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Quaker humanitarian, John Woolman began an anti-slavery campaign.

Created in 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.

On this 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.

For his 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 ride.

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.

On this 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 millionaire.

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.”

On this 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.

Jazz singer 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 2000s.

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.

Born on 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.

Born on 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.

Known as 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.

Former U.S. 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.

On this 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 his word.

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 quintet.

Ray Charles & the Raelettes began their first British tour in London’s Finbury Astoria.

A race riot occurred in Birmingham, Alabama.

Vanessa Williams (not Vanessa L. Williams, the first Black Miss America) was born in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York.

She became 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 just begun.

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 College.

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 others.

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 Series.

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 Magazine.

As filmmaker, Vanessa wrote, directed, and produced the short film, Dense (2004) (TV), which aired on Showtime Television and is a favorite among film festival-goers.

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.

After three 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 Washington, DC.

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.”

Originally 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.

Lawrence 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 rights policies.

Honored at 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.

Clarinetist 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.

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