humanitarian, John Woolman began an anti-slavery campaign.
1787 by the New York Manumission Society, a group dedicated to advocating for
African Americans, the New York African Free School reached
500 students. The school’s explicit mission was to educate black children to
take their place as equals to white American citizens. It began as a
single-room schoolhouse with about forty students, the majority of whom were
the children of slaves, and by the time it was absorbed into the New York City
public school system in 1835, it had educated thousands of children, a number
of whom went on to become well known in the United States and Europe.
date, Black slaves commandeered the Confederate ship “the Planter.”
It had just gotten dark on that evening in 1862, and General Roswell Ripley and
the other White confederate officers of the steamer, had gone ashore to attend
a party in Charleston, SC, leaving the Black crew alone. Slave Robert Smalls, also wheelman, and the Black crew’s families, 12 other slaves, came aboard the Planter. Smalls was the
quartermaster, or wheelman, of the ship and knew all the routing channels in
Charleston harbor and the gun and troop positions of the confederate armies
guarding the harbor.
He and the other slaves got the ship under way, headed for the mouth of the
harbor and the blockading Union fleet and were soon passing under the guns of
Fort Sumter. To boost their odds of success, Smalls dressed himself in the
clothing of Planter’s confederate captain. The strategy worked because they
weren’t fired upon until after they were out of range. The Planter eventually
came up to the Union ship, U.S.S. Onward, to surrender.
The Planter was equipped with a 24-pound howitzer, a 32-pound pivot gun, a
7-inch rifle, and 4 smoothbore cannons. It had served as headquarters for
General Ripley and was valuable because it could carry up to one thousand
troops. Smalls, who was from the Sea Islands area, knew the waters well.
The ship was an important trophy for the Union. Generally, any enemy ship taken
in this way was treated as an honor for the men who performed the brave
accomplishment. Commander Du Pont submitted the claims for Smalls and the
others to Washington, though he had reservations that they would be honored.
Since the Blacks had been slaves, and considering the lingering impact of the
Dred Scott decision, the nation’s government in the capital, said they were
merely contraband. It took a special act of Congress to award the ship as a
reward and it was valued at only $9,168 dollars or one-third its true value.
daring deed, Smalls was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant. After the
Civil War, he was elected congressman from South Carolina.
Segregated street cars are integrated in Louisville, KY on this date.
Prior to the integration, the
streetcar company, Central Passenger Railroad Company had discriminating
policies toward African Americans and, in 1870, it led to a protest movement.
Horace Pearce and the brothers, Robert and Samuel Fox, boarded a Central Passenger
streetcar at Tenth and Walnut Streets, they deposited their fares and sat down.
They were told to leave, but refused. Other streetcar drivers were called to
the scene, and the Fox brothers and Pearce were kicked and knocked about, then
thrown off the streetcar. Outside, a crowd of African Americans hurled mud
clods and rocks at the car and encouraged the men to reboard because they had a
federal right to ride the streetcars. When the police arrived, the three men
were taken off the car, put in jail, and charged with disorderly conduct. Reverend H. J. Young posted their bail. At
their hearing, no African Americans were allowed to testify, and each of the
three men was fined $5. A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court: R. Fox v.The Central Passenger Railroad
Company. At the trial, the jury decided in favor of the three men and they
were each awarded $15 for damages. In spite of the decision, as more African
Americans tried to board the streetcares, they were thrown off, leading to more
protests and near riots. Louisville Mayor John G. Baxter called a meeting and
it was decided by the streetcar companies that all persons would be allowed
The Treaty of Bardo (or Treaty of
Al-Qasr as-Sa’id, Treaty of Kasser Said) was signed on this date between
representatives of the French Republic and Tunisian bey Muhammed as-Sadiq. A
raid of Algeria by the Tunisian Kroumer tribe served as a pretext for French
armed forces to invade Tunisia. Jules Ferry, the French foreign minister,
managed to send a French expeditionary force of approximately 36,000 troops to
defeat the Kroumer tribe. The French met little resistance from both the
Kroumer tribe and from as-Sadiq. Eventually, the French withdrew their forces
after signing the treaty. However, the terms of the agreement gave France
responsibility for the defense and foreign policy decisions of Tunisia.
Henceforth, Tunis became a French protectorate.
Hazel Harrison, an
African-American pianist and teacher, was born on this date.
She was born in La Porte, IN, the daughter of Hiram James and Olive J. Wood.
For almost four decades, Harrison held the undisputed title of the “premiere
black pianist,” man or woman. In the tradition of most American musicians of
the era, she went to Europe in her early 20s for education and employment. For
several years she studied in Berlin, gave recitals, and appeared with the Berlin
Philharmonic. Returning to the U.S., she performed in Chicago to such acclaim
that two women sponsored her return to Europe for more studies.
She spent 1911-14 studying again with Busoni, then launched her performing
career, which continued full-time in Europe and the U.S. until 1931. In this
year she began her teaching career as head of the piano department at Tuskegee
Institute in Alabama, and in 1936, she transferred to Howard University in
Washington, D.C., where she taught until her retirement in 1955.
She balanced her teaching career with frequent performances, both with the
orchestra and in solo recitals throughout the U.S. In 1958, she was lured out
of retirement to join the faculty of Alabama State A & M College and later,
Jackson College, until 1963. Eileen Southerns’ “Biographical Dictionary of
Afro-American and African Musicians” (1982), it states: “Her style was
described as skillful, brilliant, and powerful with the depth of a full
orchestra, displaying consummate musicianship.” Hazel Harrison died on April
29, 1969, Washington, D.C.
Juan Morel Campos died in
Ponce, Puerto Rico on this date. He was a musician and composer who was one of
the first to integrate Afro-Caribbean styles and folk rhythms into the
classical European musical model. He was considered the father of the “danza.”
Louisiana adopted a new constitution
with a “grandfather clause” designed to eliminate African American voters. It stated that a person may only vote if their father or grandfather
was eligible to vote on or before January 1, 1867, thereby disqualifying most
blacks. By 1910, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama and Oklahoma have
also adopted “grandfather clauses.”
Joe Gans, born Joseph Gaines, rated as the greatest lightweight boxer of all time, became the first
native-born African-American to win a world crown in boxing by knocking out
Frank Erne in the first round at Fort Erie, Ontario for the lightweight title. He
was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954.
The Second NAACP conference opened in New York City. The three day conference created a permanent
national structure for the organization.
date, Albert L.
Murray was born. He is an African-American
essayist and critic whose writings assert the vitality and the powerful
influence of Black people in forming American traditions.
He was born in Nokomis, AL. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee
Institute in Alabama in 1939, and his M.A. from New York University in 1948. He
also taught at Tuskegee. In 1943, he entered the U.S. Air Force, from which he
retired as a major in 1962.
Murray’s collection of essays, “The Omni Americans: New Perspectives on Black
Experience and American Culture,” (1970), used historical fact, literature, and
music to challenge the predominant false myths and perceptions of Black
American life. In his next book, “South to a Very Old Place” (1971) continued
his argument as he visited scenes of his segregated boyhood during the 1920s.
In “Stomping the Blues” (1976), Murray maintained that blues and jazz musical
styles developed as affirmative responses to misery.
He also co-wrote Count Basie’s autobiography, “Good Morning Blues” (1985) and
wrote the novels, “Train Whistle Guitar” (1974), “The Spyglass Tree” (1991) and
the essay collection, “The Blue Devils of Nada” (1996), “The Hero and The
Blues,” “Stomping The Blues,” and “Good Morning Blues.
Madame C. J. Walker, founder of the oldest Black cosmetics company using an original
formula for “refining the scalp and straightening hair,” died on this date a
Paulette Poujol-Oriol was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She became a well-known literary personality
in Haiti. She was best known for her innovative creative expression. Her works
included “Prayers for Two Vanished Angels” and “The Crucible.”
date, Mervyn M.
Dymally, an African-Trinidadian educator and
politician, was born.
Born in Cedros, Trinidad, in the British West Indies, Dymally attended Cedros
Government School on Trinidad and St. Benedict and Naparima secondary schools
in San Fernando, Trinidad. In 1946 he arrived in the United States to study at
Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO. He earned a B.A. degree in education
from California State University, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 1954. In 1956, he
began a career as a teacher of exceptional children in Los Angeles.
Dymally became a member of the U. S. House of Representatives in 1981 following
a diverse career in education and government. From 1963 to 1966, Dymally served
in the California assembly, and was a member of the state senate from 1967
until 1975. As a state senator, he chaired committees on social welfare,
military and veterans’ affairs, elections and reapportionment, and a select
committee on medical education and health needs. While a member of the
legislature, he earned an M.A. degree in government at California State University
at Sacramento in 1969.
In 1974 he was elected lieutenant governor of California; he also headed the
State Commission for Economic Development and the Commission of the
Californias. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1978, the same
year he received a Ph.D. degree in human behavior from United States International
University in San Diego.
Dymally defeated Representative Charles H. Wilson and three other candidates in
the June 1980 primary in California’s 31st Congressional District,
and was decisively elected in November. He served on the House Foreign Affairs
Committee, chairing its Subcommittee on International Operations.
He also served on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee and the District
of Columbia Committee, chairing its Subcommittee on Judiciary and Education.
From 1987 until 1989 he was chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Dymally
has sponsored legislation advocating the causes of many human rights groups and
has devoted particular attention to United States policies toward and
assistance levels for nations in Africa and the Caribbean.
He has also called for increased funding for the education of minority
students and senior citizens and for expanded opportunities for minority-owned
and operated energy firms to develop oil and gas resources on federal land.
Rep. Dymally retired from the Congress in 1992.
Samuel Nujoma was born
in Etunda, South West Africa (now Namibia). He became a nationalist politician
and the first president of Namibia. He remained in exile for thirty years from
1959 to 1989 when he returned to Namibia and won a seat in the National
Assembly. He vacated this seat in 1990 when he was elected president.
Henry Hugh Proctor died in Brooklyn, New York on this date at the age of 64. He had been
the pastor of Nazarene Congregational Church for thirteen years. Prior to
coming to New York, he had been pastor of the First Congregational Church in
Atlanta, Georgia for twenty four years, where he had been instrumental in
working with local whites in order to reduce racial conflicts in the city.
Elechi Amadi was born
in Aluu, Nigeria on this date. He became a novelist whose works illustrated the
tradition and inner feelings of traditional tribal life of his people. He was
known for his works “The Concubine,” “Sunset in Biafra: A Civil War Diary,” “The
Great Ponds,” “The Slave,” “Estrangement,” “Isiburu,” “Peppersoup,” “The Road
to Ibadan,” “Dancer of Johannesburg,” and “Ethics in Nigerian Culture.” His writings
reflected his upbringing as a member of the Igbo ethnic group in Nigeria.
Alwyn Lopez “Al”
Jarreau was born on this day in Milwaukee, WI.
Jarreau is a seven-time Grammy Award winner. He is the only vocalist in history
to win in three separate categories: Jazz, Pop, and R&B. He also won the
Grammys within a span of four consecutive decades — the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and
In 1975, Jarreau was working with
pianist Tom Canning when he was spotted by Warner Bros. Records and soon
thereafter released his critically acclaimed debut album, We Got By, which catapulted him to international fame and garnered
him a German Grammy Award. A second German Grammy would follow with the release
of his second album, Glow.
One of Jarreau’s most commercially and artistically successful albums is Breakin’ Away (1981), which includes the
hit song “We’re in This Love Together.” He wrote and performed the
Grammy-nominated theme to the 1980s American television show Moonlighting.
Among other things, he is well-known for his scat singing and the ability to
imitate conventional guitar, bass and percussive instrumentation. He was also a
featured vocalist on USA for Africa’s “We Are the World” in which he sang the
line, “...and so we all must lend a helping hand.” Another charitable media
event, HBO’s Comic Relief, featured Al in a duet with Natalie Cole singing the
song “Mr. President,” written by Joe Sterling, Mike Loveless and Ray Reach.
In 2003 Jarreau and conductor Larry Baird collaborated together doing symphony
shows around the United States, with Baird arranging additional orchestral
material for Jarreau’s shows.
He has toured and performed with numerous musicians, including Joe Sample,
Kathleen Battle, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Rick Braun and George Benson. He
also performed the role of the Teen Angel in a 1996 Broadway production of
Grease. On March 6, 2001 he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His
star is located at 7083 Hollywood Boulevard on the corner of Hollywood
Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.
Al Jarreau appeared in a duet with American Idol finalist Paris Bennett during
the Season 5 finale and on Celebrity Duets singing with actor Cheech Marin.
this day was Norman Whitfield, songwriter and
producer, best known for his work with Berry Gordy’s Motown. He collaborated
with Barrett Strong on such hits as “I Heard It through the Grapevine,” “Ain’t
Too Proud to Beg,” “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” “Cloud Nine,” “War,” “Papa Was a
Rolling Stone,” and “Car Wash.”
Jay Otis Washington of the Persuasions was born on this date. He also worked with Joni
Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Don McLean.
this day was James Purify of James and Bobby
Purify. Their “I’m Your Puppet” in 1966 was No.6 in the US and a No. 12 single
in 1976 in the UK.
Lady Day, Billie Holliday charted R&B (#5) with “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?). It was her first and only R&B hit, but her last of thirty-nine pop hits that started in 1935. The film Lady Sings the Blues, starring Diana Ross was based on Billie’s life.
Singer Willie Parnell of Archie Bell & the Drells was born on this date.
Congressman Oscar Stanton DePriest died on this date
at the age of 80 in Chicago, Illinois. He had been the first African American
elected to the U.S. Congress since Reconstruction and, from Illinois, the first-ever
African American congressman from the North. He was elected as a Republican to the
71st, 72nd, and 73rd Congresses. As the only
Black in Congress from 1929 to 1933, he was a courageous fighter for every
legal guarantee of rights for Blacks and against every aspect of racial bias.
date, the first African-American pitcher, Samuel “Toothpick Sam” Jones, tossed a no-hitter in major league baseball.
Jones, a member of the Chicago Cubs, no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates 4–0,
striking out the last three batters in the 9th after walking the
bases loaded. Occurring in Chicago, it was the first no-hitter in Wrigley Field
since the double no-hitter of 1917. The Cubs had 15 hits against Nellie King
and Vernon Law that afternoon.
Jones was nicknamed Toothpick Sam for the toothpick he always chewed on the
mound. TV announcer Harry Creighton joked in the pre-game interview with Jones
that he’d give him a gold toothpick if he pitched a no-hitter. Creighton kept
The Flamingos’ “A Kiss of Your Lips” and the Penguins’ “Dealer of Dreams” were issued.
At the Meeting of National
Negro Leaders summit, civil rights
leaders called for an escalation of the campaign against discrimination and
segregation. Also, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was
sharply criticized for a speech which, in effect, urged them to “be patient” in
their demands for full civil and voting rights.
The Temptations charted
for the first time with “Dream Come True,” reaching #22
R&B, though it was the flip, “Isn’t She Pretty,” that was the portent of things to come from this Hall of Fame
Ray Charles & the Raelettes began their first British tour in London’s Finbury Astoria.
A race riot occurred in
Vanessa Williams (not
Vanessa L. Williams, the first Black Miss America) was born in the Bedford
Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York.
a member of the New York City Opera’s Children’s Chorus at age 11. Vanessa then
signed with a talent manager and booked her first audition, a commercial for
Frito Lay. Her pattern for success clearly set, her winning streak had only
After graduating from New York’s famed High School of Performing Arts she
earned a Bachelor’s degree in theatre and business from Marymount Manhattan
A member of all three actors unions, Vanessa kept busy striking a balance as a
professional actress and college student. When she landed a recurring role on “The
Cosby Show” (1984) as (Theo’s scene partner in a school play), a high-strung
student/actress named Jade Marsh, she made a friend and fan of “The Cos” Bill
Cosby. So impressed with her work, “Mr. C” asked her back to play yet another
role, Theo’s girlfriend Cheryl Lovejoy, a sweet young thing from Barbados.
Her New York stage credits grew to include the Lincoln Center production of
Death and the King’s Horseman and the Broadway productions of Sarafina and Mule Bone, the Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston
collaboration. The opening night celebration for Mule Bone packed a double punch of pleasure, as New Jack City (1991) was released in
theaters nationwide that same evening. In this, her first feature film, Vanessa
plays Keisha, the gun toting head of security opposite Wesley Snipes as drug
czar Nino Brown.
Vanessa arrived in LA in September of ‘91, “just to check it out.” A month
later she was cast as single mother Anna-Marie McCoy in the Gothic horror film,
Candyman (1992). She made her west
coast move official in January of ‘92, and became a media darling when she hit
the media radar as one of the stars in the Fox TV hit “Melrose Place” (1992).
After residence on “Melrose Place” (1992) Vanessa traveled to Spain to sing and
host the variety show Grand Fiesta on the Telecinco network in Madrid. Back
from Europe she was immediately cast as a series regular in Steven Bochco’s
critically acclaim television drama “Murder One” (1995), where she earned her
first NAACP Image Award Nomination.
She appeared opposite Lisa Kudrow in the Albert Brooks feature Mother (1996/II), then went on location
in South Africa to star in A Woman of
Color (1997) (TV), a film written and directed by Oscar nominated director,
Bernard Joffa. She followed these projects with a ten-episode arc on “Chicago
Hope” (1994), where she was again nominated for an NAACP Image Award.
Vanessa starred in two BET original made for TV movies: Incognito (1999) (TV) and Playing
with Fire (2000) (TV), and as guest star on “Total Recall” (1994), “The
Pretender” (1996), “NYPD Blue” (1993), “The Steve Harvey Show” (1996), “Malcolm
& Eddie” (1996), and “Living Single” (1993), “Cold Case” (2003) among other
She starred (opposite her soon to be “Soul Food” (2000) costar Rockmond Dunbar)
in Punks (2000), the award-winning feature film directed by Patrik-Ian Polk,
which premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in 2000.
She earned a Daytime Emmy Nomination for her extraordinary work in Our America (2002) (TV) a Showtime
original movie directed by Ernest R. Dickerson, which also premiered at
Sundance the following year.
As hot mama, Maxine Chadway, in the hit Showtime series “Soul Food” (2000),
Vanessa secured the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Vanessa is also a talented writer who has written a collection of poetry and
prose titled Shine. Her poems and essays have also appeared in Essence
As filmmaker, Vanessa wrote, directed, and produced the short film, Dense
(2004) (TV), which aired on Showtime Television and is a favorite among film
As a singer/songwriter, Vanessa performed her original melodies in the films
Dense (2004) (TV) and the award-winning short Driving Fish (2002). She recently
performed “The Vagina Monologues” along with Star Jones and Sherri Shepherd
(from “The View” (1997)) in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, “Harlot Poetry by
Vanessa Williams” at Artpeace Gallery in Burbank, California and “Stories in
Song: an evening with Vanessa Williams” at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica, CA.
R&B chart singles with Lloyd Price’s Double L Label, Wilson Pickett’s contract was bought by Atlantic records. He would go on to have his
greatest success with Atlantic, racking up thirty-five R&B hits between
1965 and 1973.
H. Rap Brown replaced Stokely Carmichael as chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
“Are You Experienced,” the debut album by Jimi Hendrix was released in
the UK. Hendrix also played a gig at the Bluesville Club, Manor House in London
on this day.
Jimi Hendrix was
arrested by police on his way to Toronto for possession of hashish and heroin.
Hendrix claimed the drugs had been planted on him.
The Poor People’s March under the Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy reached
Kim Fields (later
Freeman) was born in Los Angeles, California. She became an actress as a child,
starring in the sit-com, “The Facts of Life” (1979-1988). She continued her
television career on the “Living Single” show, which premiered in 1993.
Ernie Banks of the
Chicago Cubs hit his 500th home run in an eleven inning win over the
Atlanta Braves. The Cubs slugger went deep during the second inning and
simultaneously reached one-thousand six-hundred runs batted in.
A racially motivated
civil disturbance occurred in Augusta, Georgia. Six African Americans were killed.
Authorities say five of the victims were shot by police.
Wynona Carr died in this date. She was a gospel singer who was best known for her rendition of “The Ball Game.” Her other recordings were “Each Day,” “Lord Jesus,” “Dragnet for Jesus,” “Fifteen Rounds for Jesus,” “Operator, Operator,” “Should I Ever Love Again,” and “Our Father.”
known as the gospel group the Heavenly Sunbeams, the Emotions (paired with Earth, Wind & Fire) charted with “Boogie Wonderland” (#6), their last of nine Hot 100 discs.
“Lena Horne: The Lady
and Her Music” opened at the Nederlander in
New York City on this date for 333 performances.
South African prisoner Nelson Mandela saw his wife Winnie for 1st time in 22 years on this date.
Lionel Richie started a
two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with “Hello,” his
second US solo No.1, also a No.1 in the UK.
Douglas Wilder, Virginia’s first Black governor, ordered all state
agencies and institutions to divest from companies that had earnings in
apartheid South Africa on this date.
Hampton University students in Virginia stage a silent protest against President George H.W. Bush’s commencement address to highlight their opposition to his civil
the fifth annual World Music Awards in Monte Carlo, Monaco, Michael Jackson received awards as World’s Best-Selling pop and Overall Artist of the
Year, Best-Selling U.S. Artist of the Year, and World’s Best-Selling Artist of
the Era. Boyz II Men was christened International New Group of the Year and performed their
international hit, “End of the Road.” Tina Turner was given Outstanding
Contribution to the Music Industry award.
The United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights finally used the
word “genocide” to describe the killings in Rwanda.
and alto saxophonist Marshall Royal (or Marshal Royal) best known for his work with Count Basie, with whose band he played
for nearly twenty years died on this date.
On this date, at the Windhoek Country
Club in Windhoek, Namibia, Miss USA of 1995, Chelsi Smith won the Miss Universe Pageant. She was the highest placed contestant
after the preliminary competitions, which propelled her into the top ten.
During the final competition, she had the highest swimsuit score, placed third
in interview and seventh in evening gown, but still remained the highest placed
contestant overall. In the top six, she placed second in interview. After
making the top three, Smith went on to win the Miss Universe title, the first
Miss USA to win the title since Shawn Weatherly in 1980.
Wendy Fitzwilliam, Miss
Trinidad and Tobago is crowned Miss Universe in Honolulu.