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Two battalions African American troops with Andrew Jackson are cited for bravery in the Battle of New Orleans with the defeat of the British. Jackson issued his famous proclamation to Black troops at New Orleans on December 18, 1814: “TO THE MEN OF COLOR. Soldiers! From the shores of Mobile I collected you to arms; I invited you to share in the perils and to divide the glory of your white countrymen. I expected much from you, for I was not uniformed of those qualities which must render you so formidable to an invading foe. I knew that you could endure hanger and thirst and all the hardships of war. I knew that you loved the land of your nativity, and that like ourselves, you had to defend all that is most dear to you. But you surpass my hopes. I have found in you, united to these qualities, that noble enthusiasm which impels to great deeds.”

Augustus Washington’s birth is celebrated on this date. He was an African-American abolitionist and photographer specializing as a Daguerreotypist.

From Trenton, New Jersey he was the son of a former slave and a woman of South Asian decent. His mother died when he was young a stepmother, also a former slave raised him. Washington struggled to obtain schooling, first in Trenton and later at the Oneida Institute in Whitesboro, New York, Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire, and Dartmouth College. In 1843, Washington moved to Hartford and opened a daguerrean studio to help finance education. Finishing School in 1847, he returned to Hartford; opens studio for a short period of time. During this time many of his portraits were of political and social figures of the era and reflect his sentiment about slavery.

In 1851 he expressed pessimism about prospects of Blacks in American society in a letter to New York Tribune. In 1853, he immigrated to Liberia to works as schoolteacher, farmer stone operator and Daguerreotypist. One year later, he expressed enthusiasm about his adopted land in a letter, stating that, “I believe that I shall do a thousand times more good for Africa.” The last reference to Washington’s work as a daguerreotypist dates from 1858.

Washington never regretted his decision to immigrate to Liberia, and when he died in Monrovia on June 7, 1875, his death was mourned as “a severe loss to Western Africa.”

On this date, Maria W. Stewart (1803-1879) addressed the New England Anti-Slavery Society meeting in Boston's Franklin Hall on the evils of slavery and the oppression of free blacks. This is often cited as the first time an African American woman spoke publicly on political issues before an audience of Black and White men and women. In future speeches, Stewart also advanced women's rights.

John Henry Conyers of South Carolina becomes first African American student at U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. He will later resign.

Inventor, F.W. Leslie, patents the envelope seal. Patent #590,325.

On this date, John Wesley Hardrick was born. He was an African-American painter.

Hardrick was from Indianapolis, IN, where he lived his entire life. He studied painting, sculpture, and drawing from 1910 to 1918 at the John Herron Art Institute under William Forsythe and Otto Stark. Beginning in 1928 Hardrick exhibited his work with the Harmon Foundation for five years, winning recognition for his realistic and expressive portraits of African Americans. He received a Bronze Award from the foundation in 1927 for his work, Portrait of a Young Girl and in 1933 he received a blue ribbon at the Indiana State Fair for his portrait Mammy. Supplemental income during these years came from managing a trucking company and working for the foundation.

Hardrick painted mainly portraits, figure composition, and landscapes. He also painted murals at several high schools and churches in and around his home town. He was also displayed at the Smithsonian in 1929, and at the American Negro Exposition in Chicago in 1940. John Hardrick died in his home town in 1968.

Learie Constantine was born on this date. He was a Black cricket player, broadcast journalist, administrator, lawyer, and politician.

From Diego Martin, Trinidad, the son of a test cricketer, he worked in a solicitor’s office before beginning a career in cricket. He made his debut while touring England in 1928. The following year Constantine moved to England and joined the Nelson team in the Lancashire Cricket League. Constantine became captain of the West Indies and led the team to their first victory in a test match in 1930. He also played an important role in West Indies winning the series against England in 1934-35.

After retiring from cricket he became a commentator for the British Broadcasting Corporation. During the Second World War Constantine worked as a welfare officer for the labor ministry. Based in Liverpool his main responsibility was to help West Indian immigrants find employment in Britain. In 1943 Constantine was refused service in a British hotel because of his color. He took the owners of the hotel to court and won his case. Later he wrote Colour Bar (1954), with his friend, C. L. R. James. The book dealt with racial prejudice in Britain. After studying law, Constantine gained entrance to the English bar in 1954. Later he returned to Trinidad where he became involved in politics.

A member of the People’s National Movement, he served in the government as minister of community works and utilities. When Trinidad gained independence he became his country’s first high commissioner to London. In 1964 he resigned but stayed in Britain where he held several important positions. This included being governor of the BBC, a member of the Race Relations Board and the Sports Council. In 1969 Constantine became the first person of African descent to gain a life peerage. Learie Constantine died of lung cancer in Hampstead, London, on July 1, 1971.

On this date, The New Hope Baptist Church of Newark was organized. The New Hope Baptist Church is one of the oldest black churches in the state of New Jersey.

Located in Newark, New Jersey at a time when the American population was around 76,300,000 and at a time when women still did not have the right to vote, The New Hope Baptist Church was organized by Addie and Maggie Vine, two sisters, in a room on Drift Street (in Newark). Incorporation of the church happened at a time when it was not common for churches to gather and congregate in such large groups but per our history, incorporation happened in 1911 when they located at 232 Central Avenue. The New Hope Baptist Church has only had 6 Pastors in its 100 year existence.

The current Pastor is
Reverend Joe A. Carter. The vision of the church is to be “Purpose-Driven with Five-Star Excellence, Ministering to the Total Man.” There is a dire need to serve this present age spiritually, economically, physically and emotionally. The New Hope Baptist Church is a full-time ministry, with areas of need being addressed everyday year-round. There is a 6-day per week Food Program. A Clothing Ministry aids those in need of clothing and a Substance Abuse and Referral Ministry exists to aid those who are addicted and have realized they need a way out.

As the church grew, so did their ministries and most of the events and activities are held during the month of June. New Hope celebrates their church’s anniversary yearly on the 3rd Sunday in September.

The Atlanta Life Insurance Company was founded. They are the largest black-owned stockholder insurance company in America.

Founded by former slave,
Alonzo Franklin Herndon, he purchased a small benevolent association for $140 and, with the acquisition and reorganization of two other companies in that year forming the Atlanta Mutual Insurance Association. In June 1996, Charles Cornelius began as the fifth president and chief executive officer and carries on the company’s proud legacy.

Today, Atlanta Life has assets of over $200 million and operates in 17 states.

On this date, we mark the birth of Kwame Nkrumah. He was an African Statesman and political activist from Ghana.

He led his country to independence from Britain in 1957 and was a powerful voice for African nationalism. He was overthrown by a military coup nine years later after his rule grew dictatorial. Nkrumah was born in the town of Nkroful in the southwestern corner of the British colony of the Gold Coast (now Ghana). He was an excellent student in local Catholic missionary schools, who as a teenager, became an untrained elementary school teacher in the nearby town of Half Assini.

In 1930, at Achimota College in Accra, the capital of the Gold Coast Nkrumah earned a teacher’s certificate and taught at several Catholic elementary schools. In 1939 he graduated from Lincoln University with B. A. degrees in economics and sociology, earned a theology degree from the Lincoln Theological Seminary in 1942, and received M. A. degrees in education and philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942 and 1943. While studying in the United States, Nkrumah was influenced by the socialist writings of German political philosopher Karl Marx, German political economist Friedrich Engels, and Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. He formed an African student’s organization and became a popular speaker, advocating the liberation of Africa from European colonialism.

He also promoted Pan-Africanism, a movement for cooperation between all people of African descent and for the political union of an independent Africa. In 1945 he went to London, to study economics and law. That year he helped organize the fifth Pan-African Congress, in Manchester; with black American sociologist and writer W. E. B. Du Bois, future president of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta, and American actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. In 1946 Nkrumah left his academic studies to become secretary general of the West African National Secretariat. That same year, Nkrumah became vice president of the West African Students Union, a pro-independence organization of younger, more politically aggressive African students studying in Britain.

Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast in 1947 when the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), a nationalist party, invited him to serve as its secretary general. He gave speeches all over the colony to rally support for the UGCC and for independence. In 1948, Nkrumah and several other UGCC leaders were arrested by British colonial authorities and briefly imprisoned. After setting up a series of colony-wide strikes in favor of independence that nearly brought the colony’s economy to a standstill, Nkrumah was again imprisoned for subversion in 1950.

However, the strikes had convinced the British authorities to move the colony toward independence. In 1951 Nkrumah, while still in prison, won the central Accra seat by a landslide. The British governor of the Gold Coast released Nkrumah from prison and appointed him leader of government business. The following year he named him Prime Minister. Reelected in 1954 and 1956, Nkrumah guided the Gold Coast to independence in 1957 under the name Ghana, after an ancient West African empire. Nkrumah built a strong central government and attempted to unify the country politically and to muster all its resources for rapid economic development.

As a proponent of Pan-Africanism, he sought the liberation of the entire continent from colonial rule, offered generous assistance to other African nationalists, and initially pursued a policy of nonalignment with the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). His goal was never realized, but his efforts helped bring about the Organization of African Unity, which promotes peace and cooperation between African nations. In 1960 Ghana became a republic and Nkrumah was elected president. Between 1961 and 1966 Nkrumah put together an ambitious and very expensive hydroelectric project on the Volta River that though highly successful, was laced with economic mismanagement along with several other developmental schemes over the period.

Nkrumah did not hesitate to use strong-arm methods in implementing his domestic programs. He remained popular with the masses, yet his tactics made enemies among civil servants, judges, intellectuals, and army officers. While Nkrumah was visiting China in 1966, his government was overthrown in an army coup. Nkrumah lived in exile in Guinea, where Guinean president Sékou
????? appointed him honorary co-president of Guinea. He died in 1972 in Romania while receiving treatment for throat cancer. Kwame Nkrumah’s remains were returned to Ghana for burial in his hometown.

Melvin Van Peebles, actor, playwright, screen writer, director and composer, most notable for Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971), which is credited with starting “blaxploitation” style of action films of the 1970’s, and Watermelon Man), and the father of actor and director Mario Van Peebles, is born in Chicago.

Clifford Alexander, Jr., the first Black Secretary of the U.S. Army, was born on New York City on this date.

On this date, St. Louis parochial schools were put on notice to include black kids or face religious discipline.

Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter publicly said he would excommunicate any St. Louis Catholic who continued to protest integration of parochial schools. The start of this order was one of Ritter’s first acts on 1946, his first year in St. Louis. At that time he instructed all pastors in the archdiocese to end racial segregation in the parochial schools. The U.S. Supreme Court would not take the same action with the nation’s public schools until 1954.

As the school year opened in the fall of 1947, Catholics who opposed the archbishop’s edict appealed to the Church’s apostolic delegate in Washington. They were sharply rejected. Next, they considered taking legal action in the civil courts, but the archbishop learned of their plans. On a that date (which was a Sunday) in 1947, church pastors throughout the archdiocese read a letter from Ritter to their congregations informing the opponents of multi-racial schools that any civil lawsuits would result in automatic excommunication. The organized opposition quickly disbanded.

Ritter was widely praised, both for his decision and his resolve in enforcing it. He was recognized not only in St. Louis but also throughout the United States. Ritter saw the decision as a simple matter of justice.

Artis Gilmore, who will become a professional basketball all-star, is born.

Juanita Kidd Stout was named by the Governor of Pennsylvania to serve as a Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge on this date. Late that year Stout won the election for a full term on the Court and became the first Black woman elected judge in the United States.

Southern Regional Council announced that Sit-in movement had effected twenty states and more than one hundred cities in Southern and Border States in period from February, 1960, to September, 1961. At least seventy thousand Blacks and whites had participated in the movement, the report said. The council estimated that 3,600 had been arrested and that at least 141 students and 58 faculty members had been expelled by college authorities. SRC said one or more establishments in 108 Southern and Border State cities had been desegregated as a result of sit-ins.

National Guard mobilized to stop rioting in Dayton, Ohio.

Walter Washington is nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first mayor of the newly reorganized municipal government of Washington, DC. In 1974, he will be elected to the post, another first for an African American.

The Oakland Athletics’s Vida Blue pitches a no-hitter against the Minneapolis Twins, 6-0.

Alfonso Ribeiro, actor/pianist (Alfonso-“Silver Spoons”, “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”), is born.

Belize gains independence from Great Britain.

Michael Spinks becomes the first light heavyweight to defeat the reigning heavyweight champion when he defeats Larry Holmes.

Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo Jo), legendary track star, died in Santa Monica, CA on this date. At the time of her death, Joyner held world records in the women’s 100 and 200 meter dashes.

Army General Colin Powell received Senate confirmation as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the United States, thereby becoming the military’s highest-ranking African American. Powell, 52, a four-star general, also became the youngest to serve in this position in the U.S. The Joint Cheifs is the highest military advisory panel to the president. He served four years in the position. A native of Harlem, NY, Powell graduated from the City College of New York and its ROTC program in 1958 with a degree in geology and an Army commission as a second lieutenant. Following a tour of duty in Vietnam, Powell received an MBA from George Washington University in 1971. On January 20, 2001, the Senate confirmed Powell as Secretary of State under the George W. Bush administration. He resigned the post in November 2004. Powell currently serves as a limited partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield& Byers, a Menlo, CA-based venture capital firm.

Pittsburgh Pirate Barry Bonds is the second person to hit 30 home runs and steal 50 bases in the same season.

On this date, the first African-American woman to chair the Association of Community Colleges Trustees was elected.

Brenda Knight led the organization, which represents more than 1,200 colleges, 6,500 trustees, and 11 million students in America. Knight, a California native served her term and is currently the community and government relations coordinator for the Oakland Unified School District.

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