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1832
On this date, we recall the birth of Edward Wilmot Blyden. He was an African-American Black Nationalist and Repatriations advocate.

From St. Thomas, in the West Indies, Blyden was educated beginning at the age of twelve when a white pastor began to encourage him to make the ministry his life’s work. At eighteen, upon coming to America, he was unable to find a seminary that would accept a black student. Instead, at the age of 24, he went to Liberia under the sponsorship of the New York Colonization Society to study at the new Alexander High School in Monrovia. Seven years later he was the principal of the school. As an adult, Blyden had two careers, a teacher and a scholar.

In his writings, he defended his race at every opportunity, exalted the achievements of other blacks, attacked slavery and advocated repatriation of his people back to Africa in
pamphlets such as “A Voice from Bleeding Africa”, in which he attacks slavery, and “A Vindication of the African Race.” As a teacher he was professor of classics from 1862 to 1871 and president of Liberia College from 1880 to 1884. At the same time as a politician and diplomat in Liberia, he was Secretary of State from 1864 to 1866, Minister of Interior from 1880 to 1882, Minister to Britain from 1877 to 1878 and 1892, and Minister Plenipotentiary to London and Paris in 1905.

Blyden traveled to America eight times representing Liberia, his last visit was in 1895. He studied both Christianity and Islam, summing up his views in his influential book Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race. Between 1901 and 1905 he was Director of Education in Sierra Leone. Edward Blyden died in 1912.



1865
The provisional governor of Florida abolishes slavery by proclamation.


1884
On this date, we recall Abbie Mitchell, born on this date. She was an African-American singer and actress.

From the Lower East Side of New York City, she was the daughter of an African-American mother and a German- Jewish father, both who were musically inclined. After completing her public school training in Baltimore, she began to study voice in New York in 1897. Lyricist, Paul L. Dunbar, and composer Will Marion Cook who cast her in their musical Clorindy, the Origin of the Cakewalk, recognized her talent.

A year later she married Cook and was given the principal role in Tes Lak White Folks. The years ahead were filled with many shows, and events around the theatrical life of New York. Mitchell joined the Memphis Student, a playing, singing, and dancing group that opened at Proctor’s Twenty-third Street Theater, the Victoria Theater, and the Roof Garden. She also worked at the Olympia in Paris, the Palace Theater in London, and the Schumann Circus in Berlin. Between 1904 and 1912, she appeared in The Southerner and Bandanna Land.

Years after returning to America, Mitchell took a position as head of the voice department at Tuskegee Institute; this did not keep her from singing in concert. She appeared in Coquette with Helen Hayes in Chicago in 1929 and at Town Hall in New York in 1931. Abbie Mitchell died in Harlem on March 16th 1960.



1897
L.P. Ray, inventor, patented the dust pan on this date. Patent #587,607.


1903
On this date, we celebrate the birth of Horace R. Cayton. He was an African-American sociologist and writer.

He became one of the preeminent Black sociologists in America. From Seattle, Washington, Horace Cayton was the namesake son of a newspaper publisher from the northwest. He came to Chicago in 1929 to study sociology at the University of Chicago.

His works include Black Metropolis; a classic study of Chicago’s” Bronzeville”, and Black Workers and the New Unions, a study of the role of African Americans in industrialized life. During the 1940’s, Cayton served as director of the innovative Parkway Community House, a center for culture, education, and social services. Cayton died on January 22, 1970, in Paris, France.



1908
A site plan for the town of Allensworth, California, is filed with the Tulare County recorder. The town is founded by African American Allen Allensworth, “in order to enable black people to live on an equity [basis] with whites and to encourage industry and thrift in the race.”


1918
On this date, Eddie Jefferson was born. He was an African- American jazz & blues singer.

Edgar Jefferson (his name at birth) was from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Considered by many as the founder of “vocalese” (putting recorded solos to words), Eddie Jefferson did not have a great voice but he was one of the top jazz singers, getting the maximum out of what he had. He started out working as a tap dancer but by the late ‘40s was singing and writing lyrics. A live session from 1949 (released on Spotlite) finds him pioneering vocalese by singing his lyrics to “Parker’s Mood” and Lester Young’s solo on “I Cover the Waterfront.”

However, his classic lyrics to “Moody’s Mood for Love” were recorded first by King Pleasure (1952) who also had a big hit with his version of “Parker’s Mood.” Jefferson had his first studio recording that year (which included Coleman Hawkins’ solo on “Body and Soul”) before working with James Moody (1953-57). Although he recorded on an occasional basis in the 1950s and ‘60s, his contributions to the idiom seemed to be mostly overlooked until the 1970s. Jefferson worked with Moody again (1968-73) and during his last few years often performed with Richie Cole. He was shot to death outside of a Detroit club May 9th, 1979.

Eddie Jefferson, who also wrote memorable lyrics to “Jeannine,” “Lady Be Good,” “So What,” “Freedom Jazz Dance,” and even “Bitches’ Brew,” recorded for Savoy, Prestige, a single for Checker, Inner City and Muse; his final sides appeared in 1999 under the title Vocal Ease.



1928
William A. Scott, III, founds the “Atlanta World” newspaper. It will become a bi-weekly in 1930 and on March 13, 1932, will become the “Atlanta Daily World,” the first African American daily newspaper in modern times.


1937
On this date, we celebrate the founding of Wings Over Jordan Choir. This group was organized by the Rev Glen T. Settles in Cleveland, Ohio and was perhaps the most beautiful sounding of all Gospel choirs.

Their otherworldly and almost ghostly sound was heard on over 50 recordings. In the days before television, when families would sit around the radio together, Wings Over Jordan was a popular family radio program that featured this talented African American choir. Beginning in the late 1930s, the show was broadcast out of Cleveland on the CBS network.

Rev. Glenn T. Settle had his choir work with Worth Kramer (program director at radio station WGAR), who eventually stepped down as program director to run the Wings show. As a bonus, the program featured outstanding African American leaders from all walks of life as guest speakers. One of Wings Over Jordan first recordings was made on October 19, 1941 for CBS radio. It was called I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray. The Wings Over Jordan Celebration Chorus was formed in 1988 to carry on the original group’s mission.



1952
William Adolf Fierre, on of Denmark’s few Black residents, and a native of the Virgin Islands, died in Middlefart, Denmark at age 73. Fierre owned two big hotels in Berlin until the race conscious Nazis seized his fortune and expelled him.


1956
Willie Williams of the United States sets the then 100 meter record at 10.1 seconds.


1957
Archibald J. Carey, Chicago minister, attorney, judge, and diplomat, was appointed the first African American chairman of the President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Committee on Government Employment Policy.


1960
The Republic of Niger achieves its independence from France.


1964
Lucky Dube was born on this date. He was a black South African reggae musician.

Lucky Philip Dube was born in Ermelo, then in the Eastern Transvaal, now Mpumalanga. His parents separated before his birth and he was raised by his mother, Sarah. She named him Lucky because she considered his birth fortunate after a number of failed pregnancies. Along with his two siblings, Thandi and Patrick, Dube spent much of his childhood with his grandmother, while his mother relocated to work.

Dube worked as a gardener but, realizing that he wasn’t earning enough to feed his family, he began to attend school. There he joined a choir and, with some friends, formed his first musical ensemble, called The Skyway Band. While at school he discovered the Rastafari movement. At 18 Dube joined his cousin’s band, The Love Brothers, playing Zulu pop music known as mbaqanga. The band signed with Teal Record Company, (Teal was later incorporated into Gallo Record Company). While Dube was still attending classes, the band recorded material in Johannesburg during his school breaks.

Their debut album was released under the name Lucky Dube and the Supersoul. On the second album, Dube wrote some of the lyrics, sang and also began to learn English. After his fifth Mbaqanga album, he dropped the “Supersoul” name. At this time Dube’s fans were responding to some reggae songs he played during live concerts. Inspired by Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh, he felt the socio-political messages associated with Jamaican reggae were related to a South African audience in an institutionally racist society. In 1984, he released a new musical direction with the mini album Rastas Never Die. The record sold poorly. Keen to suppress anti-apartheid activism, the apartheid regime banned the album in 1985.

Not discouraged he continued to perform the reggae tracks live and wrote and produced a second reggae album. Think About The Children (1985). It went platinum and established Dube as a popular reggae artist in South Africa, in addition to attracting global attention. Dube continued to release commercially successful albums. In 1989 he won four OKTV Awards for Prisoner, won another for Captured Live in 1990 and yet another two for House Of Exile in 1991. His 1993 album, Victims sold over one million copies worldwide. In 1995 he earned a worldwide recording contract with Motown. His album Trinity was the first release on Tabu Records after Motown’s acquisition of the label.

In 1996 he released a compilation album, Serious Reggae Business, which led to him being named the “Best Selling African Recording Artist” at the World Music Awards and the “International Artist of the Year” at the Ghana Music Awards. His next three albums each won South African Music Awards. His album, Respect, earned a European release and Dube toured internationally, sharing stages with Sinéad O’Connor, Peter Gabriel and Sting. He appeared at the 1991 Reggae Sunsplash and the 2005 Live 8 event in Johannesburg.

In addition to music Dube did some acting, appearing in the feature films Voice In The Dark, Getting Lucky and Lucky Strikes Back. On October 18, 2007, Dube was killed in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville shortly after dropping two of his seven children off at their uncle’s house. Police reports suggest he was killed by carjackers.

Lucky Dube recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans in a 25-year period and was one of South Africa’s biggest selling reggae artist. He is survived by his wife, Zanele, and seven children.



1970
Two thousand delegates and observers attend the Congress of African Peoples convention in Atlanta, Georgia.


1972
The Federal Communications Commission upholds a political candidate’s right to broadcast paid commercials with racist content if such broadcast presents no danger of violence or incitement to violence.


1986
On this date, the United States Senate overrode President Ronald Reagan’s veto of legislation imposing economic sanctions against South Africa.


1989
Rickey Henderson sets American League mark of 50 stolen bases in nine seasons.


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