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1866
Charles Harrison Mason is born on the Prior Farm near Memphis, Tennessee. He will be inspired by the autobiography of evangelist Amanda Berry Smith in 1893, and will found and organize the “Church of God in Christ,” in Memphis, Tennessee in 1907.


1875
The Governor of Mississippi requests federal troops to protect African American voters. Attorney General Edward Pierrepont refuses the request and says “the whole public are tired of these annual autumnal outbreaks in the South...”


1882
Sarah Mapps Douglass, abolitionist, died in Philadelphia, PA on this date, one day before her 76th birthday.


1887
Roland Hayes was born on this date. He was an African-American concert singer.

A native of Georgia, and the son of ex-slaves, his family moved to Tennessee when he was thirteen. He obtained his basic music training in Chattanooga and in Nashville. Later he studied in Boston and in London. Roland Hayes began singing in public during his student days and in 1911 toured with the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Seizing every opportunity to sing before an audience, Hayes arranged his own recitals including Jordan Hall and Symphony Hall in Boston.. He organized several coast to coast tours becoming well known in the American Black communities.

Though a talented success, he was not one financially and like many American artists before him, Roland Hayes headed for Europe. There, slowly but surely, he became known in many circles. He was invited to sing before the King and Queen of England. Upon returning to America, He performed throughout the western world and enjoyed an international reputation as a concert tenor during the 1920’s, 30’s & 40’s.

Hayes was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP, taught at Ohio State University and received numerous awards for outstanding contributions in music and the betterment of his people and all people. He was the first Black male to win acclaim in America and Europe as a philharmonic singer. Roland Hayes died in 1977.



1907
This date marks the birth of Buck Leonard. He was an African-American baseball player, one of the best at his position in the Negro Baseball leagues.

Leonard began his baseball career as a semi-pro star in his hometown of Rocky Mount, North Carolina but in 1933 he was forced by the depression to leave home to pursue a professional career.

That season he played successively for the Portsmouth Black Revels, Baltimore Stars, and Brooklyn Royal Giants, as an outfielder. Smokey Joe Williams saw him playing with the Royals and connected him with the Homestead Grays for the 1934 season and Leonard remained with the Grays through the 1950 season. During his tenure in the Gray’s flannels, he quickly gained the respect and appreciation of inside baseball men. He was also a favorite of the fans, and became a fixture in the annual East-West All-Star classic. In 1948 Buck was selected to the East squad’s starting lineup, marking his 11th game, an All-Star record. In this star-studded competition, he compiled a.317 average and banged out three home runs to establish another All-Star game record.

When the opportunity finally came to play in the major leagues, Buck’s age, legs and good sense told him that the opportunity had come too late. Fortunately, although national recognition of his great talent also came late, it was not too late, for Buck was still able to smell the roses when he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame along with Josh Gibson in 1972. He was the left-handed half of the homestead Gray’s power tandem, Buck Leonard paired with Josh Gibson to lead Cum Posey’s Grays to nine consecutive Negro National League championships during their untroubled years, 1937-45. While Josh was slugging tape-measure home runs, Buck was hitting screaming line drives off the walls and over the walls. Trying to sneak a fastball past him.



1911
James Black was one of the first famous Black Astrologer in the early 70’s! He lived in Chicago on the Southside. He was born around 1910-1911! He read for clients like Earth Wind & Fire, Aura Ajayi, a famous psychic and countless more all over the world! He was once featured in Ebony Magazine!


1922
Samuel Riley Pierce, Jr. was born on this date in Glen Cove, NY. He was an African-American lawyer and politician.

He graduated from Cornell University in 1947 and received a law degree from Cornell Law School in 1949. He earned a Master of Laws degree from New York University School of Law in 1952.

From 1953 to 1955, he was an assistant United States attorney in New York. In 1955, he became an assistant to the undersecretary of labor. In 1959 and 1960, Pierce served as a New York state judge. In 1961, Pierce became a partner in the law firm where he remained until becoming secretary of HUD. He left the firm temporarily from 1970 to 1973 to serve as general counsel for the Department of the Treasury.

Pierce served as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from 1981 to 1989. He then became the first black to serve in President Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet. In 1989, the U. S. Congress began an investigation to determine whether Pierce had engaged in mismanagement and abuse of resources and funds as secretary of HUD. The investigators concluded that, under Pierce, the department had become a center of influence peddling and favoritism toward Pierce’s friends and political allies. They reported that Pierce and his aides may have illegally steered large amounts of government money toward projects developed by influential Republicans.

As a result, according to the investigators, millions, if not billions, of dollars were wasted. The funded projects involved the renovation of low-income housing. In early 1990, a special prosecutor was appointed to determine whether Pierce or his aides had committed any crimes. The scope of the prosecutor’s investigation was later expanded to cover a number of other areas, including Pierce’s role in several other housing programs.

In the early 1990’s, several of Pierce’s aides were found guilty or pleaded guilty to charges related to influence peddling and favoritism. In 1995, prosecutors announced that Pierce would not be charged. Pierce died November 2000.



1925
Ossian Sweet, a prominent Detroit doctor, is arrested on murder charges after shots are fired into a mob in front of the Sweet home in a previously all-white area.  Sweet is defended by Clarence Darrow, who won an acquittal in the second trial.


1940
Willie Tyler is born in Red Level, Alabama. He will become a well known ventriloquist along with his wooden partner, Lester.


1944
Fred Benjamin was born on this date. He is an African-American dancer, choreographer, and instructor.

From Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin began dancing at age four at Elma Lewis’ School of Fine Arts in Roxbury. He danced with the Talley Beatty Company from 1963 until 1966, when they folded. Two years later, he started his own New York-based Fred Benjamin Dance Company, which existed, largely without funding, for 20 years. Like most African-American choreographers of the time, his work was compared to that of Alvin Ailey, but Benjamin modeled himself after his idol, Beatty.

The group movement in “Parallel Lines,” the emphasis on entrances in a work such as “Our Thing,” and many other works all echoed Beatty’s influence. Benjamin added ballet to Beatty’s modern, energized style and helped popularize the genre known as ballet-jazz. He introduced many inner-city youth to dance through the Harlem Cultural Council’s annual Dance Mobile series, but his greatest gift may have been in teaching. This is underscored most at New York’s Clark Center for the Performing Arts and Steps studios.

Benjamin has also worked extensively in theatrical dance. He has taught in the Netherlands, worked in summer stock, and danced with the June Taylor Dancers. On Broadway he worked with Gower Champion and Michael Bennett and performed in such hits as “Hello, Dolly!” and “Promises, Promises.”



1954
Ruby Bridges was born on this date. She is an African-American activist.

Bridges was born in a little cabin around Tylerton, Mississippi; her family was very poor. Her father Abon and mother, Lucille, were determined to get their daughter an equal education and take a stand. Due to their strong actions, her father was fired from his job, and her grandparents were forced to leave a farm where they had been sharecroppers for 25 years. On Nov. 14, 1960 in New Orleans Bridges was the focus of the historic day public schools were integrated.

She did not know what it meant and wondered (at the time) why white adults were trying to keep her from an education. Through it all, her parents walked beside her to the school, holding her hand; knowing how this would benefit their children and future children. Although, many consider Bridges a hero, for her the real heroes are her parents. She clearly remembers the white federal marshals, with bands around their arms, escorting her that day from her car and into the building. It was Ruby’s first day as a first-grader at William Frantz School. She spent most of the day in the principals office, when she entered her new classroom, there were no students and she thought that she was early. What had happened was the white parents had taken their children out of school that day.

The pain six-year-old Ruby experienced 37 years ago is still felt as a grown-up. According to Bridges, 37 years ago, fate led her to the job of improving the quality of education for all Black children. Currently, Bridges reaches out to parents and encourages them to take an active part in their children’s education.

She tries to make them understand that education has no limitations, she stresses moral responsibility to one another regardless of the color of our skin, social, economic, or political status and all can to ensure a better life for children and us.



1956
Maurice Cheeks is born. He will become a professional basketball player and will play guard for the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia ‘76ers.


1957
Althea Gibson, tennis champion, became the first Black to win a major United States national championship on this day when she defeated Louise Brough, 6-3, 6-2, in Forest Hills, NY. Vice President Richard Nixon handed Gibson the trophy filled with gladioli and red roses. Gibson broke the color barrier in tennis in the 1950s by becoming the first Black player to compete at a national tennis championship. At 5-foot-11, Gibson used an attacking serve-and-volley style to dominate women’s tennis from 1956-1958, winning 11 Grand Slam titles: five in singles, five in doubles, and one in mixed doubles. Her first major singles title came in 1956 at the French Open, and she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1957-58. She was honored as the Associated Press’ Female Athlete of the Year in 1957 and 1958, and, after her 1957 Wimbledon victory, she was given a parade in New York City. Gibson went on to become the first Black player on the LPGA when she retired from tennis. She wrote two books, I Always Wanted To Be Somebody and So Much To Live For. Gibson died on September 28, 2003, in East Orange, NJ. She was 76.


1965
Dorothy Dandridge, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in “Carmen Jones,” joins the ancestors at the age of 41 in Hollywood, California. She had starring rolls in “Carmen Jones” (1954) and “Porgy and Bess” (1959).


1968
Black Panther Huey Newton is convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an Oakland policeman. He will later begin a 2 to l5-year jail sentence.


1968
The first “Miss Black America Pageant,” a contest held exclusively for African American women, was held in Atlantic City. Saundra Williams was crowned the first Miss Black America in a contest held exclusively for African American women in Atlantic City, New Jersey.


1973
Hank Aaron sets the record for most Home Runs in one league (709).


1975
The City of Boston begins court ordered citywide busing of public schools amid scattered incidents of violence.


1981
Roy Wilkins, the second Executive Director of NAACP, died in New York. He was born in 1901.


1986
Oprah Winfrey made television history on this date when she became the first Black woman to host a nationally syndicated talk show.


1990
Marjorie Judith Vincent of Illinois is selected as Miss America in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Haitian native, a third-year law student at Duke University, is the fourth woman of African descent to become Miss America.


2001
On this date, two African-American women decided the women’s U. S. Open tennis tournament championship for the first time. The opponents also were sisters.

Additionally this was the first Grand Slam final between African-Americans and sisters had not played in a slam final since 1884 at Wimbledon.
Venus Williams (21) and Serena Williams (19) from Compton, California played two sets at Arthur Ashe stadium in New York City with Venus winning 6-2, 6-4.

After the match Venus said, “This is our first Grand Slam together and really that’s the way I’d like it to be, then both of us win in a way.”


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