On this date, Jonathan
Edwards Jr. (1745-1801) preached a strong anti-slavery
sermon before “the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom and for the
Relief of Persons unlawfully holden in Bondage.” Edwards was a Congregationalist
minister, like his more famous father, and later became president of Union College
in Schenectady, N.Y. The sermon became one of the earliest
anti-slavery publications in the Library of Congress collections, demonstrating
abolition as a social movement in the early days of the republic.
The first National
Negro Convention began in Philadelphia.
This date marks
the birth of Jan E.
Matzeliger. He was an African-American inventor best known for his
shoe-lasting machine that mechanically shaped the upper portions of shoes.
Born in Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana [now Suriname], the
son of a Dutch father and a black Surinamese mother, Matzeliger began work as a
sailor on a merchant ship at the age of 19. After about six years settled in Lynn, MA
where he found employment in a shoe factory and became interested in the
possibilities of lasting shoes by machine. Working alone and at night for six
months, he produced a model in wood and on March 20, 1883, received a patent.
His invention won swift acceptance and within two years had largely supplanted
hand methods in Lynn.
His patent was subsequently bought by Sydney W. Winslow, who established the United Shoe Machine Company. The continued success of this business brought about a 50% reduction in the price of shoes across the nation, doubled wages, and improved working conditions for millions of people dependent on the shoe industry for their livelihood. The patent number is 459,899.
Matzeliger received several other patents for shoe-manufacturing machinery,
including an improved model of his first lasting machine. He died Aug. 24,
1889, in Lynn, Mass., when only 37, long before he had the chance to realize a share of the
enormous profit derived from his invention.
Edward Bouchet was born on this date. He was an
African-American educator, physicist and administrator.
From New Haven, Connecticut the youngest and only son of
four children, Edward Alexander Bouchet was born to William and Susan (Cooley)
Bouchet. His father William Bouchet migrated to New Haven
from South Charleston, South
Carolina in 1824 for he was the valet of a young plantation owner,
the future father of Judge A. Heaton Robinson of New Haven, Connecticut.
After his owner graduated, he freed William Bouchet and gave him money to start
a business. He became prominent in New Haven’s
Negro community, serving as deacon of the Temple Street
Church, the oldest Negro
church in the city, and a stopping point for fugitive slaves along the
During the 1850s and 1860s New Haven
had only three schools that Black children could attend. Young Bouchet was
enrolled in the Artisan
School, a small un-graded
school with one teacher. In 1866, he attended the New Haven High School.
In 1868 Bouchet was accepted into Hopkins
Grammar School, a private institution
that prepared young men for the classical and scientific departments at Yale College.
He graduated first in his class at Hopkins and
entered Yale College in 1870. Four years later when
he was the first Black to graduate from Yale in 1874, ranked sixth in a class
of 124. On the basis of this exceptional performance, Bouchet became the first
Black in the nation to be nominated to Phi Beta Kappa, but he was not elected
at that time.
Bouchet had the misfortune of being a talented and educated Black man who lived
in a segregated society that imposed numerous barriers and thus hindered him
from conducting scientific research and achieving professional recognition.
Segregation produced isolation as Bouchet spent his career in high schools with
limited resources and poorly equipped labs. No white college would have
considered him for a position on its faculty even with his superior
qualifications. Completely excluded from any means of utilizing his education
and talent, Bouchet suffered in obscurity. The ascendancy of industrial
education also served to limit his opportunities as his academic training in
the natural sciences made him unattractive as a candidate at the increasing
number of Black schools that adopted a vocational curriculum.
In the fall of 1874 he returned to Yale with the encouragement and financial
support of Alfred Cope, a Philadelphia philanthropist. In 1876 Bouchet
successfully completed his dissertation on the new subject of geometrical
optics, becoming the first Black person to earn a Ph.D. from an American
university as well as the sixth American of any race to earn a Ph.D. in
physics. Unlike anyone else in the U. S. who earned a Ph.D. at that time and
for the next 80 years, Bouchet was unable to obtain a college (or university)
position. So Bouchet moved to Philadelphia to teach at the Institute for
Colored Youth (ICY).
Although Philadelphia was as segregated as any southern city, it offered a
supportive environment for a man of Bouchet’s abilities. The city’s Black
population, the largest in the North, had made considerable progress in
education during the decades preceding his arrival. After the Civil War, the
ICY played an important role in training the thousands of black teachers that
were needed throughout the country to provide freedmen with the education they
sought. Bouchet taught chemistry and physics for twenty-six years at ICY,
resigning in 1902 when their preparatory program was discontinued “at the
height of the Du Bois-Washington controversy over industrial vs. collegiate
education.” The school was moved and the name was changed in later years to
Cheney State College.
Over the next fourteen years, Bouchet held five or six positions in different
parts of the county. Until November 1903, he taught math and physics in St.
Louis at Sumner High School, the first high school for Blacks west of the
Mississippi. He then spent seven months as the business manager for the
Provident Hospital in St. Louis followed by a term as a United States inspector
of customs at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis. In October
1906, Bouchet secured a teaching and administrative position at St. Paul’s
Normal and Industrial School (later renamed, St. Paul’s College) in
In 1908 he became principal of Lincoln High School of Gallipolis, Ohio, where
he remained until 1913, when an attack of arteriosclerosis compelled him to
resign and return to New Haven, where he died in his boyhood home at 94 Bradley
Street. He had never married or had children. Bouchet’s full impact on Black
education will never be known; that he had an impact is undeniable. He died,
October 28, 1918.
White terrorists attacked Republicans in Ellenton, South Carolina. Two whites and thirty-nine Blacks were killed.
This date marks
the birthday of Claude McKay. He was an
African-American writer, born in Jamaica.
He was educated by his older brother, who owned a library of English novels,
poetry, and scientific texts. At twenty, McKay published a book of verse called
“Songs of Jamaica,” recording his impressions of Black life in Jamaica in
dialect. In 1912, he traveled to the United States to attend Tuskegee
Institute. He remained there only a few months, leaving to study agriculture at
Kansas State University.
After 1914 several of his poems were published in various American periodicals;
they were primarily lyric works decrying injustice. After World War I, McKay
lived in England & France and visited the Soviet Union. He also served as
an editor of and contributor to the left-wing periodicals The Liberator and The
Masses. McKay’s first novel, Home to Harlem was a popular success.
Other novels by McKay include Banjo and Banana Bottom. McKay’s
poetry and prose were notable and he also wrote an autobiography, A Long Way
from Home and a sociological study, Harlem: Negro Metropolis. In
1942 he converted to Roman Catholicism and renounced his former left wing
McKay was one of the prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance in Black
literature of the 1920s, he was known for his poems and novels of Black life,
first in Jamaica and later in the United States.
He died in 1948.
D.D. Palmer, the founder of Chiropractic, adjusted Harvey Lillard, an African America in Davenport Iowa. Mr. Lilllard was deaf and told
Mr. Palmer that he lifted something and heard a cracking sound in his back. Lillard
stated that his hearing was lost thereafter. Mr. Palmer felt his spine and
pushed on what he believed to be a misplaced bone. Lillard’s hearing improved
as a direct result of that launched Chiropractic.
National Afro-American Council founded in Rochester, New York. Bishop Alexander Walters of the AME Zion Church was elected president. The organization proposed
a program of assertion and protest.
James Theodore Ward was born on
this date. He was an African-American author and playwright.
From Thibodaux, La. he was one of eleven children from the family of John Ward
and Louise Pierre Ward. Young Ward wrote a play as a child though his father
was non-supportive. In 1936, he won second prize in a writing competition for
his one-act presentation Sick ‘n Tiahd. This led to his acquaintance
with Richard Wright the man who won first prize. Through Wright, Ward joined
the Chicago Writers Workshop of the WPA Federal Theatre, where he wrote a
critical piece for Big White Fog, a production about the Garvey Movement.
When the WPA ended, Ward brought the play to New York where it became the first
production of the Negro Playwrights Company. In 1947 Our Lan, Ward’s
play about the Reconstruction South was moved from a successful run at the
Henry Street Settlement Playhouse to Broadway’s Royale Theatre. The play ran on
Broadway for 42 performances before it closed. In 1949, Ward became the first
Black dramatist to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship enabling him to write a
play about the abolitionist John Brown. The play was later produced in Chicago
at the Skyloft Theatre in 1951.
His play, The Daubers, was produced in Chicago in 1969. Over his
lifetime, Ward wrote more than 30theatrical productions, essays, poetry and
pieces of two folk operas. James Theodore Ward lived and worked in Chicago from
1968 until his death in 1983.
effects Oklahoma. Governor said Oklahoma was in a “state of virtual rebellion and
insurrection” because of KKK activities. Martial Law was declared.
Bobby Short was born on this date. He was an
African-American cabaret singer.
Born Robert Waltrip Short in
Danville, Illinois, he began performing after leaving home at the age of eleven
for Chicago, with his mother’s permission. He started working in clubs in the
1940s, and in 1968 settled at the Cafe Carlyle in New York City, where he
became an institution. There his effortless elegance, vocal phrasing (perfected
through Mabel Mercer and Ethel Waters) made him very special to audiences.
Short was a genius for presenting unknown songs worth knowing while keeping
well-known songs fresh; his stride piano style, playing of the classical
composers was a solid characteristic.
His good cheer, resolute, self-disciplined professionalism; and most of all his
ever-abounding joy in the great American song made him a great American
treasure. He was known for his interpretation of songs by early 20th
century composers from Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Harold
Arlen, to George and Ira Gershwin. He also championed African-American
composers of the same period such as Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson, Andy Razaf,
Fats Waller, and Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Short presented them not
in a polemical way, but as simply the obvious equal.
His dedication to what he called the “Great American Song” left him skilled at
performing Bessie Smith’s “Gimme a Pigfoot” or Gershwin and Duke’s “I Can’t Get
Started with You.” Short always said his favorite songwriters were Ellington,
Arlen and Kern, and he was instrumental in spearheading the construction of the
Ellington Memorial in his second home of New York City.
In 1986: Short appeared in the Woody Allen film Hannah and Her Sisters. In
2000: The Library of Congress designated him as a Living Legend, a recognition
established as part of its bicentennial celebration. In 2004: Short announced
he will end his regular appearances at the Cafe Carlyle by the end of the year,
in favor of touring, traveling, and spending time with friends. Short died of
leukemia at New York Presbyterian Hospital on March 21, 2005.
date, Julian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderly was born in
Tampa, FL. He was an African-American jazz musician, band leader, and composer.
Originally nicknamed “Cannonball” in high school for his large appetite, the
nickname mutated into “Cannonball” and stuck. From a musical family in Florida,
Adderly was drafted into the U. S. Army in 1950. He became leader of the 36th
Army Dance Band, led his own band while studying music at the U. S. Naval
Academy and then led an army band while stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In
1955, Adderly sat in on a club date with bassist Oscar Pettiford and created
such a fervor that he was signed almost immediately to a recording contract.
Adderly became a seminal influence on the hard-driving style known as hard-bop,
and could swing ferociously at faster tempos, yet he was also an effective and
soulful ballad stylist. Adderly led his own band, which broke up when he was
invited to join the Miles Davis Quintet in 1957. For two years, Adderly
recorded some of his best work on the landmark Davis albums Milestones and Kind
of Blue within this sextet. Cannonball left the Davis band to reform his
quintet in 1959, this time with his brother, Sam Jones, pianist Bobby Timmons
and drummer Louis Hayes. Adderly recorded for Riverside, for Capitol and then
for Fantasy records.
He suffered a stroke while on tour and died in August, 1975. During the period
when the growing development of polyrhythms and polytonality threatened to make
jazz harder for non-musicians to appreciate, the Cannonball Adderly bands
helped preserve the music’s roots in a more readily understood sense. Both as
the leader of his own bands as well as an alto and soprano saxophone stylist,
“Cannonball” Adderly was one of the progenitors of the swinging, music that
became known as hard-bop. Adderly added a funky vocabulary of gospel and blues
to the style of jazz, America’s classic music.
Anne Moody was born on this date. She is an
From Wilkinson County, Mississippi. She is the daughter of Fred and Elmire
Moody, and the oldest of nine children. Moody felt the pains of racism at an
early age. She had to clean houses as a child to help her family to afford food
and clothing. She attended segregated schools, where she received good grades.
After graduating from high school, Moody received a basketball scholarship to
Natchez Junior College in 1961.
It was there, that she became involved in the Congress of Racial Equality
(CORE), SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) and the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She went on to
finish at Tougaloo College, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1964.
After the lynching of Emmitt Till, Moody’s civil rights activities intensified.
She was a civil rights coordinator at Cornell University, was involved in the
Woolworth lunchroom sit-in and participated in the March on Washington; Moody
developed a close professional relationship with Reverend Martin Luther King
Moody married Austin Stratus and they had a child named Sascha; she was
divorced in 1967. Although she was thoroughly involved in the civil rights movement,
she broke away because she had doubts about the direction of Black liberation.
Moody has described herself as a reluctant writer. She published Coming of
Age of Mississippi 1968 and Mr. Death: Four Stories 1975, as well as
a number of uncollected short stories.
In 1969, Coming of Age of Mississippi received the Brotherhood Award from the
National Council of Christians and Jews and the Best Book of the Year Award
from the National Library Association. Her short story, New Hopes for the
Seventies received the silver medal from Mademoiselle magazine. Moody
resides in New York and is currently working on a book entitled The Clay
Actor and activist, Paul Robeson, portrays
Othello for the 296th time at New York City’s Shubert Theater.
Jessye Norman: Opera singer is born. Known for her
stage presence, vocal range, and her ability to convey emotion, Jessye Norman
is one of the world’s most respected opera singers.
On his date, four young African American schoolgirls were killed in a bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. Addie Collins, Denise McNair, Carol Robertson and Cynthia Wesley were the victims. The church was bombed with 15 sticks of dynamite. Twenty other persons were also injured in the blast. The church became the rallying point for Blacks during the drive to desegregate the city’s schools. Robert E. Chambliss, a white supremacist, was later convicted of the racists attack. Thomas E. Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry were also convicted in their deaths on May 17, 2000. Two of the murderers are now dead (one while in prison for the crime). This act of racial violence galvanizes the civil rights movement.
Rev. K.L. Buford and Dr.
Stanley Smith were elected to Tuskegee City Council and became first Black elected officials in Alabama in 20th
Large-scale racial disorders were reported in Hartford, Connecticut. Five hundred were arrested and scores were injured.
Inmates seized Attica
State Correctional Facility (N.Y.) and
held several guards hostage. They issued a list of demands which included
coverage by the state minimum wage law, better food and no reprisals.
On this date, Muhammad
Ali, was the first black prizefight to gross
more than a five-million dollars gate in the bout at the Louisiana Superdome in
New Orleans. Muhammad Ali won in a 13-round unanimous decision against Leon
Spinks and became the first to win the heavyweight title three times.
The famous boxer Thomas
“Hit Man” Hearns becomes the first Black man to win boxing
titles in five different weight classes.
San Diego State
freshman, Marshall Faulk,
sets the NCAA single game rushing record of 386 yards.
E. Matzeliger, inventor and businessman, was commemorated on a U.S.
postage stamp on this date.
Ali received the “Messanger of
Peace Award” from the United Nations on this date.
Barry Bonds played his
last game with the San Francisco Giants, as he had to leave a game against the
San Diego Padres after slamming into a wall and injuring himself chasing an Adrian Gonzalez fly ball.