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James Forten’s birth is marked on this date. He was a Black businessman a Revolutionary War soldier, inventor, entrepreneur, and abolitionist.

From Philadelphia of free Black parents Forten served in the Continental Army as a powder boy at the age of fifteen. After being part of a crew captured by the British and spending seven months in prison, he returned to America, working as a sail maker for a man named Robert Bridges. Upon the death of his employer, Forten bought the company and as an inventor-entrepreneur of a sail-handling device, he built a highly successful business. He was among those in the city of brotherly love who formed the independent Bethel AME Church in 1787.

Forten was an influential figure in the fight against slavery. It was he who convinced William Lloyd Garrison of the ill of European colonization. He was equally forceful in leading the resistance to the state of Pennsylvania’s attempt to restrict the immigration of BLACKS from the South. Forten used his wealth and influence to assist in shaping the black abolitionist movement. In 1817, his speech at Bethel AME Church protesting the American Colonization Society’s attempt to send BLACKS back to Africa.

Also, Forten was the first Black to receive a patent. James Forten died in March 1842.

Oberlin College was founded on this date. It has one of the most revered African-American histories of any American college.

It is a private, coeducational institution in Oberlin, Ohio southwest of Cleveland. It was known as Oberlin Collegiate Institute until 1850, when its present name was adopted. Two years after its founding, Oberlin admitted students “without respect to color,” becoming one of the first U. S. colleges to do so; before the American Civil War, it was known as a c enter for antislavery activities. Charles Grandison Finney, professor of theology and president of Oberlin from 1851 to 1866, first proclaimed his doctrine of evangelical Calvinism known as Oberlin Theology.

Oberlin was also the first college in the United States to admit women. Women studied in the “Ladies Department” at Oberlin from the school’s founding, but in 1837 four women entered the regular college degree program. After the civil war, Oberlin’s BLACK graduates played influential roles in establishing other black colleges and serving on their faculties. As these colleges grew and other white colleges began admitting blacks Oberlin began to lose its distinctiveness. However, in the 1880s, Mary Terrell, Anna Cooper, and Ida B. Wells (all AB, 1884) found it an inspiring place to be. During the civil rights and Black Power movements, renewed public pride in Oberlin’s early commitment to racial justice resurfaced.

This tradition brought on new and successful efforts to increase enrollment and retention. Presently, Oberlin College remains highly selective and dedicated to recruiting students from diverse backgrounds. The North Central Association of College and Secondary Schools, the National Association of Accredited Schools of Music, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The College is located in the city of Oberlin, with a population of 8,600. Oberlin has two divisions: the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music. The college awards the degree of Bachelor of Arts in the humanities and the natural and social sciences.

The conservatory awards the bachelor of music, as well as master’s degrees in conducting, music education, opera theater, performance on historical instruments, and teaching. Research facilities at Oberlin College include the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

William Tecumseh Sherman occupied Atlanta. In series of battles around Chaffin’s Farm in suburb of Richmond, Black troops captured entrenchments at New Market Heights, made gallant but unsuccessful assault on Fort Gilmer and helped repulse Confederate counterattack on Fort Harrison. Thirty-ninth United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) won a Congressional Medals of Honor in the engagements.

John Parker patents “Parker Pulverizer.” U.S. Patent # 304,552.

Edith Wilson was born on this date. She was an African-American blues singer.

Born Edith Goodall, she came from a middle-class Black family in Louisville, Kentucky. After deciding on a career in show business and marrying pianist Danny Wilson, she performed in Chicago, Washington, D. C., and New York before accepting a recording contract from Columbia Records in 1921. Backed by Johnny Dunn and the Original Jazz Hounds, Wilson cut “Nervous Blues,” “Vampin’ Liza Jane” and other songs, most of which were composed or arranged by Perry Bradford. 

Rather than focus on recording, Wilson shifted her attention to performing, as comedy and histrionics increasingly became an integral part of her routine. By starring in such shows as The Plantation Revue, Creole Follies, and Hot Chocolates, Wilson cultivated a large following with white and upscale black audiences. Although her relationship with Columbia Records ended in the mid-‘20s, Wilson did cut a few more songs with different labels before effectively concluding her recording career in 1930. Like many other female singers in the 1920s, Edith Wilson incorporated blues songs into a repertoire that was built mainly from cabaret and show tunes.

Though she lacked the emotional depth that artists such as Bessie Smith and Ida Cox brought to the classic blues form, Wilson helped introduce the blues to white audiences, both in the U. S. and Europe. The exposure she and other blues-flavored cabaret performers like her gave the music in non-black markets enabled the genre to assume a stronger posture in pre-World War II pop music. Throughout the ‘30s and ‘40s, she continued to perform in theaters and cabarets with big bands and revues and even appeared in a few films. Her most noted performing roles were on radio; Wilson played the part of Kingfish’s mother-in-law on the “Amos and Andy” show, and shortly thereafter became the voice of Aunt Jemima for the Quaker Oats Company.

Wilson performed up until 1963 when she retired from the stage. However, a 1972 recording with Eubie Blake sparked a comeback that led to frequent folk and blues festival dates and an album for the Delmark label in 1976. One of her last noted performances was at the 1980 Newport Jazz Festival. She died a year later on March 30, 1981.

Amanda Randolph was born on this date. She was an African-American actress.

From Louisville, Kentucky, she and her younger sister Lillian were very successful stage and film performers. Her film and TV credits include: The Black Network, (1936) as Mezzanine Johnson; Jail Matron; Swing! (1939), as Liza Freeman; Comes Midnight (1940); Lying Lips (1939); “Amos ‘n’ Andy” (1951 TV Series) as Sapphire’s Mama; No Way Out (1950); She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952) as Maybelle; Bomba and the Jungle Girl (1952) as Linasi; A Man Called Peter, (1955) as Willie; “Make Room for Daddy” TV Series, (1953-1964) as Louise; “The Children’s Hour,” (1953); “ The Danny Thomas Show, “ (1957).

Amanda Randolph died of a Stroke on August 24, 1967 in Duarte, California.

On this date, Rex Goreleigh was born. He was an African American painter.

From Peullyn, Pennsylvania, Goreleigh became interested in art at an early age as images helped his communication overcome his own shyness, which came from a childhood speech impediment. When he was fifteen, his mother died and he left for Philadelphia. In 1918, he moved to Washington D. C., attending Dunbar High School for two years. At the age of eighteen, Goreleigh saw his first display of African-American art in New York at the Harmon Foundation exhibition at International House, a show that inspired him to take drawing lessons while he waited tables.

In 1933, while waiting on the table of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, Goreleigh was invited to watch him work on the murals he was mounting at Rockefeller Center; this experience he would later say “put him on the road to becoming an artist.” In 1934, with the Works Proj ect Administration (WPA), Goreleigh spent time with muralist Ben Shahn. For two years after this, he studied in Europe, returning to New York, teaching art at the Utopia House for the Federal Arts Project. From 1936 to ‘37, he taught at the Harlem branch of the YMCA.

In the late 1930s, through the WPA, Goreleigh and artist Norman Lewis established an art center in Greensboro, N. C., after which he remained there recently married to a local librarian. The couple moved to Chicago in 1940 and he worked as an art coordinator for the Schreiner-Bennet advertising agency. For three years until 1947, Goreleigh directed the Chicago South side Community Art Center. He moved to Princeton, N.J. in the late 1940s and directed Princeton Group Arts from 1947 to 1953, a community arts center that provided lesson and organized concerts, lectures, and exhibits.

In 1955, he opened his Studio-on-the-Canal art school, which served the community into the 1970s. His best-known paintings are Dean’s Alley 1938, Tomato Pickers 1962, Misery 1940, Quaker Bridge Road 1967, and Sunflower 1967. Rex Goreleigh died in 1986.

On this date, Romare Bearden was born. He was an African-American artist.

Born Fred Howard Romare Bearden in Charlotte, North Carolina, he grew up primarily in the Harlem district of New York City. His mother’s work as New York editor for the Chicago Defender newspaper and as a social activist brought Bearden into contact with the writers, artists, and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance, a high point of black intellectual life during the 1920s. Bearden’s life-long interest in African American art and in jazz and blues music dates from this period. He studied at New York University, receiving his B. A. degree in 1935.

While a student, he drew cartoons for the university’s humor magazine, Medley, and submitted political cartoons and drawings to such publications as the Baltimore Afro-American, Collier’s Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post. In the late 1930s Bearden attended the Art Students League where he worked with German-American expressionist artist George Grosz. During the late 1950s and early 1960s Bearden began experimenting with abstraction. His technique involved applying broad areas of color in various thicknesses on rice paper and then gluing the painted papers on canvas, usually in several layers. He then tore sections of the paper away and added more paper until a motif or image presented itself. He completed the work by painting additional elements.

Bearden produced some of his most innovative works in the late 1960s. Often incorporating life-sized imagery, these works combine collage with acrylics, oils, mosaics, and black and white photographs. During the 1970s and 1980s his subject matter continued to emphasize both African American myth and everyday experience. The small collage Family (1988) served as the model for a much larger piece made of ceramic tiles, which is displayed at the Joseph P. Addabbo Federal building in the New York City borough of Queens. Bearden’s long-term association with the island of Saint Martin in the West Indies, where his wife had family, can be seen in works throughout his career. Pepper Jelly Lady (1980), a colorful lithograph, depicts a woman selling her pepper jelly in front of a walled estate. A wide border of single-color line drawings sets off the vibrant central image.

Bearden coauthored several books on African-American artists including Six Black Masters of American Art (1972) and A History of African-American Artists (1992). In 1987, a year before his death; Bearden was awarded the National Medal of Arts by United States president Ronald Reagan. His paintings and collages show many aspects of the Black experience. Bearden experimented with a variety of forms and styles over the years, and his work reflects his interest in the 20th-century art movements of cubism, social realism, and abstraction.

Ozzie Williams was born on this date. He is an African-American Engineer.

From Washington, D. C., his father was Oswald S. Williams, a postal worker, and his mother was Marie (Madden) Williams, a housewife. He grew up in New York, graduating from Boys High School in Brooklyn in 1938. Williams became interested in engineering as a teenager. He loved to make model airplanes and decided to become an engineer after a family friend described an engineer as a person who designs things. Williams went to New York University where a dean discouraged him because he was black. Williams completed his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering at New York University in 1943; he received his master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the same institution in 1947.

During World War II, Williams was a senior aerodynamicist with the Republic Aviation Corporation. He helped to design the P47 Thunderbolt, which was pivotal in the war effort. In 1947 Williams moved to the Babcock and Wilcox Company, where he was a design draftsman. He then spent two years as a technical writer with the United States Navy Material Catalog Office, leaving in 1950 to take an engineering position at Greer Hydraulics, Inc. At Greer, as a group project leader, he was responsible for the development of the first experimental airborne radio beacon, which was used to locate crashed airplanes.

In 1956, Williams moved to the Reaction Motors Division of Thiokol Chemical Corporation, where he was responsible for pioneering work on small rocket engines. Grumman International hired Williams as a propulsion engineer in 1961 because of his expertise on liquid-fuel rockets. He had published several papers on the subject, one of which, “On the feasibility of liquid bipropellant rockets for spacecraft attitude control,” was translated into Russian. At Grumman, Williams managed the development of the Apollo Lunar Module reaction control subsystem. Williams was fully responsible for the $42 million effort for eight years. He managed the three engineering groups that developed the small rocket motors—which used 100 pounds of thrust in comparison to the 10,500 pounds of thrust of the lunar module’s main engine—that guided the lunar module, the part of the Apollo spacecraft that actually landed on the moon.

Williams went on to become their company vice president in 1974. After leaving Grumman he became a marketing professor at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, where he had completed an M.B.A. in 1981. Williams was a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, as well as an associate fellow and past chair of its Liquid Rockets Technical Committee. The second African-American to receive a degree in aeronautical engineering, in 1993, O. S. and Doris Reid Williams celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Horace Silver was born on this date. He is an African-American jazz arranger and musician.

Born in Norwalk, Connecticut, Silver grew up listening to the folk music of Cape Verde, as his father was from this Afro-Portuguese nation. He also absorbed the popular jazz, blues and gospel music of the day. He played both saxophone and piano in high school, influenced by Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. He worked for Stan Getz in 1950. During this time, his bop compositions “Split Kick” and “Potter’s Luck” showcased his gifts as a writer. After moving to New York in 1951, Silver played and recorded with Miles Davis, Milt Jackson, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins and others.

He made his first record as a leader with Lou Donaldson in 1952 for Blue Note, which marked an affiliation with the label that lasted 28 years. Silver worked with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1953, and the group’s back-to-basics approach was the start of the hard-bop era. Silver’s profile as a leader and composer rose for the next two decades, especially with his signature tunes including, “Doodlin’,” “Opus De Funk,” “Sister Sadie” and his 1964 Cape Verdean/Bossa Nova hit, “Song For My Father.” Similar to Blakey’s band, his own group became a breeding ground for young talent, including the Brecker Brothers, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw and Benny Golson.

He started his own label in the ‘80s, Silveto, which quickly folded; he currently records for GRP. With a player and compositional style that draws from Black gospel, bebop, Latin and R&B sources, Horace Silver was one of the major musicians of the hard-bop and soul-jazz movements of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Henry Robinson was born in Port Royal, South Carolina. Robinson has served as Mayor of Port Royal, South Carolina.

A total of 1,154,720 Blacks were inducted or drafted into the armed services. Official records listed 7,768 Black commissioned officers on August 31, 1945. At the height of the conflict 3,902 Black women (115 officers) were enrolled in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WACS) and 68 were in the Navy auxiliary, the WAVES. The highest ranking Black women were Major Harriet M. West and Major Charity E. Adams. Distinguished Unit Citations were awarded the 969th Field Artillery Battalion, the 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion and the 332nd Fighter Group.

Tennessee National Guard sent to Clinton, Tenn., to quell mobs demonstrating against school integration.

Frank Robinson was named MVP of the American League.

Joseph Woodrow Hatchett became the first Black State Supreme Court Justice in the South since Reconstruction when he was sworn in on this date in 1975. Hatchett was later chosen by President Carter for a seat on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1979.

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