, transforming it into a sugar-producing colony.


1820
Poet, lawyer, educator, and abolitionist George B. Vashon was born on this date. Vashon helped found Howard University and was instrumental in establishing its law school. He also wrote the narrative poem “Victor Oge.”


1845
Macon B. Allen and Robert Morris Jr., were the first Blacks to practice law, open practice. They opened their practice on May 3rd of that year in Massachusetts. Allen had previously practiced without a license in Maine.


1854
Ashmun lnstitute, later Lincoln University, was founded in Oxford, Pennsylvania. It was “the first institution founded anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for youth of African descent.” (This applies to the modern era).


1870
The birth of J. Edward Perry is celebrated on this date. He was an African-American Physician.

From Clarksville, Texas, Perry was born to former slaves who encouraged him to receive a good education. Perry graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1895. In 1903, Dr. Perry moved to Kansas City and opened an office. He and other local African-American physicians joined in their struggle to create professional hospitals for minority patients. At that time Kansas City was rigidly segregated and powerful people in the white medical community opposed Dr. Perry and his associates’ plans.

In 1910, Dr. Perry opened a private hospital, the Perry Sanitarium and Training School for Nurses. There he developed strong medical and pediatric units to serve the minority community. The sanitarium became Wheatley-Provident Hospital, a public institution, in 1916. The hospital served the community for the last 50 years of Dr. Perry’s life. Perry knew that hospitals were needed to train Black physicians and nurses and to provide quality health care to the Kansas City African-American community.

Because of his dedication, many African American doctors and nurses received quality training, and many patients’ lives were saved. He died in 1962.



1876
Empress Zewditu I of Ethiopia was born on this date as Askala Maryam in the city of Harrar in Enjersa Goro Province, Ethiopia. Her mother was Abechi, a Shewan noble woman and her father was Menelik II, at that point the king of Shewa and the future emperor of Ethiopia. She became the first woman head of an internationally recognized state in Africa in modern times. She ruled from 1916 – 1930. Empress Zewditu died on April 2, 1930.


1881
Julian Francis Abele was born on this date. He was an African-American architect.

From South Philadelphia, he was the son of Charles R. and Mary A. Abele. He was educated at the Institute for Colored Youth before entering the University of Pennsylvania in 1898. He was the first African-American to graduate from the Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts and Architecture in 1902. That year he was asked by Horace Trumbauer to join his firm, which had been exclusively white up to that point. Trumbauer sent Abele to Paris to study at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts.

By 1908, Abele was the chief designer in the firm of Horace Trumbauer & Associates and owns a list of buildings that is impressive. In addition to Widener Library, he designed Philadelphia’s Free Library and Museum of Art, the chapel and many other buildings of Trinity College in Durham, N.C. (which was later renamed Duke University) and the James B. Duke mansion on Fifth Avenue and 78th Street in New York City (now NYU’s Graduate Institute of Fine Arts). Abele’s role in the firm of Horace Trumbauer was neither a well-kept secret nor a well-publicized fact.

His talent was such that it made him chief designer at age 27, and paid him a salary of $12,000 per year in 1912 (which is over $250,000 in current dollars). Abele did not join the American Institute of Architects, however, until 1942; four years after the death of Trumbauer, at which time Abele became head of the firm. Abele never personally visited Duke University during any phase of construction or afterwards due to segregation. Yet, the archivist of Duke University in a letter to the editor of the Raleigh, NC News and Observer states it was well known by university personnel that the chief designer of the firm was African-American.

The histories of Widener Library to date only mention the firm of Horace Trumbauer and never make mention of Abele himself. It was Mrs. Widener’s choice of this Philadelphia firm to design the library that would bear the name of her son, and it is unclear whether she knew Abele or just Trumbauer. In any case, his work stands and society and scholarship are catching up in order to give him the proper credit he deserves. He also designed Philadelphia’s Museum of Art and the Free Library. Julian Abele died on April 23, 1950, after designing the Allen Administration Building at Duke University. He is considered the first major African-American architect in the United States.


1899
On this date, Edward “Duke” Kennedy Ellington was born. He was an African-American jazz composer, band leader, and pianist.

Born in Washington, D.C., into a middle-class family, he acquired the nickname “Duke” as a child
by a boyhood friend for his manners, clothing, and personality and who admired his hair. He had no initial interest in music. But while vacationing with his mother in Asbury Park, NJ, he heard of a hot pianist named Harvey Brooks. He sought out Brooks, who helped him improve as a pianist. Duke, later tutored by Oliver “Doc” Perry and Louis Brown, refined his overall piano-playing skills. Now inflamed with a passion for music, he began playing for friends and at parties and, in 1917, formed his first group, the Duke’s Serenaders. In 1923 Ellington moved to New York City, 4 years later Ellington began performing at The Cotton Club, the most prominent nightclub in the Harlem area of New York City at the time. His five-year tenure at the famed Cotton Club garnered him wide acclaim.

Scoring both his first musical and making his recording debut in 1924, Ellington became known as the first conventional jazz composer, although he also became renowned for his Sacred Concerts in the mid-1960’s.

In the late 1920s Ellington composed for and recorded with his 12-member orchestra such pieces as Black and Tan Fantasy, The Mooche, and Mood Indigo. Through recordings such as these and through radio broadcasts from The Cotton Club, Ellington gained a national and international reputation. In 1931 he took his band on its first tour of the United States. With his piece It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), Ellington anticipated the era when swing music and dancing became a national obsession in the United States.

After 1932 Ellington enlarged his orchestra to 14 members, and in 1939 he hired a gifted young American arranger, Billy Strayhorn, wrote one of the Ellington orchestra’s signature tunes, Take the ‘A’ Train. By 1940 Ellington’s band included some of the best American jazz instrumentalists. During this period his orchestra also recorded so-called tone poems, which anticipated the bebop style of 1940s jazz. In the late 1940s Ellington’s band, which generally maintained a remarkably stable membership, experienced a higher rate of turnover among musicians and went into creative and commercial decline.

In 1953 Ellington recorded the album Piano Reflections, on which some of his most enduring work as a pianist can be found. A religious man, Ellington began composing liturgical works (which he called sacred concerts) in the 1960s. Over the course of his career, Ellington wrote a number of pieces that became standards in the jazz repertory. During his lifetime, Ellington received hundreds of distinctions, including 11 Grammy Awards and 19 honorary doctorate degrees. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the United States and the Legion of Honor by France, the highest civilian honors in each country, respectively.

In 1988 the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., acquired his entire archive—200,000 pages of unpublished music and other documents—and made it available to researchers, musicians, and the general public. He is considered the greatest composer in the history of jazz music and one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. Unlike other great band leaders, Ellington personally created most of the music played by his orchestra. Ellington composed about 2001 works, including musical comedies, music for ballet and motion pictures, an opera, and numerous short songs and instrumentals.

He composed exclusively for his jazz big band, seeking out players with distinct musical styles. Beginning in the 1930s and throughout the remainder of his career, Ellington toured incessantly with his group, logging an estimated 16 million km (10 million mi) of travel and playing an estimated 20,000 performances throughout the United States and in 65 other nations around the world.


Spending over 50 years in show business, he went on to compose some of his other great works, including Rockin’ in Rhythm, New Orleans, Happy-Go-Lucky Local, Sophisticated Ladies, I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good, and Crescendo in Blue. Duke and his bands performed worldwide and collaborated with such greats as Miles Davis, Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Louis Armstrong. He died May 24, 1974.


1915
Donald Mills was born in Piqua, Ohio. With his brothers, Herbert, Harry and John, the Mills Brothers began performing in 1922 in their hometown and over time will sell an estimated 50 million records. The group broke racial barriers in the era of Jim Crow and sang before royalty in London. From the early 1930s onward, the Mills Brothers were a nationwide hit on radio and in record sales. In 1931, the song “Tiger Rag” sold 1 million copies. Some of their other hit songs include “You Always Hurt the One You Love,” “Glow Worm,” “Yellow Bird,” and “Paper Doll.” The brothers also appeared in several movies, including “The Big Broadcast” in 1932, and “Twenty Million Sweethearts” in 1934. Donald was the last surviving member of the group and toured in his later years with his youngest son, John, after his brothers retired in 1982. He accepted a Grammy Award for Life Achievement for the Mills Brothers in 1998. He died in 1999.


1922
Parren James Mitchell, a former Maryland Democratic congressman, who represented the 7th congressional district of Maryland, and founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, was born to Clarence M. Mitchell, Sr., a waiter, and Elise Davis Mitchell, a homemaker, on this date in Baltimore, MD.

Mitchell attended Baltimore public schools, graduating from Frederick Douglass Senior High School in 1940. From 1942-1945, he served in the United States Army, 92nd Infantry Division, during World War II and was a commissioned officer and company commander. During that time, he received a Purple Heart award. After the service, he went on to Morgan State College, graduating from there with an Associated Bachelor’s degree in 1950. After suing the, then segregated, University of Maryland for admission to their graduate school in 1950, he earned a Master’s Degree in 1952, making the first African American to do so.

He was an instructor of sociology at Morgan State during 1953-1954 and supervisor of probation work for the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City from 1954 to 1957. From 1963 to 1965 he was executive secretary of the Maryland Human Relations Commission overseeing implementation of the state’s public accommodations law. Mitchell was director of the Baltimore Community Action Agency, an anti-poverty program, from 1965 to 1968, when he returned to Morgan State as a professor of sociology and assistant director of its Urban Affairs Institute.

In 1969 he became President of the Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. Mitchell unsuccessfully challenged Seventh District Representative Samuel N. Friedel in the September 1968 Democratic primary, but defeated Friedel in their 1970 rematch and won the general election over Republican Peter Parker. He was sworn in as a member of the Ninety-second Congress on January 3, 1971, making him the first African American elected to Congress from the state of Maryland.
He served as a delegate to the Maryland State Democratic convention in 1972; and a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972. He was re-elected through 1987.

During his 16 year congressional career, he fought for affirmative action legislation. A member of the Committee on the Budget and the Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs Committee, Mitchell became chairman of the Committee on Small Business at the beginning of the Ninety-seventh Congress in 1981. Throughout his congressional career he directed many of his legislative efforts toward promoting minority-owned businesses.

He sought passage of legislation requiring a fixed percentage of the contracts for federal projects to be set aside for minority firms. In order to provide small business with more opportunity to procure contracts awarded by the Defense Department, he successfully fought to remove department limits on the number of companies permitted to bid for spare parts contracts.

Mitchell was a strong supporter of the Small Business Administration and opposed efforts to increase the interest rates for loans to small businesses and to reduce S.B.A. disaster loans. He opposed the establishment of a sub-minimum wage for people aged eighteen and younger, and called for strong sanctions banning all new investment by United States firms in South Africa.
As Chairman of the Small Business Committee, Mitchell attached an amendment to a $4 billion public works bill that compelled state and local governments, seeking federal grants, to set aside 10% of the funds to retain minority firms as contractors and subcontractors. He initiated a congressional investigation into Wedtech where bribes were alleged to have been offered in return for no bid military contracts. His nephews State Senators Clarence Mitchell III and Michael Mitchell ended up serving time in Federal prison for their parts in the scandal.

In 1980 he founded The Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (MBEFDEF) and presently services as Chairman of the Board.

In 1986 he retired from Congress and ran unsuccessfully for Lt. Governor of Maryland. He died on Memorial Day, May 28, 2007, at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, MD, reportedly from pneumonia. He was 85.


1922
Retired judge Harry Justin Elam was the first African American appointed to the Boston Municipal Court of Massachusetts. Subsequently, he became the Chief Justice of this court and later was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. Prior to his judgeship years, between 1971 and 1988, he was a prominent lawyer in the city of Boston from 1952 to 1971.

Judge Elam was born on this date in Boston, Massachusetts, the second child of five born to Robert H. and Blanche Lee Elam. A graduate of Boston Latin School, he attended Virginia State College between 1940 and 1942. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1942 to 1946 and earned an A.B. degree from Boston University in 1948 and his J.D. degree from Boston University’s Law School in 1951. In his early years of general law practice, Elam partnered with Edward W. Brooke, who went on to become a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, the first since Reconstruction.


As a judge in both the municipal and state courts, Harry Elam maintained a deep and sensitive connection to Boston’s neighborhoods. He saw the reduction of adult and juvenile crime as a responsibility of those leading the court system and so he linked himself and fellow jurists with social, cultural, and political issues in his community. He was the founder and first president of the Massachusetts Black Judges Conference. He was the founder and first president of the Roxbury Multi-Service Center, serving twelve years as the Center’s president. He also chaired the board of directors of the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts for ten years.

Judge Elam’s signature community project was Project Commitment. He served as its creator and chair for twelve years. This project brought Black judges and lawyers into public school classrooms to mentor youth. His most coveted recognition is one received in 1983, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award presented jointly by two of Boston’s venerable Black Episcopal churches.



1923
Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore, a founder and co-founder of the many major business institutions of insurance, banking, and health in the Hayti community of Durham, NC, died on this date.


1927
On this date, Big Jay McNeeley was born Cecil James McNeely in Watts, Los Angeles, California. He is an American rhythm and blues saxophonist, known as the King of the Honking Tenor Sax.

Inspired by Illinois Jacquet and Lester Young, he teamed with his older brother Robert McNeely, who played baritone saxophone, and made his first recordings with drummer Johnny Otis, who ran the Barrelhouse Club that stood only a few blocks from McNeely’s home. Shortly after he performed on Otis’s “Barrel House Stomp,” Ralph Bass, A&R man for Savoy Records, promptly signed him to a recording contract. Bass’s boss, Herman Lubinsky, suggested the stage name Big Jay McNeely because Cecil McNeely did not sound commercial. McNeely’s first hit was “The Deacon’s Hop,” which topped the Billboard R&B chart in early 1949.

Thanks to his flamboyant playing, called “honking,” McNeely remained popular through the 1950s and into the early 1960s, recording for the Exclusive, Aladdin, Imperial, Federal, Vee-Jay, and Swingin’ labels. But despite a hit R&B ballad, “There Is Something on Your Mind,” (1959) featuring Little Sonny Warner on vocals, and a 1963 album for Warner Bros. Records, McNeely’s music career began to cool off. He quit the music industry in 1971 to become a postman. However, thanks to an R&B revival in the early 1980s, McNeely left the post office and returned to touring and recording full time, usually overseas. His original tenor sax is enshrined in the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and he was inducted into The Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.


The honkers were known for their raucous stage antics and expressive, exhibitionist style of playing. They overblew their saxophones and often hit on the same note over and over, much like a black Southern preacher, until their audiences were mesmerized. The style began with Illinois Jacquet’s lively solo on Lionel Hampton’s smash 1942 hit “Flying Home.” Jacquet refined the honking technique in 1944 on the first Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in Los Angeles. Among the other saxophonists who started having honking hits in the late 1940s were Hal Singer (with the number one R&B hit “Cornbread”, Lynn Hope, Joe Houston, Wild Bill Moore, Freddie Mitchell, and many more.

McNeely was credited with being the most flamboyant performer. He wore bright banana- and lime-colored suits, played under black lights that made his horn glow in the dark, used strobe lights as early as 1952 to create an “old-time-movie” effect, and sometimes walked off the stage and out the door, usually with the club patrons following along behind. At one point, in San Diego, police arrested him on the sidewalk and hauled him off to jail, while his band kept playing on the bandstand, waiting for him to return. The honking style was fading somewhat by the early 1950s, but the honkers themselves suddenly found themselves providing rousing solos for doo wop groups; an example was Sam “The Man” Taylor’s eight-bar romp on The Chords’ 1954 “Sh-Boom.” Bill Haley also used honking sax men Joey D’Ambrosio and Rudy Pompilli on his rock and roll records, including “Rock Around the Clock.” However, the rise of the electric guitar essentially ended the dominance of the tenor sax in rock and roll by 1956.



1928
Carl Edward Gardner was born in Tyler, Texas. He became the first original Coaster in late September or early October 1955 and stayed with the group and became the Coasters’ spokesman for over fifty years. He led such Coasters classics as “Down In Mexico”, “One Kiss Led To Another”, “Young Blood”, “Idol With The Golden Head”, “Dance!”, “Three Cool Cats”, “Sexy”, “That Is Rock & Roll”, “Bad Blood”, “Love Potion Number Nine” and “Cool Jerk” among others. His happy clear tenor also played the most important role in the Coasters´ famous unison sung hits “Yakety Yak”, “Charlie Brown”, “Along Came Jones”, “Poison Ivy”, “I´m A Hog For You”, and “What About Us”. He moved with the Coasters to New York in 1958. He finally settled in Port St. Lucie, Florida in 1990.


1934
Otis Rush was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He became a blues musician and helped to shape Chicago’s West Side blues sound.


1944
G.I. Jive” by Louis Jordan charted, reaching #1 R&B for six weeks as well as #1 pop for two. Jordan’s recording’s hold the R&B record for most weeks at #1, an astounding 113 weeks.


1945
Tammi Terrell was born on this date. She was an African-American Rhythm & Blues singer.

She was born
Thomasina Montgomery in Philadelphia, PA. After winning a number of local talent contest, by the age of 13 she was regularly opening club dates for Gary “U.S.” Bonds, and Patti LaBelle and the BlueBelles. In 1961 at the age of 15 she was discovered by producer Luther Dixon and signed to Specter/Wand Records. Credited as Tammy Montgomery, she made her debut with the song “If You See Bill”.

In 1963, after James Brown caught her live show, she was signed to his Try Me label, issuing “I Cried.” One year later while touring with Brown’s live revue “If I Would Marry You” appeared on Checker during which time she also studied Pre-Med at the University of Pennsylvania. While performing with Jerry Butler in Detroit in 1965, Terrel was spotted by Harvey Fuqua and was introduced to Motowns’s Berry Gordy Jr. making her label debut with “I can’t Believe You Love Me” and other songs followed with “This Old Heart of Mine” and “Come on and See Me”.

In 1967, Terrell was paired with Marvin Gaye who previously recorded with Mary Wells and Kim Weston. His chemistry with Terrell was immediate, and that year they entered the pop charts with the magnificent songs “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, and “Your Precious Love. Later in 1967, Terrell began to have severe migraine headaches and she collapsed in Gaye’s arms while in concert at Virginia’s Hampton-Sydney University, she was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Although the tumor forced Terrell to retire from performing live, she continued to record with Gaye and Her own album “Irresistible” in 1968. In 1969, Terrell’s health was beginning to decline and she could not finish her and Gaye’s third duet recording, Valerie Simpson sang on most of the recordings on the “Easy” album. The way that they sang together created an aura of romance and eroticism that led to persistent rumors that they were lovers. In All, Terrell endured eight operations, ultimately resulting in loss of memory and partial paralysis; she died on March 16, 1970.

Her burial service attracted thousands of mourners including many of her Motown Colleagues. Tammi Terrell was a contemporary vocal legend. Terrell and Gaye created some of the greatest love songs ever to emerge from Motown hit factory.



1950
Johnny Otis & His Orchestra jumped on the R&B charts with “Cry Baby,” reaching #6. The vocals were done by Mel Walker & the Bluenotes (not Harold Melvin’s group).


1956
To capitalize on Elvis Presley’s revival hit of “Money, Honey,” Atlantic Records reissued Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters’ three-year-old original in both the pop and R&B markets.


1957
“The Negro disk jockey, once considered a rarity on the nation’s airwaves, has become almost commonplace in this day and age,” Ellis Waters stated today in the New Negro men’s magazine, Duke. The writer continued: “There are now more than 500 Negro platter spinners on the air across the nation.” He described disc jockeying as the “newest Negro industry,” a $250 million annual business.


1957
Congress enacted the first Civil Rights Act since Reconstruction, establishing a Civil Rights Commission to investigation violations of voting rights based on race, national origin, or religion.


1960
Sam Cooke began a week’s engagement at New York’s Apollo Theater.


1967
Cindy Birdsong (Patti LaBelle & the Blue Belles) made her stage debut as a replacement for Florence Ballard in the Supremes at the Hollywood Bowl in a benefit concert for the UCLA School of Music. Also performing was the Fifth Dimension.


1967
Mrs. Robert W. Clayton was elected president of the YWCA, the first African American president of the organization.


1967
On this date, Aretha Franklin releases “Respect.”


April 29–30, 1968

The Poor People’s Campaign began in Washington, D.C. with Ralph D. Abernathy, SCLC President, leading delegate of the leaders representing poor Whites, Blacks, Indians, and Spanish-Americans to Capitol Hill for conferences with cabinet members and congressional leaders. Dr. Abernathy declared that “the poor are no longer divided. We are not going to let the white man put us down anymore. It’s not white power, and I’ll give you some news, it’s not black power, either. It’s poor power and we’re going to use it.”


1972
On this date, though little information is available on the exact circumstances, reportedly at the behest of President Michel Micombero of Burundi, King Ntare V Ndizeye, the former king of Burundi, was executed at the Ibwami royal palace in Gitega. Prior to that, in November, 1966, Micombero had deposed Ntare in a military coup, to which Ntare fled to West Germany only to return to Burundi in April 1972. It may be poetic justice as Ntare, on July, 1966, had deposed his father Mwambutsa IV.


1977
Alex P. Haley won the Pulitzer Prize for Roots on this date.


1983
Harold Washington, lawyer, politician, was sworn in as Chicago’s 42nd and first Black mayor. The election of Washington was a major political change for the city of Chicago, once called the most segregated city in America. Washington won the Democratic primary and the general election as a largely anti-organization independent. His candidacy encouraged Blacks throughout the country to register to vote. A Chicago native, Washington had served 16 years in the Illinois legislature and 2 years in the U.S. Congress. As mayor, he overcame the ensuing City Council battles and took the reins of Chicago’s $52 billion city budget. During his tenure, he left a record of appointing Blacks to top city government positions historically held by Whites and increasing minority business opportunities. He died on November 25, 1987, at age 65 following a heart attack seven months after re-election to his second term in office.


April 29–May 6, 1985
Col. Frederick Gregory, the first Black astronaut, piloted the space shuttle Challenger (STS-51B). A veteran of three Shuttle missions he has logged over 455 hours in space. Subsequent Space Shuttle missions were as the spacecraft commander on STS-33 (November 22-27, 1989) and STS-44 (November 24 to December 1, 1991). In the 1989 mission, Gregory became the first African-American Shuttle commander aboard STS-33. His crew deployed a Department of Defense satellite


1992
On this date The Los Angeles (Rodney King) Riot (or LA Rebellion, as some sources have called it) began. One of the first major urban insurrections in the United States after the 1960s, this riot shocked many Americans who had come to believe that the days of explosive racial tensions were behind them.

Like Los Angeles’ Watts Riot of 1965, the 1992 rioting was sparked by an act of anti-Black police brutality. On March 3, 1991,
four white police officers in Los Angeles, California, stopped a car driven by a 34-year-old African-American named Rodney King, who, they said, was speeding. According to the officers, King emerged from his automobile in an aggressive manner that suggested he might have been high on drugs. Before handcuffing King, the police delivered some 56 blows and kicks and a number of shocks from a stun gun to the fallen body of the suspect.

A bystander captured the beating on videotape and within two days the footage was being broadcast on national television. King brought charges of brutality against four of the policemen. The officers, who claimed they acted in self-defense, were tried before a predominantly white jury in a white middle-class suburb of Los Angeles. On this date, all four men were acquitted. Within two and a half hours of the verdict, a crowd of furious protesters gathered at the corner of Florence and Normandie Streets in South Central Los Angeles and through the next day and night rioting exploded across 50 square miles. At the same time, smaller disturbances were erupting in cities such as San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

President George H.W. Bush called in 4,500 National Guard and United States Army troops to quell the rioting, which ended on Friday, May 1. In three days of turbulence,
53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damages to 3,100 businesses, about 17,000 arrested , and nearly $1 billion in financial losses. Unlike race riots of the 1960s, the 1992 uprising resulted in considerable Black-on-Black violence as well as the looting of many Black-owned shops. Korean shopkeepers were also prime targets of the rioters’ rage, as one minority community attacked another. Writing about the riot in a 1992 essay “Learning to Talk of Race,” philosopher Cornel West suggested, “what we witnessed in Los Angeles was the consequence of a lethal linkage of economic decline, cultural decay, and political lethargy in American life. Race was the visible catalyst, not the underlying cause.”

On May 1, 1992, the third day of the L.A. riots, King appeared in public before television news cameras to appeal for calm, asking:

“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids?...It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ll, we’ll get our justice....Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to work it out.”

In a 1992 interview with the journal Covert Action Information Bulletin, labor historian Mike Davis offered a similar opinion, calling the riot “a hybrid social revolt with three major dimensions. It was a revolutionary democratic protest characteristic of African-American history when the major institutions have thwarted demands for equal rights. It was also a major postmodern bread riot—an uprising of not just poor people but particularly of those strata of poor in southern California who’ve been most savagely affected by the recession [of the early 1990s]. Thirdly it was an inter-ethnic conflict—particularly the systematic destroying and uprooting of Korean stores in the Black community.”

The 1992 riot represented a rude awakening for many Americans, who had assumed that after two relatively quiet decades, the days of large-scale urban race riots were a thing of the past. Note that two of the cops were later convicted on federal civil rights charges.



1994
Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from the terror of ethnic massacres in Rwanda began pouring into Tanzania.


2001
Arthur Walker, who captured the sun’s corona on camera, died. In 1987 he produced the first detailed shots of the sun’s outer atmosphere, explosions of heat and light hitherto invisible to scientists.


2008
On this date, Presidential Candidate Barack Hussein Obama renounced the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor, for comments made in an Internet viral video in which it was taken from context that Rev. Wright blasted “God damn America.” This statement by Rev. Wright was obviously made in reference to American storied and tragic past of racial discrimination, hatred, and bigotry. Also in Obama’s race for the presidency in a very similar vein, Michele Obama, the future African American First Lady, was round criticized by people of the political right for saying, of her husband’s very successful campaign, that “for the first time [she} was proud of her country.” These comments were unduly taken by those of the political right to denote and infer that these and the ideals of African Americans in general, most of whom have or had been victims, in one way or another, of racial discrimination, hatred, and bigotry during their lifetimes.


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