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1783
Richard Allen
, founder of the AME Church, purchases his freedom with his earnings as a self-employed teamster.



1803
Prudence Crandall was born on this date. She was an American abolitionist.

From Rhode Island, after being educated at a Society of Friends school in Plainfield, Connecticut, Crandall established her own private school for girls at Canterbury. The school was a great success until she decided to admit a Black girl. Crandall, a committed Quaker refused to change her policy of educating Black and white children. The result, White parents began taking their children away from the school. In March 1833 with the support of William Lloyd Garrison and the Anti-Slavery Society, Crandall opened a school for Black girls in Canterbury.

Local people were furious at this and many tried to prevent the school from receiving essential materials. The school persisted and began to attract girls from Boston and Philadelphia. The local authorities then began using a vagrancy law that meant the girls could be given ten lashes for attending the school. In 1834 Connecticut passed a law making it illegal to provide a free education for Black students. Crandall refused to obey the law and was imprisoned, but won the case on appeal. When news of the court decision reached Canterbury, a white mob attacked the school forcing Crandall to close her school down.

That same year she moved to Illinois and married a Baptist clergyman. Prudence Crandall died in Elk Falls, Kansas, on January 28, 1890.



1838Frederick Augustus Douglass escaped from slavery in Baltimore disguised as a sailor whose papers he had taken.


1846
On this date, the American Missionary Association (AMA) was founded. The AMA trained and educated slaves; it was the first such organization to teach southern slaves in a creditable and organized manner.

The AMA was both a missionary and abolitionist society focusing more on education to freed slaves after the start of the Civil War. They opened their first school on the grounds of the Chesapeake Female College across the Hampton River in Virginia on September 17, 1861. In just a few years, the AMA opened schools in North Carolina, Morehead, Roanoke Island, and Beaufort. By 1868, the AMA had over five hundred teacher and missionaries throughout the south and near the Border States. Their teachers often lived and worked with BLACK families, yet failed to recognize and encourage the richness of African-American culture.

The AMA’s most positive contribution that has stood the test of time has been the many black colleges and Universities it helped establish. The list includes Fisk University, Breea College, Atlanta University, Talladega College, LeMoyne Institute, and Straight University (now Dillard University).



1865
U.S. Army commander in South Carolina ordered Freedmen’s Bureau to stop seizing abandoned land.


1867
The Sixth Mount Zion Baptist was founded on this date. John Jasper organized Sixth Mount Zion in Richmond, Virginia; he would go on to become one of the nation’s most well-known post Civil War Black ministers.

Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church is still active and since 1869 its congregation has met at the same location in Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward neighborhood. The modern day church was renovated in 1925 by African-American architect
Charles T. Russell. The churches Historical Quilt completed in 1997 was made by members of the churches Victory Club to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the church.

The unique Architectural History of the various structures used by Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church includes other information about its history. Other pastors at Mount Zion include Randolph Payton 1902-1922, A. W. Brown 1924-1967, Barry Hopkins 1968-1972, Isadore Mims 1972-1991 and John Johnson 1993.

The Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church is on both the Virginia and the National Registers of Historic Places.



1868
Henry McNeal Turner delivers a speech before the Georgia legislature defending African Americans’ rights to hold state office. Lower house of Georgia legislature, ruling that Blacks were ineligible to hold office, expelled twenty-eight representatives. Ten days later the senate expelled three Blacks. Congress refused to admit the state until the legislature seated the Black representatives.


1891
John Stephens Durham, Assistant Editor of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, named minister to Haiti.


1891
Cotton pickers organized union and staged strike for higher wages in Texas.


1895
This date marks the birth of Charles Hamilton Houston. He was one of the most important black lawyers of the twentieth century.

Charles Houston was born in Washington, D.C., to Mary Ethel (Hamilton) Houston, a hairdresser, and William Houston, a lawyer. His was a family of jurisprudence. Houston’s father was a graduate of Howard University’s law school. As a young man, he attended the M Street High School (later called Dunbar High School), the first Black high school in the United States. As an early sign of his genius, young Charles graduated as valedictorian of his class. In 1911, he entered Amherst College. In 1915 he graduated from Howard University as valedictorian and Phi Beta Kappa and returned to teach there like his father. Two years later he enlisted in the armed forces and served in World War I. After discharge in 1919, he became the first Black editor of the Harvard law review, where he received his LL. B in 1922 cum laude.

Houston served as special council to the NAACP, becoming its first full-time, paid counsel while teaching at Howard. He was a preeminent anti-discrimination lawyer whose efforts laid the legal groundwork for the Brown v. Board Of Education ruling won by his protégé Thurgood Marshall. Charles Hamilton Houston died in 1950.



1905
On this date, Meade Lux Lewis was born. He was an African-American jazz pianist.

Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois and helped establish boogie-woogie as a major blues piano style in the 1930s and 1940s. Lewis took the rollicking piano form out of the clubs and cat houses and onto the concert stage in 1938 where it’s fast-flowing rhythms and charging solos delighted audiences and eventually laid the groundwork for rhythm & blues and later rock & roll. Lewis was a master boogie-woogie craftsman. He was heavily influenced by such boogie-woogie pioneers as Jimmy Yancey and Pine Top Smith. Lewis recorded “Honky Tonk Train Blues,” his signature piece and a standard in the boogie-woogie repertoire, in 1927, though it wasn’t released by Paramount Records until two years later.

The piece ranks with “Yancey Special” and “Pine Top’s Boogie-Woogie” as the greatest recorded early examples of boogie-woogie piano. Lewis met Albert Ammons, a fellow piano player, who, like Lewis, drove a taxi for a living. Eventually they shared an apartment toget her in the same building where Pine Top Smith resided. All three pianists became good friends, often sharing ideas and jamming together. It is not surprising then that Lewis’s “Honky Tonk Train Blues” bears a striking resemblance to Smith’s “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie.”

After the death of Smith in 1929 at age twenty-five and the onset of the Depression, interest in boogie-woogie faded, forcing Lewis to seek other forms of employment to supplement his meager income from playing the piano. Despite boogie-woogie’s decline, Lewis continued to record in the 1930s, occasionally cutting sides as a session man playing behind singers George Hannah and Bob Robinson. Lewis and Ammons were key figures in the boogie-woogie renaissance of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Contacted by talent scout John Hammond to play his 1938 Spirituals to Swing concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Lewis, along with Ammons and fellow pianist Pete Johnson, so excited concert goers with their bristling boogie-woogie piano passages that the music’s second craze began then and there.

Lewis and his colleagues were booked to play the Café Society, a chic Manhattan club where the best boogie-woogie would be heard through 1941. Lewis remained in New York until that year, at which time interest in boogie-woogie had begun to wither a second time. He relocated in Los Angeles, where he resumed his club work and recording career. Lewis recorded for the ASCH label in 1944, though he and boogie-woogie were no longer vital parts of the blues scene. He also continued to perform, usually in small clubs and lounges. Lewis died in an automobile crash on February the 7th in 1964 in Minneapolis.



1910
Dorothy Leigh Maynor was born on this date. She was an African-American opera singer and educator.

From Norfolk, Virginia, her home was constantly filled with music. Her sister played piano and young Dorothy sang as a child in her father’s church. At the age of 14, she enrolled in the college-preparatory program at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) and began singing in its choir. R. Nathaniel Dett, the school’s famed chorus-master, noticed her talent and encouraged her to become a soloist.

After her graduation from Hampton in 1933, Maynor attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1936, she moved to New York to study privately and led a church choir in Brooklyn. At the 1939 Berkshire Festival in Tanglewood, Massachusetts, she san g for Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He arranged for her to give a performance at a picnic, which led to a rave review in The New York Times. “Her voice is a miracle,” the conductor declared, “a musical revelation that the world must hear.”

Most of the critics echoed Koussevitzky’s comments after Maynor’s New York debut in November 1939, and she was soon “a fixture in the selected group of BLACK artists that included Marian Anderson, Roland Hayes and Paul Robeson. Maynor remained a concert artist though in her day, few opera companies would employ a Black singer. Additionally, her appearance, a plump, angelic figure standing less than five feet tall, also worked against her being cast in the romantic lead roles usually sung by sopranos. She nonetheless learned arias from dozens of operas and featured them in her concerts. One, Depuis le jour, from Charpentier’s “Louise,” became her signature piece, guaranteed to provoke standing ovations.

At the peak of her career, Maynor performed with most of the major American orchestra and was one of the most sought-after and highly paid singers in the concert world. Her recordings were bestsellers and she was regularly heard on popular radio shows. In 1942, Maynor married the Rev. Shelby Rooks, pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church in Harlem. When her husband became ill, she retired from performing to care for him and became active in church affairs. She founded a school for young Black artists. The Harlem School of the Arts began in 1963 with Maynor teaching piano to 12 youngsters in a church annex.

By 1979, when she retired from direction of the school, it occupied a $2 million, 37,000-square-foot facility and enrolled more than 1,000 students in college preparatory programs in performing and visual arts. In 1975, Maynor, never able to sing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, became the first African-American to join its board of directors. She spent her last years out of the limelight, living with her husband in a small town in Pennsylvania. Dorothy Maynor died in 1996.



1918
Five soldiers hanged for alleged participation in Houston riot of 1917.


1919
Lincoln Motion Picture Company owned by African Americans Noble Johnson and Clarence Brooks releases its first feature length film, A Man’s Duty.


1922
Bessie Coleman, pilot and parachutist, made her debut in America on this day. Colman was denied flight training in the U.S. because of her race and gender, so she traveled to France to study at the Ecole d’Aviation des Freres Caudron at Le Crotoy in Somme. Coleman became the first woman of any race to receive an international pilot’s license. She later became an aerobatic flyer and made her living performing aerial stunts. Coleman, who thrilled crowds  with her dives, figure-eights, and loop-the-loops, lived by the motto: “No Uncle Tom stuff for me” and refused to fly before all-White or segregated audiences as she toured he country in air shows. She died on April 30, 1926, when she was catapulted from her plane during a dress rehearsal.


1934
Freddie King was born on this date. He was an African-American Blues musician and singer.

From Gilmer, Texas, his birth name was Freddie Christian and though he was raised in Texas, he matured as a musician in Chicago. His guitar style combined country and urban influences. As a child, King grew up on the music of such legendary country blues guitarists as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup. After he and his family moved to Chicago in 1950, King began hanging out in clubs where the stinging, city-hot guitar work of such Mississippi Delta-rooted blues men as Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, and Eddie Taylor filled the air.

King (no relation to any of the other blues guitarists named King) was one of the lynchpins of modern blues guitar. Along with Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, and Magic Sam, King spearheaded Chicago’s modern blues movement in the early ‘60s and helped set the stage for the blues-rock boom of the late ‘60s. His influence on such blues-rock titans as Eric Clapton helped preserve a legacy characterized by searing, aggressive guitar solos and the welding of blues and rock into one cohesive sound. Though he first recorded in the 1950s-cutting sides for the obscure El-Bee label and doing a few session dates for Chess, King didn’t begin to attract attention until after he signed with Federal Records in 1960. (Federal was a subsidiary of the Cincinnati-based King Record label.)

Under the guidance of pianist and King Records A&R man Sonny Thompson, King’s early-‘60s sessions resulted in such stellar tunes as “Lonesome Whistle Blues” and “I’m Tore Down” (116 k, 10 sec.) as well as a potent rendition of the Bill Myles classic “Have You Ever Loved a Woman.” (Eric Clapton did a version of the song during his Derek and the Dominos days.) In 1994, Clapton cut his own version of “I’m Tore Down” (114 k, 10 sec.) with remarkable resemblance to Freddy’s original. King also recorded numerous instrumentals in the early ‘60s. One song, “Hide Away,” reached number 29 on the Billboard pop charts in 1961 and ranks among the most popular blues instrumentals ever recorded. Named for Mel’s Hideaway Lounge, a noted Chicago blues club, the song showcased King’s guitar prowess and inventiveness in combining catchy themes drawn from blues, rock, and rhythm & blues. Thanks to the popularity of his guitar instrumentals in the early ‘60s, King was able to move freely from blues to R&B to rock-flavored blues and novelty songs like “Bossa Nova Watusi Twist,” “Monkey Donkey,” and “Surf Monkey.” King’s relationship with Federal/King ended in 1968.

Although King’s most productive period was over, he enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the late ‘60s when English blues-rock guitarists such as Clapton, Mick Taylor, and Peter Green began covering King tunes and incorporating elements of his guitar style into their own. This brought King renewed recognition and a growing audience among blues-rock fans, plus new recording contract in 1968 with Cotillion, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. Two years later King jumped to Shelter Records. His last recording contract was with RSO Records in 1974.

Though the bulk of his blues from this era leaned heavily toward funk and rock, his guitar work remained stylish and supple. King was only forty-two years old when he died on December 28, 1976 of bleeding ulcers and heart failure.



1957
A federal judge ruled that the Little Rock Nine were to begin attending Central High immediately.


1960
Wilma Rudolph, track star and polio victim, became the first American woman to win three Olympic Gold Medals in track and field in one year. Rudolph won the 100 (World Record), 200, and 400 meter relay (team World Record) on this date.


1970
Representatives from 27 African nations, the Caribbean nations, four South American countries, Australia, and the U.S. meet in Atlanta for the first Congress of African People.


1989
In what witnesses described as a police attack on Black college students in Virginia Beach, VA, at least four people were injured and 160 were arrested on this date. The students were attempting a Black intercollegiate celebration.


1990
Jonathan A. Rodgers becomes president of CBS’s television stations division, the highest ranking African American in network television. Rodgers had been general manager of WBBM-TV, CBS’s Chicago Station.


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