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African American Jordan Freeman dies after killing Major William Montgomery in the Battle of Groton Heights.

It is widely accepted that John Brown Russwurm was the first Black to graduate college in America on September 6, 1826 at Bowdoin College. He graduated with an A.B. degree. However, just 14 days before Edward Jones graduated B.A. from Amherst College in Massachusetts on August 23, 1826 and Lucius Twilight (B.A. Middlebury College - 1823).

National Black Convention met in Cleveland, OH with some seventy delegates. Frederick Augustus Douglass was elected president of the convention. Douglass also addressed the convention as a delegate. His powerful message on Negro suffrage set the stage for the 15th Amendment, giving Blacks the right to vote.

Thaddeus Stevens, powerful U.S. congressman, urged confiscation of estates of Confederate leaders and the distribution of land to adult freedmen in forty-acre lots.

As a representative of the Republican Convention of Rochester, NY, Fredrick Douglass attended the National Loyalist Convention in Philadelphia, PA. The first Black to attend a national political convention as a delegate, his stirring address in behalf of “Negro suffrage” and the official endorsement of the Convention laid the groundwork for the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to Blacks.

A Race riot occurs in Charleston, South Carolina.

Joel Augustus Rogers was born on this date. He was an African-American writer, lecturer, anthropologist, historian, journalist and publisher.

Rogers was from Negril, Jamaica, his father was a small town schoolteacher. n 1906 he moved to Chicago but spent most of his life in Harlem, New York. Rogers had known Marcus Garvey in Jamaica and in 1917 he became a naturalized U. S. citizen. In 1923 he covered the Marcus Garvey trial, and he wrote for the Universal Negro Improvement Associations weekly newspaper, the Negro World, and lectured to local UNIA chapters. Rogers also researched the global history of African people. In 1925 he went to Europe for analyses in their libraries and museums.

In 1927 he returned to Europe for research and traveled to North Africa during the same period. Between 1935 and 1936 he researched in Egypt and Sudan. At this time he worked as a correspondent for the New York Amsterdam News, attending the coronation of Haile Selassie I, who presented him with the Coronation Medal. Rogers’ organizational affiliations included the Paris Society of Anthropology, the American Geographical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Academy of political science.

For fifty years Rogers investigated and reported the accomplishments of ancient and contemporary African people, contributing to such publications as the Crisis, American Mercury, the Messenger, the Negro World, Pittsburgh Courier and Survey Graphic. When publishing houses refused to publish his works, Rogers published them himself. Rogers wrote and published at least sixteen different books and pamphlets covering the entire spectrum of the global African community, from ancient and modern Africa, to Asia, Australia, the South Pacific, Europe and the Western Hemisphere.

His most acclaimed works are: From Superman to Man his (first) 1917, One-Hundred Amazing Facts About the Negro, The Real Facts About Ethiopia, Sex and Race, Nature Knows No Color-Line, and World’s Great Men of Color. Rogers was the first Black war correspondent. Rogers became a scholar unparalleled in assembling information about African people, and probably did more to popularize African history than any single writer of the twentieth century. Joel Augustus Rogers died in 1966.

George “Little Chocolate” Dixon beats Jack Skelly in New Orleans to win the world featherweight title. While some African American citizens celebrate for two days, the New Orleans Times-Democrat says, “It is a mistake to match a Negro and a white man bring the races together on any terms of equality even in the prize ring.”

Atlanta Life Insurance Company established by A.F. Herndon.

On this date we celebrate the opening of Holmes Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles. It was the first school in that city where Black teachers who had teaching experience could secure a job.

Originally called Fifty First Street School it was built next to the Furlong Tract, a Black settlement established in a subdivided area. Holmes was also the first school in Los Angeles specifically built for a Black area. Holmes Avenue Elementary School was rebuilt in 1922 after a fire and was remodeled in 1933 after the earthquake.

For many years, the staff at Holmes Avenue was totally White. When the district finally did hire Black staff members, most had received their training in El Centro. Presently, Holmes Avenue Elementary School consists of a two story front building and a newer three-story rear section with a single story building along one side. The three-story building had all new floors, ceilings, lights and air conditioning installed. In 1999, new shrubbery was added on the playground with Fichus trees lining the main corridor.

Also, A Wonder of Reading Library was recently completed. The entire exterior will be repainted in 2002 and new smoke windows will replace the plastic filmed graffiti on the windows.

On this date, Jimmy Reed was born. He was an African-American blues guitarist and singer.

There is simply no sound in the blues as easily digestible, accessible, instantly recognizable and as easy to play and sing as the music of Jimmy Reed. He was born on a plantation in or around the small burg of Dunleith, Mississippi, sticking around the area until he was 15, learning the basic rudiments of harmonica and guitar from his buddy Eddie Taylor.

Reed moved up to Chicago in 1943, but was quickly drafted into the Navy, where he served for two years. After a quick trip back to Mississippi and marriage to his wife Mary (known to blues fans as “Mama Reed”), he moved to Gary, Indiana, and found work at an Armour Foods meat packing plant while simultaneously breaking into the burgeoning blues scene around Gary and neighboring Chicago. The early ‘50s found him working as a sideman with John Brim’s Gary Kings and playing on the street for cash with Willie Joe Duncan, a shadowy figure who played an amplified, homemade one-string instrument called a Unitar. After failing an audition with Chess Records, Brim’s drummer at the time improbably enough, future blues guitar legend Albert King brought him over to the newly formed Vee-Jay Records where his first recordings were made.

It was here that he was reunited and started playing again with Eddie Taylor, a musical partnership that would last off and on for the rest of Reed’s life. Success was slow in coming, but when his third single, You Don’t Have to Go backed with Boogie in the Dark, made the number five slot on Billboard’s R&B charts, the hits pretty much kept on coming for the next decade. Selling more records than Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James or Little Walter brought the rewards of fame, and no one was more ill-equipped to handle it than Jimmy Reed. With signing his name for fans being the total sum of his literacy, combined with a backbreaking road schedule once he became a name attraction and his self-description as a “liquor glutter,” Reed started to fall apart.

His devious schemes to tend to his alcoholism and the aberrant behavior that came as a result of it quickly made him the laughing stock of his show business contemporaries. Those who shared the bill with him in top-of-the-line R&B venues like the Apollo Theater still shake their heads and wonder how Jimmy could actually stand up straight and perform, much less hold the audience in the palm of his hand. Little wonder then that when he was stricken with epilepsy in 1957, it went undiagnosed for an extended period of time, simply because he had experienced so many attacks of delirium tremens, better known as the “DTs.” His best-known songs Baby, What You Want Me to Do, Bright Lights, Big City, Honest I Do, You Don’t Have to Go, Going to New York, Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby and Big Boss Man have become an integral part of the standard blues repertoire.

Because his style was simple and easily imitated, his songs were accessible to just about everyone making him one of the most influential blues-men of all. His bottom string boogie rhythm guitar patterns, simple two-string turnarounds, harmonica solos (all played in a neck rack attachment hung around his neck) and vocals were a formula that proved to be successful and influential, both with middle-aged Blacks and young White audiences for a good dozen years. Jimmy Reed records hit the R&B charts with amazing frequency and crossed over onto the pop charts on many occasions, a rare feat for an unreconstructed blues-man.

His slow descent into the ravages of alcoholism and epilepsy roughly paralleled the decline of Vee-Jay Records, which went out of business at approximately the same time that his final 45 was released, “Don’t Think I’m Through.” Jimmy Reed finally received proper medical attention for his epilepsy and he quit drinking. Yet, it was too late and he died trying to make a comeback on the blues festival circuit on August 29, 1976.

Leander Jay Shaw, Jr., justice of the Florida State Supreme Court (1983), first African American chief justice (1990) in Florida, the second African American chief justice in any state Supreme Court, is born in Salem, VA.

Havana-born outfielder Carlos Paula integrated the Washington Senators on this date.

The next season, his only full campaign in the majors, Paula nearly won the Rookie of the Year award. Though he led all major league rookies in batting at .299, he also led the league’s right fielders in errors and didn’t win the award.

In the next season, his last in the majors, he played only 33 games before being sent back to Triple-A.

Rafer Johnson made history on this day when he crossed the finish line to win the Olympic Decathlon, the first Black to do the feat. The Texas native, who was born in 1935, got his inspiration from watching Olympian Bob Mathias train, and dedicated himself to being the best. He was captain of the track and field teams at UCLA, where he trained to qualify for the 1956 Olympics. He took second place that year, earning a silver medal. Sports Illustrated noticed his incredible athletic abilities and named him “Sportsman of the Year” in 1958. In 1960, he participated in the Summer Olympics as captain of the U.S. Team. It was this year that he made his historic, record-breaking win. Johnson retired after the win, going on to work for People to People International, act in films, as a sports broadcaster, and a Peace Corps recruiter. Johnson revisited his Olympic roots when in 1984 he was asked to light the Olympic Flame during the opening ceremonies. He tells his story in an autobiography titled The Best That I Can Be.

A race riot occurs in Atlanta.

President Lyndon B. Johnson named Walter E. Washington Commissioner and “unofficial” mayor of Washington, D.C. Washington was the first Black man to head the government of a major American city.

The Kingdom of Swaziland and the Republic of Mauritius achieved full independence from Great Britain, with Swaziland as a constitutional monarchy.

Today is the birthday of singer, Macy Gray.

On this date, Foxy Brown was born.

Willie Stargell, of the Pittsburgh Pirates, sees his uniform, number 8, retired by the Bucs. It is the fourth Pirate player’s uniform to be so honored. The other three belonged to Roberto Clemente (#21), Honus Wagner (#33) and Pie Traynor (#20).

Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, pediatrics doctor and neurosurgeon, led a 70-member surgical team in separating two 7-month-old Siamese twin boys joined at the head in a 22-hour operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital on this day. The twins were born connected at the back of the head and shared a major vein, but their brains were separate. The operation was the second attempted separation of Siamese twins in Hopkins’ 98-year history. Born in Detroit, Carson earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Yale University in 1973 and a medical degree from the University Of Michigan School Of Medicine in 1977. Carson’s work makes him one of the most notable Black neurosurgeons in the nation. He has written three books, Gifted Hands, Think Big and The Big Picture.

Lee Roy Young Jr., a 14-year veteran of the State Department of Safety, became the first Black Texas Ranger in the group’s 165-year history on this day. During a news conference in Austin, Young, a graduate of the University of Texas who worked as a criminal intelligence investigator in San Antonio, stated that as a young child, he dreamed of being a Ranger and said that the reality had pretty much lived up to the dream. Texas Rangers are charged with four duties: protection of life and property by enforcing state criminal statutes; suppressing riots and insurrections; investigating major crimes and apprehending fugitives. The history of the Texas Rangers began in 1820 when the Mexican Government gave permission for 300 families to enter the territory of Texas. On August 10, 1823, permission was granted to employ ten men from a group of volunteers to protect the new Texas frontier.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation bans Ben Johnson of Canada from competition, after he tests positive for steroids. He is also stripped of all of his track records.

The National Party, the governing party of South Africa, loses nearly a quarter of its parliamentary seats to far-right and anti-apartheid rivals, its worst setback in four decades.

American dancer, choreographer, and scholar Katherine Dunham dies. She was a pioneer in the use of folk and ethnic choreography, and considered one of the founders of the anthropological dance movement. With “Aida” in 1963, she became the first Black to choreograph for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

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