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