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Prince Hall, a black leader in Boston and founder of the world’s first lodge of black Freemasonry and the first society in American history devoted to social, political, and economic improvement, the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons of Boston, was born the slave of William Hall of Boston.

The birth of Mary Jane Patterson is celebrated on this date. She was a Black teacher.

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Patterson was the oldest of Henry and Emeline Patterson’s seven children. In 1856, she and her family moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where they joined a growing community of free Black families who worked to send their children to the college. Her father worked as a master mason, and for many years the family boarded large numbers of Black students in their home. In 1862, she graduated from Oberlin College, becoming the first Black woman to receive a B. A. degree from an established American college. Eventually, four Patterson children graduated from Oberlin College, all became teachers.

Mary Jane Patterson’s first known teaching appointment was in 1865, when she became an assistant to Fanny Jackson in the Female Department of the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia. In 1869, Patterson accepted a teaching position in Washington, D.C., at the newly organized Preparatory High School for Colored Youth later known as Dunbar High School. She served as the school’s first Black principal, from 1871 to 1874. During her administration, the name “Preparatory High School” was dropped, high school commencements were initiated, and a teacher-training department was added.

Patterson’s commitment to thoroughness as well as her personality helped her establish the school’s strong intellectual standards. Patterson also devoted time and money to other Black institutions in Washington, D.C., especially to industrial schools for young Black women, as well as to the Home for Aged and Infirm Colored People. She never married, nor did her two Oberlin-educated sisters (Chanie and Emeline); who later joined her and taught in district schools.

Patterson died in Washington, D.C., September 24, 1894, at the age of fifty-four. Her pioneering educational attainments and her achievements as a leading Black educator influenced generations of Black students.

Florence Kelley was born on this date. She was an American activist for civil rights and social reform.

The daughter of United States congressman, William D. Kelley, she studied at Cornell University and the University of Zurich. While in Europe she became a follower of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Kelley moved to New York City and then to Chicago with her three children. Soon after arriving in the city she joined the social reformers at Hull House. John Peter Altgeld was one of the many visitors to Hull House. When he was elected governor of Illinois in 1892, he appointed Kelley as the state’s first chief factory inspector.

Kelley recruited a staff of twelve and in 1894 they managed to persuade the state legislature to pass legislation controlling child labor. This included a law limiting women and children to a maximum eight-hour day. A strong supporter of women’s suffrage and African American civil rights, Kelley helped to establish the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. A committed pacifist, Kelley opposed USA involvement in the First World War and was a member of the Woman’s Peace Party (WPP) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

Kelley wrote several books including Some Ethical Gains Through Legislation (1905), Modern Industry in Relation to the Family (1914), The Supreme Court and Minimum Wage Legislation (1925) and Autobiography (1927). Florence Kelley died in Germantown on February 17, 1932.

The founding of Avery Normal Institute is celebrated on this date. Located in Charleston, SC, Avery Normal Institute was a nationally recognized African-American educational institution that trained young adults in professional careers and leaderships roles for nearly 100 years.

Avery Normal Institute came into existence with the aid of the American Missionary Association. While offering “general” courses (farming, sewing, cooking, millinery, laundry, housekeeping, etc.), Avery gave its students a classical education too, with courses in history, government, economics, languages, literature and methods of teaching, natural philosophy, and physiology. In the early 1880’s, Avery served as the only educational institution in Charleston that prepared “promising” blacks for college, playing a role in the development of the professional class of Blacks.

Avery students managed to become doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and teachers, participating in a movement of upward mobility not only of the black elite, but also of former slaves and working class blacks. The developing aspirations of blacks during this time period experienced the heavy influence of the ideals set forth by the northern missionaries, placing a good deal of importance on the notion of progress. This idea of “progress” shaped the new Charleston Black elite, and both exacerbated and ameliorated racial tensions of the day.

Charleston residents like Mamie Garvin Fields avoided Avery, feeling that the school helped maintain intra-segregation, or segregation within blacks between light-skinned and dark-skinned individuals. Others believed, however, that the work done at Avery by its students served to lessen such divisions, adopting the missionary ideals of guiding the race to a better future.

The Avery Normal Institute closed in 1954, but its graduates carried on its legacy and tradition of community leadership and educational excellence. This was especially apparent in 1978 when Avery graduates organized the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture, a community-based historical society.

Madame Sul-Te-Wan was born on this date. She was an African-American actress. Wan was the first Black woman contracted to appear in one of the most controversial films in American Cinematic history, Birth of a Nation.

From Louisville, Kentucky, her real name was Nellie Conley. Young Conley helped her widowed mother, a washerwoman who worked for actresses. She delivered laundry to stars at the stage door and was often allowed inside to see the shows. The following day she would rehearse the act at school in front of classmates, avowing that she too would be an actress someday. She playe d the historical figure Tituba, the powerful, misunderstood victim of the Salem witch-hunts in Maid of Salem (1937).

For over fifty years Wan played in a number of silent films and many award winning features as well. Some of them include: Tarzan and the Trappers (1958) Witch Woman, Carmen Jones (1954) (unaccredited) Carmen’s Grandma, Sullivan’s Travels (1942) (unaccredited) Church Organist, Maryland (1940) Naomi, Tell No Tales (1939) (unaccredited) Jim Alley’s Mother, In Old Chicago (1937) Hattie, King Kong (1933) (uncredited) Maid, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1927) (unaccredited) Slave, Birth of a Nation, The (1915) (unaccredited) A Black Woman.

Her last films were Rhapsody in Blue (1945), Mighty Joe Young (1949), Carmen Jones (1954), Something of Value (1957), The Buccaneer (1958), Porgy and Bess (1959). With stage and film career of over 70 years, Madame Sul-Te-Wan died on Feb 1st, 1959.

This date marks the birth of Jesse Owens. He was an African-American sprinter and one of the greatest track-and-field athletes of all time.

He was born
James Cleveland Owens in Danville, Alabama, and educated at Ohio State University. He competed in interscholastic track meets while attending high school, excelling in the running broad jump, the 100-yd dash, and the 220-yd dash. As a member of the Ohio State University track squad in 1935, he established a world record of 26 ft 8’ in. for the running broad jump; the next year he set a new world record of 10.2 sec for the 100-m dash.

A member of the U.S. track team in the 1936 Olympic Games, held in Berlin, Owens won four gold medals. He won the 100-m dash in 10.3 sec, equaling the Olympic record; set a new Olympic and world record of 20.7 sec in the 200-m dash; and won the running broad jump with a leap of 26 ft 5– in., setting a new Olympic record. He was also a member of the U. S. 400-m relay team that year, which set a new Olympic and world record of 39.8 sec. Despite Owens’s outstanding athletic performance, German leader Adolf Hitler refused to acknowledge his Olympic victories because Hitler’s notion of the superior Aryan race and the inferiority of Black athletes.

Owens went on to play an active role in youth athletic programs and later established his own public relations firm. His autobiography, The Jesse Owens Story, was published in 1970. Among his honors was the Medal of Freedom presented to him by President Gerald Ford in 1976. He died in 1980.

Richard H. Hunt, artist and sculptor, was born in Chicago, Illinois on this date. A graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, he later studied in Europe and was considered one of the leading sculptors in the United States and became known as one of the “most gifted and assured artists working in the direct open form medium...” Hunt did not work with paint, brush and canvas, but with blow-torch, hammer and metal. The creations of Richard Hunt stand in modernistic splendor in public and private collections extensively throughout the United States and abroad. Carrying titles such as Lenear Spatioal Form, Branching Construction, and Standing Forms, Hunt’s messages in metal have placed him in the vanguard of modern art. His sculptures are part of the permanent collections of museums in Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Buffalo, Milwaukee and Israel, in places such as the collections of the National Museum of American Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of the Twentieth Century in Vienna.

Barry White was born on this date. He was an African-American singer and composer.

From Galveston, TX he was raised in Los Angeles. White dove in the California music scene while still very young, playing piano on Jesse Belvin’s hit, “Goodnight My Love”, at the age of 11. White also made several records during the early 60s, under the name “Barry Lee”, and as a member of the Upfronts, the Atlantic’s and the Majestics. Soon he found greater success guiding the careers of, amongst others, Felice Taylor and Viola Wills. In 1969 White put together “Love Unlimited,” a female vocal trio made up of Diane Taylor, Glodean James (his future wife) and her sister Linda.

He also founded the Love Unlimited Orchestra, a 40-piece group to accompany himself and the singing trio. Here he conducted, composed and arranged. Love Unlimited’s success in 1972 with “Walkin’ In The Rain With The One I Love.” With White’s gravelly, passion-soaked voice on the telephone this song revitalized his career. Also at this time he had hits with “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby”, “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” (1973), “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe” and “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” (1974).

He established a formula where catchy pop/soul melodies were blended with sweeping arrangements and his husky growl. The style quickly moved to self-parody and the sexual content of the lyrics grew. Although his pop hits lessened towards the end of the 70s, he remained the idolatry subject of live performances.

Whites last major hit was 1977’s Top 5 “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me”. The following year he graced the UK Top 20 with a cover version of Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are”. He later had several recordings with Glodean White, with little success before returning to the UK Top 20 in 1987 with “Sho’ You Right”. In 1992, singer Lisa Stansfield and White re-recorded a version of Stansfield’s hit, “All Around The World”. At the same time a series of commercially successful albums proved White’s status as more than just a cult figure.

He enjoyed a larger resurgence with 1994 album “The Icon Is Love,” and his ballad “Practice What You Preach” became his first No. 1 hit in 17 years. Toward the end of the 1990s, his songs were regularly featured on the Fox comedy series “Ally McBeal” and he made an appearance on the show as himself. Whites single “Staying Power,” off a 1999 album of the same name, won him two Grammy’s. That same year White’s chronic blood pressure problem forced him to cancel several live performances with the group Earth, Wind & Fire and he was briefly hospitalized.

Barry White died on the 4th of July 2003. His survivors include eight children, grandchildren, and his companion Catherine Denton.

First Black baseball player in the major leagues, Jackie Robinson, named National League Rookie of the Year.

Floyd Patterson first professional fight took place. He was the first to hold the world heavyweight championship twice.

Black students entered Clay, KY, elementary school under National Guard protection. They were barred from the school on September 17.

The United States Supreme Court orders a Little Rock, Arkansas high school to admit African American students.

Ralph Boston of the United States sets the long jump record at 27’ 4”.

On this date, John McKay and the University of Southern California Trojans beat Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide. The final score: USC 42, Alabama 21 was only part of the story. That USC-Bama game remains one of the most proclaimed in college athletics, forever changing college football.

When the Trojans went down to the deep South, they were the first fully integrated team to play in Alabama. An all-Black backfield of quarterback
Jimmy Jones, running back Clarence Davis, and fullback Sam “Bam” Cunningham led Southern Cal. College football in Alabama and in the South was never the same. As former Bryant assistant coach Jerry Claiborne noted, “Sam Cunningham did more to integrate Alabama in 60 minutes that night than Martin Luther King had accomplished in 20 years.” Jimmy Jones, among the first wave of Division I black quarterbacks, put it more concisely: “It was no ordinary day.”

In 1992, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that after Cunningham had ripped through Alabama’s defense, “Suddenly, it was clear to Bryant that signing black players was no longer an issue of conscience: It was now a matter of winning. That night Bryant told his closest friends that he would begin recruiting black players.”

The beginning of court-ordered busing to achieve racial integration in Boston’s public schools is marred by violence in South Boston.

Haile Selassie was deposed by military leaders after being the ruling monarch of Ethiopia since 1930.

Eugene A. Marino, SSJ, is consecrated at the first African American Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop in the U.S. He is assigned to Washington, D.C.

One of the greatest sons of Africa, Steven Biko, and a Black South African student were brutally murdered by the, then, government of apartheid in South Africa. Biko was a thinker, intellect and a father. His philosophy was that, “blacks must be proud to be black and blacks must redefine themselves. We as South Africans, this month, we are mourning his demise that happened in 1977/9/12. In our hearts his spirit lives on. Biko would have been 55 (in 2002) now. In a small town where his was born they formed a foundation for young African kids who don’t have anything, that is poor, the foundation was named after the late great Bantu Biko. Biko didn’t die in vain because some of his mission has been accomplished. Biko is not dead; no he is resting peace full with other great sons and daughters of Africa. May God bless them and Africa as a continent.” To this there was an international outcry.

Lillian Randolph joins the ancestors at the age of 65. She had been a film actress and had starred on television on the “Amos ‘n’ Andy Show” and in the mini-series “Roots”.

Michael Jordan signs a seven-year contract to play basketball with the Chicago Bulls. “Air” Jordan will become an NBA star for the Bulls and help make the team a dominant force in the NBA.

Dwight Gooden, of the New York Mets, sets a rookie strikeout record by striking out his 251st batter of the season. He also leads the Mets to a 2-0 shutout over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The National Council of Negro Women sponsors its first Black Family Reunion at the National Mall in Washington, DC. The reunion, which will grow to encompass dozens of cities and attract over one million people annually, is held to celebrate and applaud the traditional values, history, and culture of the African American family.

David Dinkins, Manhattan borough president, wins the New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary, defeating incumbent Mayor Ed Koch and two other candidates on his way to becoming the city’s first African American mayor.

Dr. Mae C. Jemison, physician and astronaut, became the first Black woman in space on this day. She boarded the Space Shuttle Endeavor at 10:23 A.M. and did not land until 190 hours and 30 minutes later. As a mission specialist, Dr. Jemison researched biofeedback, a process which uses relaxation and mental exercises to control body functions. During her eight days in space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor, she conducted experiments on physiological conditions encountered in space. The Alabama-born, Chicago-raised prodigy earned her chemical engineering and African-American studies degrees from Stanford University in 1977 at 16. She completed her doctoral studies at New York’s Cornell University Medical College in 1981. Before she joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), she served as a doctor for the Peace Corps in Liberia and Sierra Leone. She left NASA in 1993 and currently supervises her Texas-based technology firms she founded, as well as her international science camp for children and teens, called “The Earth We Share.”

Twenty years to the date of his death, South African freedom-fighter, Steve Biko, was honored at a ceremony in South Africa on this date. President Nelson Mandela took part in the ceremony.

Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs becomes the fourth major league baseball player to hit 60 home runs in a single season.

Serena and Venus Williams (sisters) take home the U.S. Open Women’s Doubles Championship trophy.  After losing the first set, they bounce back to win the remaining two sets against Chandra Rubin of the U.S. and Sandrine Testud of France. The Williams sisters are the first African Americans to win a U.S. Open Doubles Championship.

James Perkins, Jr. became the first Black mayor of Selma, AL, when he beat incumbent Mayor Joseph Smitherman on this day. Smitherman was the mayor of Selma in 1965 when sheriff’s deputies and state troopers attacked hundreds of voting rights marchers on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge in what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The computer consultant had unsuccessfully run against Smitherman twice before, trying to break the former segregationist’s 9-term, 36-year streak. Perkins received 60 percent of the vote in a special runoff election. The Selma native was born in 1953 and earned his bachelor’s degree from Alabama A&M University followed by studies at Auburn University. A father of four, he is currently mayor and resides with his wife in Selma.

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