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Christopher Columbus convinced Queen Isabella to finance his expedition to the West Indies.

Slavery was established in Quebec of New France (which is now Canada) by the French through a royal mandate issued by Louis XIV. This mandate not only gave permission to “Canadians to avail themselves of the services of African slaves”, but declared as well that all negroes who had been so bought or held should belong to the person so owning them, in full proprietorship. This system was given further legal recognition through a number of royal declarations regarding slavery and slaves in 1721, 1742 and 1745, making it possible for slaves to be listed often with “effects and merchandise” in parish records, legal notices and the official documents of the times. As time passed it was not unusual to see ads appear in the newspaper for slaves.

As part of the Seven Years’ War, after a six month long battle by the British to capture Guadeloupe from the French, which began on January 22, 1759, the French governor Nadau du Treil to capitulate and formal surrender of the island to British Colonel John Barrington, a junior British officer. This was just days before a large French relief force arrived under Admiral Maximin de Bompart. The British the occupied Guadeloupe, West Indies until 1763. This is import to Black History because of the lucrative sugar trade of the West Indies work by African slaves.

James Durham (some sources say Derham) was born into slavery in Philadelphia. (Note that some sources cite his birthday as May 2nd.) Durham is recognized as one of the earliest black physicians. He was held in the highest regard by many medical practitioners of his era and by the leading physician of the period, Dr. Benjamin Rush. Durham’s medical skill was acknowledged by his contemporaries, and his medical practice was profitable enough to provide him with a comfortable life in New Orleans. As an expert on the throat and diseases common in New Orleans and the surrounding area, he treated patients from different social and economic backgrounds. James Durham contributed to the abolitionist movement and to the legacy of American civil rights and culture.

When he was a child he became the property of Dr. James Kearsley, Jr., an expert on sore throat diseases. Durham learned how to mix medicines and how to care for patients on a small scale as an assistant to Kearsley. In this way, Durham had a medical apprenticeship that was the same as the medical training most of the 3,500 American trained physicians experienced. Durham left Kearsley when the latter was arrested for his Loyalist leanings and imprisoned for treason during the American Revolutionary War. Kearsley died in prison in 1777. During the American Revolutionary War, Durham continued to work in medicine, performing menial tasks for a new owner, George West, a surgeon linked to the Sixteenth British Regiment.

Durham’s apprenticeship continued with different masters until Dr. Robert Dow (Dove), a Scottish physician of New Orleans, became his owner. Durham impressed Dow with his knowledge of medicine and continued to learn a great deal as a medical assistant to the Scottish physician. Durham worked for Dow for a couple of years until he bought his freedom just before his twenty-first birthday. His freedom cost him approximately five hundred pesos which he paid in small amounts to Dow, who afterward became his patron. James Durham served the mulatto and black residents of New Orleans as well as some of the prominent white residents of the city. He earned up to $3,000 a year, a significant amount, by the time he was in his mid-20s.

Gains Professional Recognition
In 1788, at the age of twenty-six, Durham traveled to Philadelphia where he was baptized by Bishop White of the Episcopal Church and where he met Dr. Benjamin Rush, the renowned American physician. He was married without children when he met Rush. Durham may have been traveling to meet with abolitionist groups when he visited Philadelphia since he was active in the abolitionist movement and secretary of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery. At their first meeting, Rush was impressed with Durham’s medical knowledge and praised him for his language skills, for at the time Durham spoke both French and Spanish.

The meeting in Philadelphia could have been prearranged. Rush, an abolitionist, may have been interested in interviewing Durham, since abolitionists in America and abroad had agreed to distribute information about intelligent blacks as a means of changing the belief that the Negro was inferior and lacking in intelligence. In Philadelphia, Durham was introduced to Rush’s family, his academic colleagues, and his friends. He became somewhat of a personality in Philadelphia. After their initial meeting Rush and Durham corresponded with each other for many years.

Medical apprenticeship

Purchased freedom

Met Dr. Benjamin Rush

Moved to Philadelphia from New Orleans

James Durham was a courageous and a dedicated physician. During the yellow fever epidemic of the late eighteenth century, he worked long hours with the sick. During the diphtheria outbreak in the 1780s he mixed medicines to fight the disease. Apparently, his career progressed without much interruption until 1801 when city commissioners in New Orleans decided to restrict the activities of persons practicing medicine without medical degrees. According to Betty L. Plummer they wrote, “Among those prohibited from ‘treating persons in the city because they are not physicians’ was the free Negro[s] Derum [sic].” The commission did, however, allow him to provide care for throat ailments only. Durham apparently cooperated with the decree and worked with Dow on the patients he was not allowed to treat independently. Yet Durham was concerned about the restriction. Plummer’s article on Durham’s correspondence to Benjamin Rush indicates that he asked about the opportunity of earning a living in Philadelphia. On May 20, 1801 he wrote to Dr. Rush, “Sir if you think I can get a living in Philadelphia for I want to leave New Orleanes [sic] and come and live in the states.” Durham eventually set up a practice in Philadelphia and continued to have a successful medical practice and career.

The state of Virginia passed a law requiring freed slaves to move out of the state.

A party of slaves led by William Wells Brown crossed Lake Erie and reached freedom in Canada.

The Confederate Congress passed a resolution which branded African American troops and their officer’s criminals. This resolution declared that black Union soldiers would be “dealt with according to the present or future law of such State or States” which was, in effect, a death sentence.

The two-day Memphis, TN race riots, one of the most savage events immediately following the Civil War, began. 3 White Democrats and police attacked freedmen and their white allies.

When it was over, former Confederate soldiers, angered by the loss of the Civil War and the new status for Blacks, killed 46 Blacks with Negro veterans as special targets and two of their white liberal supporters. They further raped five Black women and torched more than 90 homes, 12 schools, and 4 churches. In all, More than seventy were wounded.  In support of the rebel soldiers, local police arrested hundreds of Blacks and not the whites who were rioting. However, the savage nature of the rioting in Memphis (and a similar disturbance in New Orleans) prompted Congress to pass radical Reconstruction to aid Blacks, a Civil Rights bill, and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing citizenship and equal protection to former slaves.

The American Equal Rights Association (AERA), also known as the Equal Rights Association, was formed on this date. It was an organization formed by women’s rights and black rights activists. Its goal was to join the cause of sexual equality with that of racial equality. Tensions between proponents of the dissimilar goals caused the AERA to split apart in 1869.

Howard University opened in Washington, DC on this date. First students enter the newly chartered university. Named for General Oliver O. Howard, Dr. Mordecai W. Johnson became Howard’s first Black president from 1926-1956.

Reconstruction officially began in the former Confederate states with the registering of Black and white voters in the South. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan ordered registration to begin in Louisiana on May 1 and to continue until June 30. Registration began in Arkansas in May. Other states followed in June and July. By the end of October, 1,363,000 citizens had registered in the South, including 700,000 Blacks. Black voters constituted a majority in five states: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.

Moses Fleetwood Walker became the first African American in the Major Leagues when he played for the Toledo Blue Stockings against the Louisville Eclipse of the American Association which is now considered to be a major league by most baseball historians. A catcher, he went 0-for-3 in his debut, allowing 2 passed balls and committing 4 errors, as his team bowed to Louisville 5-1. He did better in 41 subsequent games before injuries force Toledo to release him in late September. In July, he was joined by his brother Welday, an outfielder. Racial bigotry prevented his return to major league ball. No other African American player was to ever appear in a major league uniform until Jackie Robinson in 1947.

Lucy Parsons, her husband and her two children led 80,000 protesters down Michigan Avenue in Chicago in the world’s first May Day celebration.

Sterling Allen Brown was born on this date. He was an African-American English professor and literary critic whose poetry was rooted in folklore sources and Black dialect.

He was born in Washington, DC, the son of a professor at Howard University. His father, Reverend Sterling Nelson Brown, had been born a slave but after the Civil War, he managed to attend Fisk University and Oberlin College, became a pastor, and later a professor of religion at Howard. His mother was also a graduate of Fisk University.

After graduating from Dunbar High School at 17, he received an academic scholarship to Williams College, where he studied traditional literature, but also explored blues and jazz music—still considered to be illegitimate. Brown graduated Williams in 1922 Phi Beta Kappa, and with a scholarship entered graduate school and received his Master’s degree from Harvard University in 1923.

He became an English teacher at Virginia Theological Seminary, a position he held for the next three years. His teaching career encompassed positions at several universities, including Lincoln University and Fisk University, before returning to Howard in 1929. He became a professor there for forty years. He taught and wrote about African American literature and folklore.

While he was teaching, he also began collecting folk songs and stories from Blacks. As the people he met also served as the subject of the poetry, he then began to write. In 1929, Brown began a 40-year teaching career at Howard, and in 1932 his first volume of poetry, “Southern Road,” was published. Musical forms, especially ballads, work songs, spirituals, and blues, were primary influences on his work.

As critic, essayist, and “Opportunity” magazine columnist, he supported realistic writing and harshly attacked literature that distorted Black life. In 1937, he published the pioneering studies “Negro Poetry and Drama” and “The Negro in American Fiction.” In 1941, he was coeditor of “The Negro Caravan,” an anthology of African-American writing.

In 1969, he retired from his faculty position at Howard University and turned full time to poetry. At a time when White writers had distorted Black dialect into a stereotype, he boldly used authentic dialect and phonetic spelling in his poems. Though “Southern Road” was widely praised, Brown found no publisher for his second collection, “No Hiding Place”; it eventually was incorporated into his “Collected Poems” (1980).

He died on January 13, 1989. Thought most of his major work was written by the mid-1940s; two decades later, students inspired a widespread revival of interest in his work, much of which was subsequently reprinted.

Oliver W. Hill, Sr., an African-American attorney and activist, was born on this date.

Hill was born as Oliver White in Richmond, VA. His parents separated while he was still a baby, and he took his stepfather’s last name. His family moved to Roanoke and then to Washington, D.C., where he graduated from Dunbar High School. He earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University and graduated from Howard University’s School of Law in 1933. During this time, Hill was a classmate and close friend of future Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall. He graduated second only to Marshall in his class.

He began practicing law in Richmond in 1939. In 1940, working with fellow attorneys Thurgood Marshall, William H. Hastie, and Leon A. Ranson, Hill won his first civil rights case. The decision in Alston v. School Board of Norfolk, Va., gained pay equity for Black teachers. In 1943, Hill joined the United States Army, and served in the European Theatre of World War II.

Hill was a civil rights lawyer who was at the forefront of the legal effort that desegregated public schools. He won the right for equal transportation for schoolchildren in the Virginia Supreme Court. In 1949, he became the first African American on the City Council of Richmond since Reconstruction.

In the early 1950s, Hill was co-counsel in dozens of civil rights lawsuits in Virginia. In 1951, he took up the cause of the African-American students at the segregated R. R. Moton High School in Farmville, who had walked out of their black school because of deplorable conditions. The subsequent lawsuit, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, later became one of the five cases decided under the landmark Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954.

During this time his and his family’s safety were threatened by his work. The Hill family experienced a barrage of telephoned threats and at one point a cross was burned on their lawn. Hill and his clients continued to wage legal battles, nevertheless. But it would be more than ten years before many school districts in Virginia were significantly integrated, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision against freedom of choice plans in the Green v. School Board of New Kent County case of 1968. The Hill, Tucker and Marsh law firm continued civil rights litigation until Hill retired in 1998.

Hill’s accomplishments have earned many awards and citations including the 1959 “Lawyer of the Year Award” from the National Bar Association, the “Simple Justice Award” from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in 1986, and the American Bar Association “Justice Thurgood Marshall Award” in 1993. President Bill Clinton awarded Hill the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” in 1999. Students at the University of Virginia also honored him when they founded the Oliver W. Hill Black Pre-Law Association.

In 2000, he received the American Bar Association Medal, and the National Bar Association “Hero of the Law” award. That same year, he and other NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyers were honored with the “Harvard Medal of Freedom” for their role in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. In 2005, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest honor. He was also a renowned member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. In Richmond,, a bronze bust of him is visible at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. The city’s Oliver Hill Courts Building was named for him.

In 2005, Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner dedicated a newly renovated building in Virginia’s Capitol Square in his honor. The Oliver W. Hill Building is the first state-owned building as well as the first in Virginia’s Capitol Square to be named for an African American. His autobiography, “The Big Bang: Brown v. Board of Education: The Autobiography of Oliver W. Hill, Sr.,” edited by Professor Jonathan K. Stubbs, was published in 2000. Oliver Hill died peacefully during breakfast on August 5, 2007, at his home in Richmond, at the age of 100 years old.

Archie Williams was born on this date. He was an African-American athlete and teacher.

Born in Oakland, CA, Williams attended San Mateo Junior College (now College of San Mateo). His coach, Dr. Oliver Byrd, was instrumental in preparing him for future achievements. Soon Williams transferred to the University of California-Berkeley to become a mechanical engineer. He continued to run track.

In 1936, while still in college, Williams kept lowering his track times and reached his peak speed at the NCAA championships, setting a world 400-meter record of 46.1. His time was set in the preliminaries and he also prevailed in the final for a 47.0 victory. He followed that up with a first in the Olympic Trials, then went to Berlin and won the Olympic gold medal in the 400. A serious leg injury ended his running career a year later but he became a commercial pilot. During World War II, Williams was a pilot in the Air Force and retired from the military 22 years later as a lieutenant colonel.

A flight instructor while in the Air Force, Williams remained in education following his military retirement and taught mathematics and computers in California high schools. Archie Williams was a Drake teacher for 21 years until his retirement at age 72. His love for teaching and helping students was legendary. Archie Williams died on June 24, 1993 at age 78.

Prime Minister Louis Botha led the South African army in the occupation of South-West Africa (now Namibia) just after the First World War started.

On this date, “Big Maybelle” Smith was born. She was an African-American singer with a powerful voice and a stage presence to match.

Maybelle Louis Smith in Jackson, TN, to Frank Smith and Alice Easley, she grew up singing in the local Sanctified Church choir in Jackson. Full-figured and commanding, “Big” Maybelle sang the blues with controlled abandon and a flair for style. In 1932, she won first prize at the Cotton Carnival singing cabaret in Memphis, then toured with an all-female band called the Sweethearts of Rhythm. They played at dances from Mississippi to Indiana.

From 1936 to 1940, she toured with the Christine Chatman Orchestra, and in 1944, she recorded with Christine on the Decca Label. During the 1950s, Maybelle sang with The Quincy Jones Orchestra, the Kelly Owens Orchestra, and the Danny Mendelsohn Orchestra. She made the stage of the Apollo Theater in NYC and the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Maybelle hit the charts in 1953 when “Gabbin’ Blues,” which hit number three that year. Although she had several more chart-makers, Maybelle was never able to achieve the stardom that her talent deserved.

At her best, she was so strong that Billie Holiday once refused to follow her opening act. Maybelle struggled with a heroin habit that later debilitated her. From the late 1960s, she performed sporadically. Big Maybelle died in 1971 of a diabetic coma.

Evelyn Boyd Granville, a mathematician, teacher, and scientist, was born on this date in Washington, D.C.

She attended a then-segregated Dunbar High School, and was encouraged in the subject by two of her mathematics teachers. Granville attended Smith College on a partial scholarship. In 1945, she graduated summa cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She worked with Einar Hille, a distinguished mathematician in the field of functional analysis, as her Ph.D. faculty advisor at Yale University.

Granville received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale in 1949, the same year Marjorie Lee Browne received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Michigan. They were the first Black women to receive doctorates in mathematics in the United States. From there, Granville spent a year researching at the New York University Institute of Mathematics and was a part-time instructor in the math department of New York University (NYU). In 1950, Professor Granville was appointed as Associate Professor of Mathematics at Fisk University, Nashville, where two of her former students, Vivienne Malone Mayes and Etta Zuber Falconer, went on to receive Ph.D.s in mathematics. She served there until 1952.

After two years of teaching, Granville went to work for the Diamond Ordnance Fuze Laboratories as an applied mathematician. In 1956, she worked for IBM on the Project Vanguard and Project Mercury space programs, analyzing orbits and developing computer procedures. During that time, in southern California, Granville met the Reverend Gamaliel Mansfield Collins, a minister in the community church. They were married in 1960, and made their home in Los Angeles, but the marriage ended in divorce. In Los Angeles, Granville had taken a job at the Computation and Data Reduction Center of the U.S. Space Technology Laboratories, studying rocket trajectories and methods of orbit computation.

In 1962, she became a research specialist at the North American Aviation Space and Information Systems Division, working on celestial mechanics, trajectory and orbit computation, numerical analysis, and digital computer techniques for the Apollo program. The following year she returned to IBM as a senior mathematician. In 1967, Granville began teaching at California State University in Los Angeles.

But she also began working to improve mathematics education at all levels. She taught an elementary school supplemental mathematics program in 1968 and 1969 through the State of California Miller Mathematics Improvement Program. The following year she directed a mathematics enrichment program that provided after-school classes for kindergarteners through fifth grade students, and she taught grades two through five.

In 1970, Granville married Edward V. Granville, a real estate broker. After her 1984 retirement from UCLA, they moved to a 16-acre farm in Texas. From 1985 to 1988, Granville taught mathematics and computer science at Texas College in Tyler. In 1990, she was appointed to the Sam A. Lindsey Chair at the University of Texas at Tyler. Smith College awarded Granville an honorary doctorate, in 1989, the first Black woman mathematician to receive such an honor from an American institution.

Granville’s relationships with professional and service organizations and boards include the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the American Association of University Women, where she focused on education and mathematics. Other organizations include the U.S. Civil Service Panel of Examiners of the Department of Commerce, and the Psychology Examining Committee of the Board of Medical Examiners of the State of California.

On this date, Little Walter was born. He was an African-American blues singer and harmonica player, one of the most influential harmonica improvisers of the late 20th century.

Marion Walter Jacobs was born in Marksville, Louisiana, where he was raised on a farm. Little Walter began playing harmonica in childhood, and by the time he was 12 he was playing for a living on New Orleans street corners and in clubs. While he was still in his teens, he gradually worked northward, settling in Chicago about 1946; there he began recording in 1947, and played in Muddy Waters’ blues band (1948-52). After Little Walter’s 1952 harmonica solo “Juke” became a popular record, he successfully led his own bands in Chicago and on tours. In the 1960s, alcoholism curtailed his career, and he died following a street fight.

Little Walter was one of the major figures in postwar Chicago blues. Influenced by guitarists as well as by senior harmonica players, he brought a singular variety of language to the blues harmonica. His solos were cleverly crafted, alternating riffs with flowing lines; he was a pioneer of playing a harmonica directly into a hand-held microphone and he developed expressive techniques to enhance his playing. Though his vocal range was small, his singing often emulated Waters’ style.

His most popular recording was “My Babe,” and his finest work included “Sad Hours,” “Off the Wall,” and “Can’t Hold out Much Longer.” Little Walter died on February 15, 1968 in Chicago, Ill.

Ollie Matson, NFL halfback, Cardinals, Rams, Lions, Eagles, was born on this date.

Emperor Haile Selassie went into exile as Italians invaded Ethiopia.

Max Robinson was born on this date. He was a journalist and television news correspondent.

Robinson was born in Richmond, VA, the son of Maxie and Doris Robinson. His siblings were sisters Jewell and Jean and brother Randall. He attended Oberlin College, Virginia Union University, and Indiana University. Robinson began his television career in 1959, when he was hired for a news job at WTOV-TV in Portsmouth, VA. He had to read the news while hidden behind a slide of the station’s logo. One night, Robinson had the slide removed, and was fired the next day. Later that year, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he was the first African-American anchor on a local television news program on WTOP-TV Channel 9. In 1969, he became the first African-American anchor on a network television news program. He later went to Washington, D.C. based WRC-TV, and stayed for three years.

During that time, he won six journalism awards for his coverage of such events as the 1968 riots after civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, the antiwar demonstrations, and the national election. It was during this time that Robinson won two regional Emmys for a documentary he did on Black life in Anacostia, a Black community, titled “The Other Washington.” At WTOP, he was teamed with Gordon Peterson for 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM newscasts. In 1978, Robinson joined ABC’s World News Tonight, becoming the first African-American network anchor.

Almost immediately he took it upon himself to confront the perverse racism at any cost. ABC’s management became frustrated with him and moved him to the post of weekend anchor. In 1983, he left ABC for WMAQ-TV in Chicago where he remained for two years.

Robinson also taught at Federal City College, in Washington, D.C. and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

During his career he received many awards, including the Capital Press Club Journalist of the year award, and the Ohio State Award, as well as an award from the National Education Association (NEA). He was also a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists. Robinson influenced many African-American journalists who have held anchor positions on national news broadcasts, including Ed Bradley, Bryant Gumbel, Carole Simpson, Lester Holt, Robin Roberts, and others.

Max Robinson died of complications of AIDS (which he had kept secret) on December 20, 1988, in Washington D.C.

Asa Philip Randolph issued a call for 100,000 African Americans to march on Washington, DC, to protest armed forces and defense industry discrimination. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who attempted to persuade Randolph and others to cancel the demonstration, issued Executive Order 8802 before Randolph finally yielded. Executive Order 8802 prohibiting government contractors from engaging in employment discrimination based on race, color or national origin. This order is the first presidential action ever taken to prevent employment discrimination by private employers holding government contracts. The Executive Order applied to all defense contractors, but contained no enforcement authority. President Roosevelt signed the Executive Order primarily to ensure that there are no strikes or demonstrations disrupting the manufacture of military supplies as the country prepares for War.

Mrs. Emma Clarissa Clement, a black woman and mother of Atlanta University President Rufus E. Clement, was named “American Mother of the Year” by the Golden Rule Foundation. She was the first Afro-American woman to receive the honor.

On this date President Harry S. Truman appointed Former federal judge William H. Hastie as territorial Governor of the U. S. Virgin Islands, Hastie became the first African-American to hold this position and to govern a U.S. state or territory since Reconstruction. Hastie served as Governor from 1946 to 1949.

Glenn Hearst Taylor, colorful and controversial politician, businessman, United States Senator from Idaho, and vice-presidential candidate of the Progressive Party in the 1948 election, was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, for trying to enter a meeting through a door marked “for Negroes.” He was arrested by infamous police commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor, while attempting to attend a meeting of the Southern Negro Youth Congress. He was subsequently convicted of disorderly conduct.

James Wise, a member of Archie Bell and the Drells, was born on this date.

Poetess Gwendolyn Brooks became the first Black winner of the Pulitzer Prize on this day when her volume of poetry Annie Allen (1949) which won for best book of poetry.

Brooks graduated from Wilson Junior College in Chicago in 1936. She was the state’s Poet Laureate for 16 years and poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. Some of her best-known works include A Street in Bronzeville (1945) and Maud Martha (1953). Her many honors included the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award (1946), a National Endowment for the Arts Senior Fellowship for Literature (1989) and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Brooks received the National Book Foundation’s medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 1994. She also published two autobiographical works, Report from Part One (1972) and Report from Part Two (1995). She was a leading poet and an important figure in the Black Arts movement of the 1960s through 1970s. Brooks, who was born in Topeka, KS, died of cancer in her Chicago home on December 3, 2000.

On this date, Orestes “Minnie” Minoso became the first Black Chicago White Sox player.

A veteran of the Negro Leagues’ New York Cubans and Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians, Minoso had a sensational rookie year, batting .326 with 173 hits, while leading the league in triples and stolen bases. In a questionable and possibly racist decision, sportswriters gave the Rookie of the Year Award to the Yankees’ statistically inferior Gil McDougal.

A fast outfielder, Minoso led the American League in steals three consecutive years. For his career, Minoso batted .298 with 1,962 hits, and is still mentioned as a possible Hall of Fame candidate.

Guitarist and vocalist, Ray Parker, Jr., was born on this date in Detroit, Michigan.

Parker started out as a teenaged session guitarist playing on sessions recorded for Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Hot Wax and Invictus Records whose roster listed Freda Payne, Honey Cone, Chairman of the Board, 100 Proof Aged in Soul, Laura Lee, and 8th Wonder. He’d also play behind the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, the Spinners, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and other Motown acts when they appeared at the Twenty Grand Club. In 1972, Wonder called Parker to ask him to play behind him on a tour that he was doing with the Rolling Stones. Parker thought it was a crank call and hung up the phone. Wonder called back and convinced Parker that he was the real deal by singing “Superstition” to him.

Later, Parker played on Wonder’s albums Talking Book (1972) and Innervisions (1973). Moving from Detroit to Los Angeles, Parker got into session work playing on sides by Leon Haywood, Barry White, arranger Gene Page, and working with Motown producer Clarence Paul on Ronnie McNeir’s 1976 Motown debut, Love’s Comin’ Down, and he appeared in the picnic scene in the Bill Cosby/Sidney Poitier comedy classic Uptown Saturday Night.

Deciding to become a recording artist, Parker got a deal with Arista Records in 1977. Not confident on his singing ability, he put together a band that included vocalist Arnell Carmichael, bassist/singer Jerry Knight (who later had his own solo hit with “Overnight Sensation” and as half of Ollie & Jerry and co-produced hits by the Jets), guitarist Charles Fearing, Larry Tolbert, and Darren Carmichael. However, on record, Parker played most, if not all of the instruments. Though after racking up hits, Arnell et al. were paid a retainer so they’d be available if Raydio had a hit record and needed to tour.

His first LP, Raydio, went gold, peaking at number eight R&B in spring 1978. The LP included the gold, number five R&B hit single “Jack and Jill” (lead vocal by Jerry Knight), “Is This a Love Thing,” and the charting single “Honey I’m Rich.” The hits continued with Ray Parker, Jr. and Raydio’s gold, number four Rock On (the single “You Can’t Change That” was number three R&B, number nine pop in the spring of 1979); the gold, number six R&B Two Places at the Same Time from spring 1980 (“Two Places at the Same Time” was number six R&B in spring 1980); and the number one gold record A Woman Needs Love from 1981 (“A Woman Needs Love [Just Like You Do]” -- the first song Parker sung all the way through without trading vocals -- held the number one R&B spot for two weeks and went number four pop in spring 1981). Then, as Ray Parker, Jr., The Other Woman held the number one R&B, number 11 pop spot in spring 1982 (“The Other Woman” was number two R&B for four weeks).

One of Parker’s biggest hits and best loved songs, “Ghostbusters” was initially submitted for the background score of the Dan Aykroyd/Harold Ramis/Bill Murray/Ernie Hudson comedy. Director Ivan Reitman thought that the song should be released as a single.The “Ghostbusters” music video is one of the funniest and star-studded videos ever made (breakdancing Bill Murray style). “Ghostbusters” parked at the number one R&B spot for two weeks and the number one pop for three weeks on Billboard’s charts in summer 1984.

Parker also wrote and produced hits for New Edition (“Mr. Telephone Man” -- Parker originally recorded this with Jr. Tucker for his 1983 self-titled Geffen album), Randy Hall (“I’ve Been Watching You [Jamie’s Girl],” the refreshing “Gentleman”), Cheryl Lynn (“Shake It Up Tonight” from In the Night), Deniece Williams (the 1979 ARC/Columbia LP When Love Comes Calling, the 1981 Bang LP Brick, Summer Heat), and Diana Ross (“Upfront” from her 1983 RCA LP Ross). Parker left Arista for Geffen then MCA before returning to Arista because of his relationship with Arista president Clive Davis.

Floyd Patterson KOs Brian London in 11 rounds for heavyweight boxing title on this date.

Tanganyika was granted full internal self-government by Britain.

Emlen “The Gremlin” Tunnel was signed by the New York Giants as Assistant Coach on this date. He was the first Black to serve in this position in the National Football League.

Radio RSA: The Voice of South Africa, South Africa began shortwave transmitting. RSA was the international broadcasting service of the Republic of South Africa. It was run by the South African Broadcasting Corporation from its inception on this date until its demise in 1992, following the end of the apartheid era. Radio RSA broadcast news and opinion programming, which was often propaganda aimed at defending the apartheid regime and demonizing its opponents, like the African National Congress.

The “Long Hot Summer” begins. The period between May 1 and Oct. 1, 1967 witnessed the most dramatic and destructive series of Black urban disturbances in American history. Major riots took place in 40 American cities. There were also lesser disturbances in 100 smaller towns and cities. Many felt the riots were sparked by a collective sense of frustrated hopes and a new urban generation less willing to adopt peaceful means for change.

The Mutual Black Network premiered on this date. Founded by the Mutual Broadcasting System, this was the first national full-service radio network aimed at African Americans. It broadcast an hourly 5 minute newscast at 50 minutes past the hour. It also aired sports and feature programs, and for one year beginning in the spring of 1974, a 15-minute daily soap opera called Sounds of the City. Some of its special programming focused on African American history, much of which was researched written and narrated by MBN news anchor Ben Frazier. The Mutual Black Network was later sold to Sheridan Broadcasting which was a minority stockholder in MBN.

A commemorative stamp of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar is issued by the U.S. Postal Service as part of its American Arts series.

Ernest Nathan Morial was inaugurated as the first black mayor of New Orleans. He served from 1978 to 1986 and was the father of former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial who served from 1994-2002.

Dr. Clarence A. Bacote, historian and political scientist, died on this date in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 75.

One million South Africans protested against apartheid in a Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) strike. COSATU is a trade union federation in South Africa. It was founded in 1985 and is the biggest of the country’s three main trade union federations, with 21 affiliated trade unions, altogether organizing 1.8 million workers.

U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employees have a legal burden to prove non- discriminatory reasons for not hiring or promoting.

Angola’s civil war ends.

Robert Guillaume, former star of the Benson TV series, premiered in the title role in “Phantom of the Opera” at the Music Center in Los Angeles. Guillaume continued the role that had been played to critical acclaim by the English star, Michael Crawford.

Rickey Henderson stoles his 939th base in the Oakland A’s game against the New York Yankees, breaking Lou Brock’s major league record. A year later to the date, he recorded his 100th career stolen base.

Los Angeles Dodgers postponed 3 games due to racial riots that occurred because of the Rodney King police acquittals.

Rickey Henderson steals his 1,000th base.

Charges that Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, had plotted to murder Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan are dropped as jury selection for her trial is about to begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Alexis Herman was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Labor on this date.

Eldridge Cleaver, the fiery Black Panther leader who later renounced his past and became a Republican, died on this date in Pomona, California, at age 62.

Former Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, pled guilty to charges stemming from the 1994 genocide of more than 500,000 Tutsis.

Bobby Eggleston was sworn in as the new sheriff of Drew County, Arkansas. He becomes the first African American sheriff in Arkansas since Reconstruction.

On this date, justice prevailed in the racial murder of four young girls in Alabama. A former Ku Klux Klan member was found guilty of murder in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls, one of the most notable crimes of the civil rights era.

The jury found
Thomas Blanton Jr., 62, guilty of four counts of murder and sentenced him to four life sentences, based on an old state law. Blanton was led away in handcuffs. Blanton’s attorney said his client will appeal, based on the makeup of the jury and what he called the “emotional” verdict. “Justice doesn’t mean simply to convict so we all feel good about ourselves,” lawyer John Robbins said.

The trial took place in Birmingham; the panel was made up of eight Whites and four African-Americans, only one of them a man. The jurors deliberated for about two and a half hours before reaching their decision.

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