Robert Purvis, Sr. was born on this date. He was an
African-American political leader and abolitionist.
From Charleston, South Carolina, the second of three sons
born to a wealthy white cotton merchant and a free mulatto mother, Harriet Judah, young
Purvis was to be a determined opponent of slavery. At the age of nine, his
father sent the family to Philadelphia where
Purvis enrolled in the Pennsylvania Abolition Society’s Clarkson School.
He later attended Amherst College in Massachusetts.
His father’s death left the family well off financially and with shrewd
business savvy; Purvis put his commerce sense to good use. Light-skinned and
wealthy, he rejected suggestions that he relocate and “pass.” In 1831, he married
Harriet Forten, the daughter of African-American businessman and abolitionist
James Forten. Throwing himself into the antislavery struggle, he tirelessly
worked with the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee. They sheltered runaway slaves
in Purvis’ “safe house.”
He was an active member with William Lloyd Garrison’s American Anti-slavery
Society in 1833 in helping to establish the organization, signing its Declaration of Sentiments, and
serving on its first board of managers. In the same year, he helped establish
the Library Company of Colored People. In 1838, he drafted “Appeal of Forty
Thousand Citizens Threatened with Disfranchisement,” which supported the repeal
of a new state statute barring African Americans from voting. As a supporter of
the Underground Railroad, he served as chairman of the General Vigilance
Committee from 1852 until 1857. According to records that he kept, from 1831
until 1861, he estimated that he helped one slave achieve freedom per day.
According to these figures, he helped 9,000 slaves achieve freedom.
He traveled to Europe, meeting with British officials, in the name of
stopping slavery. For two decades, Purvis lived in an elegant home in Philadelphia where he entertained abolitionists from America and Europe working politically to end slavery. It was here through his efforts with
his father-in-law, that the career of his niece Charlotte Forten (educator)
was influenced. He welcomed the outbreak of the Civil War, urging President
Lincoln to make emancipation his goal. At the end of the war, Purvis was
asked to head the Freedmen’s Bureau.
He refused, fearing this was a ploy by President Andrew Johnson, to keep black
support while attempting to destroy the bureau. Initially a Republican, Purvis
became disheartened as the party retreated from the principles it advocated
during reconstruction. In the mid-1870s, he was criticized for his position on
the Fifteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1870. A life-long supporter of
women’s rights, Purvis argued that African- American men should not be
enfranchised unless women received the vote. In the last two decades of his
life, he became an elder statesman, tending to his personal possessions at
home. Robert Purvis died in April 15, 1898 in Philadelphia.
date, the 1st Kansas Volunteer Colored Infantry was formed.
This was the first official regiment of Blacks serving in the American Army.
Captain James M. Williams, Co. F, 5th
Kansas Cavalry, was appointed for that portion of the state of Kansas. The area where
Kansas Volunteer Colored Infantry was organized was north of the Kansas River. Captain Williams enlisted Captain H.C.
Seaman, other 2nd Lieutenant recruiting officers and obtained
supplies from departments near Leavenworth.
Within sixty days, 500 men were recruited and the battalion was mustered into
service. This request was not complied with, and the reasons assigned were
wholly unsatisfactory, yet accompanied with assurances of such a nature as to
warrant the belief that but a short time would elapse ere the request would be
complied with. Problems with the civil authorities in the Northern District
threatened their beginning. They were: 1. Rebellion. 2. Prejudices against
Blacks. 3. Loyalists believing that to enlist Black men would not be approved
by the War Department. 4. Many who believed that the Negro were not qualified
to make efficient soldiers, and the result would be defeat, disaster and
Col. Williams followed his instructions to the letter. On October 28, 1862, a
command, consisting of detachments were moved and camped at Wilson’s
Creek near Butler.
About 225 men, under Capt. Seaman were attacked by a rebel force of about 500,
and were defeated. The Union loss was 10 killed and 12 wounded. The next
morning they were reinforced by a few recruits and chased though never caught
This battle was to be the first in the Civil War where colored troops were
used. The work of signing up continued until January 1863, when a battalion of
six companies, was mustered into the U.S. In May 1863, the other four
companies were organized. The regiment was eventually ordered to Baxter
White conservatives suppress the African American vote and capture the Tennessee legislature in
an election marred by assassinations and widespread violence. The campaign effectively ends Radical
Reconstruction in North Carolina.
The conservative legislature will impeach Governor Holden on December 14.
The Convention of
Colored Newspapermen is held in Cincinnati,
Ohio. The meeting is attended by J.
Sella Martin of the “True Republican”, Mifflin
W. Gibbs, former publisher of California’s “Mirror of the
Times” representing the “Pacific Appeal”, Henry McNeal Turner of
Philadelphia’s “Christian Recorder”, the San Francisco “Elevator’s” L.
H. Douglass, and Henry Scroggins of the “American Citizen” (Lexington, Kentucky). Chairman
P.B.S. Pinchback states the aim of the national organization: “to make colored people’s
newspapers self-sustaining.” At the time of the convention, Martin’s “New
Era” and Frederick Douglass’ “North Star” are among eight African American
W.C. Carter invents the umbrella stand.
Sam T. Jack’s play “Creoles” opens in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
It is the first time African American women are featured as performers on the
Williams joins the ancestors in Blackpool, England
at the age of 41. He was the first major African American historian and
published his major work, “History of the Negro Race in America from
1619 to 1880” in 1883. Williams also served in the Ohio House of
Representatives from 1880 to 1881, during the 64th session of the
General Assembly. He was the first African-American to serve in the Ohio
W.S. Grant patents a curtain rod support.
Henry Rucker is
appointed collector of Internal Revenue for Georgia.
marks the birth in New Orleans,
LA of Daniel Louis Armstrong. He was an
African-American jazz, cornet, and trumpet player, singer, band leader, and
entertainer who became affectionately known as Satchmo to the world. Satchmo was short for
Armstrong became one of the most innovative and influential musicians of the 20th
century, and one of the most beloved entertainers in the world. Born Louis
Daniel Armstrong in 1901 he was raised by his mother in the urban slums of New Orleans. As a youth,
he was locked up for delinquency at the Colored Waifs’ home in New Orleans, where he was given a cornet to
play in the home’s brass band. In 1922 Armstrong joined “Oliver and his Creole
Jazz Band” in Chicago
and made his first recordings with Oliver the following year.
After 1925 Armstrong began leading his own band and also recorded with some of
the most renowned blues singers of the time, including American singer Bessie
Smith. From 1925 to 1928, he led a recording group called the “Hot Fives“(later
known as the Hot Sevens.) Their recordings are considered some of the most
seminal and enduring pieces in the history of jazz. In the 1930s and 1940s
Armstrong led a big band, toured Europe on
several occasions, and increasingly pursued a career as a popular entertainer
in motion pictures. In 1947, Armstrong formed a septet called the All Stars.
This band, which Armstrong led until 1968, became largely a vehicle for his own
playing and singing. He became an unofficial musical ambassador from the United States, performing all over the world. In 1964 his recording of “Hello Dolly”
became the number-one song on the Billboard magazine popular-record charts,
replacing “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” by the British rock-music group The
Beatles. That same year Armstrong won a Grammy Award for “Hello Dolly.“
Some of his other hits will be “It’s a Wonderful World,” “Mack the Knife,”
and “Blueberry Hill.” He will also be featured in films: “The Five Pennies,”
“The Glenn Miller Story,” and “High Society.” He will be referred to as
the American ambassador of good will and will be inducted into the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
Louis Armstrong died in 1971. In 1996 Queens
College announced plans to turn
Armstrong’s longtime home in the Queens borough of New York City into a museum in his honor.
Armstrong’s archives are preserved at Queens College.
Robert Hayden was born on this date. He was an
Born Asa Bundy Sheffey, Hayden was raised in the poor Paradise
Valley neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan.
He had an emotionally turbulent youth and was shuttled between the home of his
parents and that of a foster family, who lived next door. Childhood events
would result in times of depression he would call ‘my dark nights of the soul’.
A nearsighted boy, he was often ostracized by his peers and was excluded from
many physical Hobbies. Reading on the other hand occupied a great deal of his
Hayden finished high school in 1932 and through a scholarship attended Detroit
City College. After graduation, he worked for the Federal Writer’s Project,
researching Black history and folk culture. In 1941, he enrolled in a graduate
English Literature program at the University of Michigan where he studied with
W. H. Auden. Auden became an influential mentor and guide in the development of
his writing. Hayden also admired the work of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Elinor Wiley,
Carl Sandburg, and Hart Crane, as well as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and
He had an interest in African-American history and explored his anxieties about
race in his writing. After finishing the degree in 1942, he taught for several
years at Michigan before transferring to Fisk University; in 1969, he would
return to Michigan to complete his teaching career. Hayden published his first
book of poems, Heart-Shape in the Dust, in 1940.
Hayden’s poetry gained international recognition in the 1960s and he was
awarded the grand prize for poetry at the First World Festival of Negro Arts in
Dakar, Senegal, in 1966 for his book Ballad of Remembrance. In 1976, he became
the first Black American to be appointed as Consultant in Poetry to the Library
of Congress (later called the Poet Laureate). He died in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
The United States purchases the Danish
Virgin Islands for $25 million.
Mayme Clayton was born on this date. She was an
African-American Librarian, researcher and historian.
From in Van Buren, Arkansas she graduated from high school at the age of
sixteen. The daughter of Southern pioneers she was proud of her father being
the only black business owner of a general store, dealing successfully with
both black and white communities where she grew up. Her parents instilled in
her a love of culture as well as a sense of adventure.
After graduating from Lincoln University in Nebraska in 1945, she moved to New
York where she met her husband, married and moved to Los Angeles. She earned a
B.A. degree from the University of California-Berkeley, a master’s of library
science from Goddard College and a Ph.D. from Sierra University in Los Angeles.
Clayton began her career as a librarian in 1952, working at the Doheny Library
at the University of Southern California. In 1957, she left USC to become a law
librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she remained for
fifteen years. While at UCLA, Clayton also served as a consultant and founding
member of the Afro-American Studies Center Library. During the 60s, UCLA asked
her to develop a library for the Black Studies Department, and she became
keenly aware that the attainment of out-of-print materials was not valued by
The mission of preserving out-of-print African-American materials fused with
her unwavering and passionate interest in preserving black culture. Leaving
UCLA, Clayton took a position at Universal Books in Hollywood, and when the
store closed, the partners in the store divided the remaining volumes between
themselves. Clayton left with more than 4,000 volumes of books that pertained
to Black society and culture.
Since then, her collection grew to more than 20,000 pieces including films,
books, magazines, music and advertisements. Some of the treasures in this collection
are signed first editions of works by Zora Neale Hurston and handwritten
correspondence from George Washington Carver, as well as a rare signed copy of
Phyllis Wheatley’s “Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral,” considered
as the first book published in America by an author of African descent.
Currently, the collection resides in the Western States Black Research and
Cultural Center in the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Cultural Center. Clayton
served as the president of the center, and her son Avery, serves as the
executive director. Clayton was also the founder of the Black American Cinema
Society, which awards scholarships and hosts film festivals.
She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Phoenix Award and the
Paul Robeson Award. Mayme A. Clayton died on October 13, 2006 at the age of 83.
Dr. Daniel Hale
Williams, pioneer heart surgeon, educator, founder of
Chicago’s Provident Hospital, joins the ancestors. Without using anesthesia,
Williams performed the world’s first successful open heart surgery at Provident
Hospital in 1893.
Jesse Owens sets a new
Olympic running broad jump record by leaping 26’ 5 5/16”.
date, “the most daring move seen in track” happened at the Olympic Summer Games. It was here that African-American “Long” John Woodruff of the
University of Pittsburgh won the 800-meters Gold Medal in Berlin.
On the race day, Woodruff ran against Canada, Italy England, and Australia.
England got the lead at the start, with Woodruff second, over the first lap,
followed closely by two other Brits. As they went to the second lap
backstretch, Woodruff took the lead only for an instant, as England’s Edwards
(who had run in two previous Olympics) moved around him. A young beginner
runner, against the experienced veteran runners led to Woodruff being boxed in.
But, as the field neared the final turn, Woodruff made a move that caused the
crowd to gasp, a reposition that the New York Herald-Tribune, called “the most
daring move seen on a track.” Woodruff came to a complete stop, let the other
runners get around him, and then moved to the outside two lanes. The young
Black man shifted out into the third lane and was last in the pack. From the
third lane, he got around everybody and took control of the race.
He charged to the finish line with his long, lengthening stride, until with one
final burst of speed he took the lead and held it to the tape in 1:52.9,
beating out Italy and Canada. Afterwards Woodruff said, “I felt I had to do
something drastic, for I couldn’t break between the two leaders because I could
have been disqualified on a foul.” At the time it was the first time in 24
years the United States had an 800 Gold Medal. He, like
Jesse Owens (who had won his second medal earlier in the day), was snubbed by
Adolph Hitler, who believed that Blacks are incapable of athletic achievement.
The movement of African American
families into the Trumbull Park housing project in
Chicago, Illinois, triggers virtually continuous riot conditions which will
last more than three years and require the assignment of more than one thousand
policemen to keep order.
Barack Obama was born on this date. He is an
African American lawyer, politician and activist.
From Ohau Hawaii, he is the son of economist Barack Obama, Sr. of Kenya and S.
Ann Dunham of Kansas. Both his parents were students at the East-West Center at
the University of Hawaii at Manoa. At the age of two, his parents divorced and
Obama’s mother re-married and moved the family moved to Indonesia for a couple
of years. But Obama returned to Hawaii to be raised by his grandmother in
downtown Honolulu. He was enrolled in the fifth grade at Punahou School, and
got his first job at Baskin-Robbins in town. After graduating from Punahou
School with honors, Obama went on to study at Columbia University in New York
City majoring in political science.
He then moved to Chicago, Illinois and took up community organizing. He left
briefly to study law at Harvard University where he became the first
African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review. Obama returned to his adopted
hometown of Chicago in 1992 and to organized an aggressive election effort for
the Bill Clinton presidential campaign. His talents gained him a seat at a
local civil rights law firm and became a lecturer of constitutional law at the
University of Chicago. Obama still serves as a professor there. In 1995 he
published his memoir, “Dreams from My Father.” One year later Obama was elected
to the Illinois State Senate from the south side of Chicago. He served as
chairman of the Public Health and Welfare Committee.
Obama is married and has two children. Regarded as a staunch liberal during his
tenure in the legislature, he helped to author a state earned income tax credit
providing benefits to the poor. He also pursued laws that extended health
coverage to Illinois residents who could not afford insurance. Speaking up for
leading gay and lesbian advocacy groups, he successfully passed bills to
increase funding for AIDS prevention and care programs. In the 2004 Senate
race, his early opponent was businessman and educator Jack Ryan and Chicago
Bears former coach Mike Ditka. both opted not to due to family and business
considerations. Obama will deliver the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic
National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.
Nelson Mandela is
captured and jailed by South African police.
Ellison was born on this date. He is an African-American lawyer, and
Keith Maurice Ellison is one of
five boys, was raised in a Roman Catholic home in Detroit, Michigan. Ellison’s
father was a psychiatrist and his mother was a social worker. Growing up
Ellison was influenced by the involvement of his family in the civil rights
movement, including the work of his grandfather as a member of the NAACP in
Louisiana. He converted to Islam at 19 while attending Wayne State University.
In 1987, he married Kim Ellison and moved to Minneapolis to attend the
University of Minnesota Law School from which he graduated in 1990. After
graduating from law school, Ellison joined the firm of Lindquist & Vennum
where he litigated for three years. He then served as Executive Director of the
Legal Rights Center, a nonprofit organization that specialized in the defense
of indigent clients.
In 2002, Ellison was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives for
House District 58B, a blue collar Minneapolis neighborhood, made up of 76
percent minorities. In 2006 Ellison became the first Muslim to be elected to
the US Congress.
He is also the first African American from Minnesota to the House of
Representatives. He and his wife Kim have four children.
James E. Chaney and two other civil rights workers’ bodies are found in an earthen dam
on a farm in Philadelphia, Mississippi. They had been missing since June
21. The FBI says that they had been murdered on the night of their disappearance
by segregationists. Eighteen whites, including several police officers,
were charged with conspiracy to deprive the victims of their civil rights.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the voting rights
bill which authorized the suspension of literacy tests and the
sending of federal examiners into the South.
Willie Stargell is the first to hit a home run out of Dodger Stadium.
Maury Wills is named manager of the Seattle Mariners. He is the third African American
to be named a major league manager.
California Angel Rod
Carew gets his 3,000th base hit.
On the final day of the Atlanta
Olympics, Josia Thugwane became the first Black South African to win a gold medal as he finished first in the marathon.