Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was born on this date. She was a Black poet, writer and lecturer.
Harper also was an anti-slavery, women’s rights, and temperance activist.
Harper was from Baltimore, Md.,
Academy for Negro Youth school, where she studied Greek, Latin, and the Bible.
Writing poetry as a teenager She started her career as a writer in 1845 by
publishing the poetry collection
Her second career, as an activist, began almost a decade later. Harper taught
school for several years at Union Seminary in Ohio,
and later in Pennsylvania.
But in 1853, when Maryland
began prohibiting free blacks from entering its borders, Frances Ellen Harper
was moved to action. The next year moving to Philadelphia she became active in the
anti-slavery movement; soon, Harper became one of the few African American
women to go on the anti-slavery lecture circuit. She proved to be such a popular
speaker that over the next six years the Maine and Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery
Societies sent her throughout New England, Ohio, and New York, and as far away
as Detroit and Canada.
Harper often quoted original poetry in her lectures, and consequently her
reputation as a poet spread as far as her speaking tours. Her second volume of
poetry, Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects, sold 10,000 copies and was then
enlarged and reprinted. Harper published several more volumes of poetry and
reprinted new editions of her poems many times. In the process, she became the
most famous black poet of her time.
During the next few decades, she began to focus on racial uplift, moral reform,
temperance, and women’s rights. Many of Harper’s lectures were to women’s clubs
and associations, and some of her most popular speeches were on the rights and
roles of women in general, and black women in particular. Harper was also
active in the temperance movement. She lectured widely on the evils of alcohol,
directed the Northern United States Temperance Union, and became the first
black woman to be recognized on the Red Letter Calendar of the World Woman’s
Christian Temperance Union, which honored prominent temperance activists.
Here again, Harper tailored her activism to reach the African American
community. She directed the colored branches of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Woman’s
Christian Temperance Union, and in 1883 became national superintendent of
temperance work among African Americans.
Throughout all of her political activism, Frances Harper continued to write,
and in the twentieth century she is best remembered as one of the earliest
black women writers.
Harper’s best-known work is the 1892 novel Iola Leroy. Many reviewers called
Iola Leroy the crowning effort of Harper’s life. She continued writing until a
few years before her death in 1911. Harper provided a model for the best of
what any nineteenth-century woman could be as a black woman, who made a point
of writing about and speaking to other black women, she set the standard for a
generation of African American women’s activism.
On this date, W.R.
Davis Jr. patented the Library table. This African-American
patent number is, 208378.
The National Black convention meets in Louisville, Kentucky.
The founding of Ebenezer Baptist
celebrated on this date. This house of worship is a unique landmark of Black
Civil Rights in the Africa-American community. Originally it was located in a
small structure on Airline Street.
John A. Parker, a former slave served as Ebenezer’s first pastor until 1894,
when Alfred Daniel Williams took the position. Membership increased during
Williams’ first year, and a larger sanctuary was erected on McGruder Street. The congregation
relocated twice more before settling at 407 Auburn Avenue in 1914. Parishioners
occupied the basement of this facility until its completion in 1922.
Located in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn district, Ebenezer Baptist
Church was the home church of Martin Luther
King Jr. Ebenezer remains socially and
politically active while serving the community through various ministries.
John Adams Hyman, North Carolina’s first Black
Congressman, died in Washington,
DC on this date.
On this date, Edward Franklin Frazier was born. He was an African-American sociologist.
From Baltimore, MD,
Edward Franklin Frazier received his A.B. from Howard
University (1916) and his A.M. in
sociology from Clark
University (1920). After
being awarded a fellowship to the New York School of Social Work (1920-21), he
accepted an American-Scandinavian Foundation grant to study folk high schools
and the Cooperative Movement in Denmark
He taught sociology at Morehouse College, Atlanta,
where he organized the Atlanta University School of Social Work (for blacks),
later becoming its director. With the controversy surrounding the publication
(1927) of “The Pathology of Race Prejudice” in Forum, Frazier was forced to
leave Morehouse. He received a fellowship from the University of Chicago
(1927), where he took his Ph.D. (1931). Publication of his thesis, The Negro
Family in Chicago
(1932), sustained the university’s interest in his work on the black family. He
taught at Fisk University
(1929-34) and then at Howard
University (from 1934).
He served as director of the Division of Applied Social Sciences UNESCO
(1951-53), where he worked on the Tension and Social Change Project, assessing
the interactions between people of different races and cultures and the effect
of these interactions on each community.
His writings include The Negro Family in the United States (1939), among the
first sociological works on blacks researched and written by a Black. He also
wrote Negro Youth at the Crossways (1940) and Race and Culture Contacts in the
Modern World (1957), which dealt with African studies. Later that year he wrote
Black Bourgeoisie, which focused on the African-American middle class. He whose
work on Black social structure provided insights into and solutions to many of
the problems affecting the Black community. E. Franklin Frazier died May 17,
1962 in Washington, D.C.
On this date, Fats
Navarro was born. He was an African-American jazz
trumpet virtuoso, one of the founders of bebop.
Theodore Navarro was from Key West, Fla., he first performed as a tenor saxophonist in Miami, Fla.,
and went on to play trumpet in big bands, most notably Andy Kirk’s (1943-44)
and the avant-garde Billy Eckstine band of 1945-46. He then worked and recorded
with other well-known leaders, including Illinois Jacquet and Coleman Hawkins,
before making the most important association of his career with composer-band
leader Tadd Dameron in 1948-49.
By then, however, Navarro’s heroin addiction had made him undependable; in his
last year, as he grew progressively more ill from tuberculosis, he performed
less often. To a large extent Navarro’s improvising was influenced by Dizzy
Gillespie, though Navarro was the more fluent player, capable of subtle dynamic
The fullness and beauty of Navarro’s tone extended through all ranges of his
trumpet, and he executed complex phrases with rare grace. The variety of his
phrasing added to the exuberant quality of his music, yet his solos were also
notable for their organization. Apart from his works with Dameron, such as
“Symphonette” and “Our Delight,” his most notable recordings included “Ice
Freezes Red” and “Fat Girl”; the 1949 Bud Powell quintet session that produced
“Dance of the Infidels” and “Bouncing with Bud”; and broadcast recordings with
Charlie Parker, among which were “Ornithology” and “The Street Beat.”
His material was distinguished by the beauty and fertility of his melodic
creations. Fats Navarro died on July 7, 1950 in New York City.
Theresa Merritt was born on this date. She was an African-American actress.
From Emporia, Virginia, she is probably best recognized
from her role as “Mama Eloise” on the TV sitcom “That’s My Mama.” Merritt’s
talents found success on TV, film, and the stage. In 1985, she received a Tony
Award nomination for her performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Broadway.
Her films included The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, All That Jazz, and she played “Aunt
Em” in the musical The Wiz.
She had four children including a pair of twins. Theresa Merritt died of skin
cancer on June 12, 1998.
Cardiss Robertson (later Collins) is born in St. Louis, Missouri.
Elected to the House of Representatives in 1973 after the death of her husband,
George, she will serve in a leadership capacity often in her Congressional
career, most notably as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on
Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Competitiveness.
World Heavyweight Champion, Joe Louis, becomes the first African
American boxer to draw a million dollar gate.
John Mackey is born in New
York City. He will become a football player in the
National Football League in 1963 and will play all but one of his pro years
with the Baltimore Colts. His career record will include 331 catches, 5,236
yards, and 38 touchdowns. He will be enshrined in the Football Hall of Fame in
1992 (the second tight end to be so honored).
“Mean” Joe (Charles) Greene is born in Temple, Texas.
He will become a star football player for North Texas
State and will be a
number one draft pick in the National Football League in 1969 and will play his
entire career (1969-1981) with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He will become the
“cornerstone of franchise” that dominated the NFL in the 1970s. He will be an
exceptional team leader, possessing size, speed, quickness, strength, and
determination. He will be NFL Defensive Player of The Year twice (1972 and
1974). He will be All-Pro or All-AFC nine years and will play in four Super
Bowls (won all four), six AFC title games, and 10 Pro Bowls. He will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall
of Fame in 1987. He will become a defensive line coach with Pittsburgh after his retirement as an active
“Take a Giant Step”, a drama by playwright Louis Peterson, opens on Broadway.
Patrick Kelly is born in Vicksburg,
Mississippi. A fashion design
student, Kelly will move to Paris,
where his innovative and outrageous women’s fashion designs, featuring multiple
buttons, bows and African American baby dolls, will win him wide acclaim and
make him the first and only American designer admitted to an exclusive
organization of French fashion designers.
President Eisenhower makes an address
on nationwide TV and radio to explain why troops are being sent to Little Rock, Arkansas. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, earlier in the day sends 1,000 U.S. government paratroopers from the 101st
Airborne Division to Little Rock
to aid in the desegregation of the public schools. The troops will escort nine
school children to Central High School in the first
federally supported effort to integrate the nation’s public schools. The nine
Black students who had entered Little Rock
School in Arkansas
were forced to withdraw because of a white mob outside.
United States Circuit Court of Appeals orders the Mississippi Board of
to admit James Meredith to
the University of Mississippi or be held in contempt of
Executive Order 11246 enforces affirmative action for the
first time issued by President Johnson, the executive order requires government
contractors to “take affirmative action” toward
prospective minority employees in all aspects of hiring and employment. Contractors must take specific measures to ensure equality in hiring
and must document these efforts.
Leaders of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and
Cape Verde (PAIGC)
declare the independence of Guinea-Bissau from Portugal. Portugal will
recognize this independence the following year. The PAIGC was formed by Amilcar Cabral and Raphael Barbosa in 1956. Luis Cabral, Amilcar’s half-brother, will
become Guinea-Bissau’s first president.
Rev. John T. Walker, clergyman, was installed as the first Black bishop of the Episcopal
diocese of Washington, D.C., on this day. Born on July 27, 1925, in
he graduated from Wayne
with a bachelor’s degree in history. He also was the first Black to graduate
from Virginia Theological Seminary with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. Walker pledged to use his
position to tackle social ills and became a staunch crusader against racial and
gender discrimination. He used church doctrines to forge greater integration in
the community and supporting ordination for women as members of clergy. Walker died of heart failure at Georgetown University
Hospital on September 30,
Chambliss, white supremacist, was charged with
first-degree murder in the 1963 bombing of the 16th
Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL
on this date. Addie
Mae Collins, Carol Robertson, Denise McNair, and Cynthia Wesley were killed.
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone said the United States
“intelligence levels are lower than those in Japan because of African Americans,
Hispanics and Puerto Ricans.” Nakasone later apologized saying his remarks were
Barbara C. Harris, an ordained Priest serving in the Philadelphia Church
of the Advocate, became the first woman Bishop on this date. Harris was elected
a Suffragan in the Episcopal Church.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the United States sets the heptathlon
woman’s record (7,291).