On this date, the United States Congress passed the second Fugitive Slave Law Act. A similar act was enacted in 1793; both legislations were intended to
help the recapture and transportation of runaway slaves to their owners and to
commit the federal government to the legitimacy of holding property in slaves.
The 19th century legislation was an attempt to appease the South and was called
the Compromise of 1850 revising the Fugitive Slave Bill. This created
commissioners under federal court appointment to judge fugitive cases. They had
active roles in ensuring retrieval of escaped slaves. Federal marshals also
were enjoined to help recapture slaves, under $1000 penal fines for
If a runaway escaped while in a marshal’s custody, the marshal had to forfeit
the slave’s full value to the owner. Persons guilty of abetting slave escape
were subject to fine and a maximum prison sentence of six months. As in
southern courts, slaves could not testify against whites, but a master’s
circumstantial evidence was easily admissible. Federal commissioners received
$5 for proslave verdicts, $10 for decisions favorable to masters. If warranted
by a threat of interference, federal officers were authorized to accompany the
slave out of the area of risk.
Due to northern resentments, both the acts of 1793 and 1850 faced legal
challenges, primarily in the legal disputes over state personal liberty laws.
In Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842), the U. S.
Supreme Court had ruled against a Pennsylvania
citizenship statute and upheld the first fugitive slave law’s
constitutionality. Nevertheless, some states continued to pass laws
strengthening the applicability of habeas corpus writs and prohibiting state
officials from accepting jurisdiction under federal law.
In Ohio, the
chief objective was less a desire to expand black rights than to ensure that
outright kidnapping was not condoned. (Ohio did not repeal its virulently
discriminatory Black Code until 1849.) Southerners objected strenuously to
personal liberty laws as a violation of sectional equity and reciprocal trust;
but the 1850 act, seen in the North as punitive and tyrannical, only aroused
greater sectional animosities.
Northern opposition was most dramatically illustrated when an abolitionist Boston mob tried to rescue Anthony Burns, a fugitive from Virginia, in May 1854.
The mission failed. Commissioner Edward Loring had Burns returned to slavery,
and U. S.
troops escorted him through sullen crowds to a waiting ship. The effort cost
the federal government more than $100,000.
Booker T. Washington made a speech at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. Known as the “Atlanta Compromise” speech, Washington
advocated the acceptance of a subordinate role for African Americans, espousing
peaceful coexistence with white Southerners, and calling agitation over the question
of social equality “the extremist folly.” In
a time of severe racial conflicts, he asserted that vocational education, which
gave Blacks an opportunity for economic security, was more valuable to them
than social advantages or political office. In one sentence during his speech
he summarized his concept of race relations appropriate for the times; “In all
things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as
the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” White leaders in both the
North and South greeted Washington’s speech
with enthusiasm, but it disturbed Black intellectuals who feared that Washington’s philosophy
would doom blacks to indefinite subservience to whites. The speech,
which reportedly left some African American listeners in tears and incurred the
wrath of W.E.B. Du Bois and others, secures Washington’s reputation among whites as a
successor to Frederick Douglass. That
apprehension led to the Niagara Movement and later to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
On this date, Eddie
(Rochester) Anderson was born. He
was an African-American actor best known for his comic portrayal of the
on the Jack Benny radio show.
From Oakland, Calif.,
parents performed in vaudeville and he began acting when he was eight. His
formal show business career began in 1919 when he appeared in a Negro revue,
and continued when he and his older brother, Cornelius, toured as a two man
music and dance team. After appearing in his first film, Green Pastures (1936),
Anderson was invited to play the role of Rochester, a Pullman
porter on the Jack Benny radio show. Though it was only intended to be a
one-show deal, Anderson
struck such a chord with audiences that he was offered a permanent spot on the
In addition to teaming up with Benny in the classic films Man About Town 1939,
Buck Benny Rides Again 1940 and Love Thy Neighbor 1940, Anderson also acted in
numerous films without Benny, including Jezebel 1938, Gone With the Wind 1939,
Birth of the Blues 1941, and the “race” films Stormy Weather, and Cabin in the
Sky both 1943; films now recognized as Black “classics.” In the 1950s and
appeared regularly on television, with Benny at times and in many other small
The humor and energy between Jack Benny and Eddie Anderson led to the
development of a 20-year collaboration that delighted radio, television, and
film audiences. The relationship between Anderson and Benny, for all of its
sarcasm, wit and camaraderie, was typical of the “Uncle Tomism” of the era
(Anderson’s trademark line to Benny became “What’s that, Boss?”), yet Blacks
not only appreciated the comedy, but were also pleased that the character was
played by a black actor instead of a white actor attempting to imitate black
expression. Eddie Anderson died on February 28th 1977 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Fritz Pollard becomes the first black to play Professional football for a major team,
the Akron Indians. Pollard was also the first Black to play in the Rose
1000 white students
walk out of three Gary, Indiana schools to protest
integration. There were similar disturbances in Chicago, Illinois
and other Northern and Western metropolitan areas.
Dr. Ralph J. Bunche is confirmed by the United Nations
Security Council as acting United Nations’ mediator in Palestine. Bunche succeeded Count Folke
Bernadotte who was assassinated the previous day.
Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr. was born on this date. He is an African-American neurosurgeon.
From Detroit, Michigan, Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr. grew
up in a low income neighborhood and struggled with poor grades and a violent
temper partially because of those conditions. His family was there for him and
the love and understanding of his mother was instrumental in his life
accomplishments. She only had a third-grade education, but challenged him to
strive for excellence. Carson
eventually emerged from the bottom to the top of his class. He earned academic
scholarships to college and medical school.
In 1973, Carson received his B.A. came from Yale University,
his M.D. from the University of Michigan School of Medicine in 1977, and his
Internship in General Surgery took place at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD
from 1978 to 1982. Currently, Dr. Carson is director of pediatric neurosurgery
at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, Maryland.
He is globally known for leading a medical team that separated West German
conjoined twins in 1987, as well as leading a team of South African doctors in
the first successful separation of vertically conjoined twins in 1997.
He has refined the techniques for hemispherectomy, a radical brain surgery to
stop intractable seizures, and has developed, along with the Hopkins plastic surgery division, a
craniofacial program to help children who need combined neurosurgical and
plastic surgical reconstruction. Dr. Carson holds many honors and awards,
including more than 20 honorary doctorate degrees, the American Black
Achievement Award from Ebony and the Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary International. He is a member of the board of directors of
the Kellogg Company, honored by the Horatio Alger Society, as well as a fellow
of the Yale Corporation, the governing body of Yale University.
Carson’s story is told in his first book, Gifted Hands. He has also written
Think Big, and The Big Picture. His writing offers a unique perspective on
priorities, race, society, success, and living out a life of faith in a complex
and competitive world. He travels the world to share his knowledge and
philosophy inspiring people of all ages and educational backgrounds to be and
do their best! Dr. Ben Carson has dedicated his life (through example) to
inspiring others to excel by using their aptitude and talents. He is married to
Candy and has three children, Murray, Benjamin Jr. and Rhoeyce.
Dennis Johnson was born this date. He was an African-American basketball player and
Born in San Pedro and raised in Compton, California, he played in college at Pepperdine and was
drafted by Seattle
in 1976. Johnson was traded to Phoenix in 1980
and Boston in
1983. He averaged 14.1 points and 5.0 assists. When he retired, he was the 11th
player in NBA history to total 15,000 points and 5,000 assists. Johnson made
one all-NBA first team and one second team. Six times he made the all-defensive
first team, including five consecutive seasons (1979-83).
He was hired as interim head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2002,
replacing Alvin Gentry, but was fired after an 8–16 record. In 2004, he became
the first head coach for the Florida Flame in the Development League, but was
fired after finishing the season in last place. He then became the head coach
of the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League.
On February 22, 2007, at the Austin
Convention Center, Johnson
collapsed while playing a pick-up game of basketball during a practice. He
could not be revived and was later pronounced dead.
Rwanda, Burundi, Jamaica & Trinidad-Tobago are admitted (105th-108th
countries) to the United Nations.
Holly Robinson (Peete), actress (“21 Jump Street”, “Hanging with Mr. Cooper”),
Ricky Bell, rhythm-and-blues singer, (Bell Biv Devoe and New Edition), is born.
Rock guitarist Jimi (James Marshall) Hendrix joins the ancestors at age 27 after
aspirating on his own vomit in London. Contrary to many news accounts, he did not
succumb to a drug overdose. No trace of drugs was found in his body. A
self-taught musician who blended rock, jazz, and blues with British avant-garde
rock, Hendrix redefined the use of the electric guitar. His musical career deeply influenced modern
musicians. His songs, “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady” will become anthems for a generation
at war in Vietnam.
Hendrix was perhaps the greatest rock guitarist of all-time.
Jada Pinkett Smith, actress, is born.
Art Williams became the National League’s first Black umpire on this
day. He called plays from third base in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 10-inning, 3-2
triumph over the San Diego Padres in San
Diego. After his debut, he said that he was more
nervous than he had ever been in his entire life. Williams, a minor league
umpire for four seasons, was a minor league pitcher in the mid-1950s. He was a
graduate of baseball’s Umpire
Williams died in his hometown, Bakersfield,
CA, in February of 1979. He was
44 years old.
Cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez, a Cuban, becomes the first person
of African descent sent on a mission in space (Soyuz 38).
Atlanta, Georgia is selected as
the site of the XXV Olympiad Summer
Games. Mayor Maynard H. Jackson says the 1996 Summer Games will be the “single biggest
continuous infusion of economic development to Atlanta in the history of the city under any
circumstances.” It is the second time the city to host the games, is led by an
African American mayor.
Kimberly Clarice Aiken was crowned “Miss
America” at the 73rd
Annual Miss America Pageant in Atlantic
City, NJ on this
date. Competing as “Miss South Carolina,”
Aiken became the fifth Black woman to win the title.
Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs becomes the first player in major league baseball
history to reach 60 homers in a season twice.