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
The birth of Mary
Jane Patterson is celebrated on this date. She was a Black
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
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.
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.
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
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”
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
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
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.
States Supreme Court orders a Little Rock, Arkansas high school to admit African
Ralph Boston of the United States sets the long jump record at 27’
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.
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
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
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.