Columbus convinced Queen Isabella to finance his expedition to the West
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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”
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
W. Hill, Sr., an African-American attorney and activist, was born on this
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.
Williams was born on this date. He was an African-American athlete and
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.
Born 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
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
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
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
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.
Haile Selassie went into exile as Italians invaded
Robinson was born on this date. He was a journalist and television news
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
“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
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.
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,
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
Rickey Henderson steals his
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.
Herman was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Labor on this date.
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.
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.