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1829
On this date we celebrate the birth of James Theodore Holly. He was a Black minister and abolitionist.

From Detroit, Michigan, his father James Overton Holly was a Scottish man and records show that his mothers name was Jane. Holly was baptized and raised a Catholic yet gradually he moved away from the Catholic Church. He spent his early years in Washington, D. C. and Brooklyn, NY where he connected with Frederick Douglass and other Black abolitionist. Holly’s emphasis on native Black clergy was in distinct opposition to Catholic emphasis on white European clergy.

In 1852 he converted to the Episcopal Church and in went to Haiti in 1855. There in 1874 he became the first Negro Episcopal Bishop and the second bishop of any major white Christian church. During this time Haiti was split with the Vatican and most men of Haiti supported their religious sentiment through the symbolism and observance of the Masonic Lodge. As an experienced Masonic leader and scholar, Holly visited the Masonic temples and made friends among their exclusive members. He was also willing to perform Masonic burial services.

He also enjoyed reminding the mulattoes that only three public organizations in Haiti had self-ruling native administrations: the Government, the Masonic fraternity and the Orthodox Apostolic Church. In July 1863 Holly organized the Holy Trinity Church. He later spent 15 years in Washington D. C. and moved to Brooklyn where he became friends with Frederick Douglass. From 1889 to 1891, Holly aided Douglass in a number of his programs.

James Theodore Holly died on March 13, 1911.



1861
On this date, the Secretary of the Navy authorizes the enlistment of slaves in the Union Navy as sailors, almost a year before the army opened its ranks. Some former slaves risked their lives to enlist, swimming or rowing boats from plantations to Union ships anchored nearby. The enlistees could achieve no rank higher than “boys” and receive pay of one ration per day and $10 per month.

Eight African-American sailors won the U.S. Medal of Honor for their courage in battle during the Civil War. Despite such valor, Blacks were barred from the Navy after World War I, and not allowed to enlist again until 1932 and then only as kitchen help.

In 1942, the Navy accepted volunteers for general service but prohibited them from going to sea. In 1949, Wesley Branch became the first black graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy. And in 1996, Admiral J. Paul Reason became the Navy’s first black four-star admiral.



1886
Peter “The Black Prince” Jackson wins the Australian heavyweight title, becoming the very first Black man to win a national boxing crown.


1907
On this date, we celebrate the origin of the Booker T. Washington Literary Club. Started in Ohio, the first President of the club was Rev. George Washington of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The club was geared to cater to the Afro-Americans students at Ohio University. Later the club was called the B.T.W. Literary Society. The club disbanded in 1916.


1911
Dr. Eric Williams, former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, was born.


1924
In a letter to his friend Alain Locke, Langston Hughes writes “I’ve done a couple of new poems. I have no more paper, so I’m sending you one on the back of this letter.” The poem, “I, Too”, will be published two years later and be among his most famous.


1951
Robert Allen “Bob” McAdoo, Jr. is born. He will become a one of the best-shooting big men of all time in professional basketball. He will win Rookie of the Year, a Most Valuable Player Award and three consecutive scoring championships, all in his first four years in the NBA. Over fourteen seasons, McAdoo will score 18,787 points and average 22.1 point per game. A five-time NBA All Star, he will shoot .503 from the field and .754 from the line, scoring in double figures in all but one season.


1952
Bell Hooks was born on this date. She is an African-American author, Black feminist and social critic.

Born Gloria Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, she uses the name bell hooks (spelled without capitals) to honor her mother and grandmother. In 1973, she graduated Stanford University, followed by a degree from University of Wisconsin in 1976 and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1983.

Hooks feels that many current social issues (especially race, gender, sex, class, and sexual orientation) are interconnected, and that positive social change requires confronting them “as a whole”. Some of her views could be called radical or possibly anti-white. She spells “Black” with a capital but spells “white” in lower-case. She is also Buddhist, and many of her writings and interviews deal with Buddhism. She is best known for her critique of, and strategy against, what she terms “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy”. Hooks has taught at Yale and Oberlin College. She is currently Distinguished Professor of English at City College in New York and is requested speaker.

Her many writings include: Ain’t I a woman: Black women and feminism, 1981. Feminist theory from margin to center, 1984. Talking back: thinking feminist, thinking black, 1989. Yearning: race, gender, and cultural politics, 1990. with Cornel West. Breaking bread: insurgent Black intellectual life, 1991. Black looks: race and representation, 1992. Sisters of the yam: black women and self-recovery, 1993. Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom, 1994. Outlaw culture: resisting representations, 1994. Art on my mind: visual politics, 1995. Killing rage: ending racism, 1995. Bone Black: memories of girlhood, 1996. Reel to real: race, sex, and class at the movies, 1996. Wounds of passion: a writing life, 1997. with Christopher Raschka. Happy to be nappy, 1999. Remembered rapture: the writer at work, 1999. Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, 2000. Where We Stand: Class Matters, 2000. Salvation: Black People and Love, and All About Love: New Visions, 2001. Be Boy Buzz, 2002 and Communion: The Female Search for Love, 2002. Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem, 2002. We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity, 2003.



1957
With 300 U.S. Army troops of the 101st Airborne Division, nine African American children (The Little Rock Nine), forced to withdraw the previous day from Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, because of unruly white crowds, are escorted to back to class. President Dwight Eisenhower ordered the troops when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus used National Guardsmen to block the students from entering the school, putting him direct violation of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS, which banned segregation in public schools. The Little Rock Nine, Thelma Mothershed, Elizabeth Eckford, Gloria Ray, Jefferson Thomas, Melba Patillo, Ernest Green, Carlotta Walls, Minnie Brown, and Terence Roberts, were led by Daisy Bates, who then headed the Arkansas conference of NAACP branches. In 1999, the group members were awarded Congressional Medals, the top civilian award bestowed by Congress and, in 2005, a statue to commemorate their civil rights battle was dedicated outside the governor’s office in Little Rock. A Central High School National Historic Site is slated to be dedicated during the 50th anniversary commemoration of the historic milestone.


1962
A Black church was destroyed by fire in Macon, Georgia. This was the eighth church burned in Georgia since August 15.


1962
The Continuing Struggle. Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett again defied court orders and personally denied James Meredith admission to the University of Mississippi.


1962


Sonny Liston knocks out Floyd Patterson in the first round to become the world heavyweight boxing champion.


1965
Willie Mays hits his 50th home run of the baseball season, making him the oldest player to accomplish this. He was 34 years old. Ten years before this, at the age of 24, he was the youngest man to accomplish the same feat.


1965
Scotty Pippen is born. He will become a professional basketball player and will be traded to the Houston Rockets in 1998 after 11 distinguished seasons with the Chicago Bulls, for whom he averaged 18.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 833 NBA games. He will earn All-NBA First Team honors three times in his career and All-Defensive First Team honors in each of seven seasons (1992-1999. In addition, Pippen will earn NBA World Championships in six of the eight years and Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996. He will be selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.


1968
Will Smith was born on this date. He is an African-American actor and entertainer.

From West Philadelphia, Smith has 1 brother and 2 sisters, among whom Harry and Ellen who are twins. His mother, Caroline, used to be a school board worker and his dad, Willard Smith Sr., worked as an engineer and has been owner of a refrigeration company. He graduated from Overbrook High School where received the nickname “Prince” from his teachers because of the way he “charmed his way through”. Later, he added “Fresh” to it. He started rapping at parties at 12 and that’s how he met Jeff A. Townes; they started performing together in duo as DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. So far they have recorded 5 albums: Rock The House, He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper (Grammy-winning), And In This Corner, Home base, Code Red as well as a few hit singles, such
as “Nightmare on My Street” and “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and a Greatest Hits album. Big Willie Style was a huge global success in 1998, and so is Willennium this year. His participation to Men in Black: The Album made impact.

In 1990, he was offered him to play in a sitcom based on his life. That’s how Will started acting in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which was successful and lasted 6 years. In 1992, he had his first film role in Where the Day Takes You and also appeared in Made In America. In 1993, he starred in Six Degrees of Separation. But the real fame started only in 1994, with the release of Bad Boys. The blockbuster Independence Day came in 1996, then Men in Black in 1997, co-staring Tommy Lee Jones, followed by Enemy of the State and Wild Wild West, and The Legend of Bagger Vance 2000. Will’s latest movies are Ali and I Robot.

He was previously married to Sheree Zampino. He has two sons, Willard Smith III, nicknamed Trey, and Jaden Christopher Syre Smith. Will is now been with Jada Pinkett (also an actress). They’ve been married since December of 1997. A passionate chess player he also owns a production company, Will Smith Enterprises, working on behalf of talents Tatyana Ali, former FPBA co-star and others.

His Brother and sisters are working for him; Harry is his chief financial officer, Ellen, (who studied as a cosmetologist) is receptionist and Pam helps in the managing of Will’s business back in Philadelphia, an ice-manufacturing company and a charitable foundation that puts money into local resources.

However Smith has been criticized for his lip service to his home town. Several of his songs talk about parts of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. While he has spoke over the years about how much he loves the city and how much he wants to give back, none of his proposed ventures in the city of Philadelphia have ever been developed. He has proposed opening a restaurant, several upscale bars, and a community center in Philadelphia which have never seen development. ‘Men in Black 3’ is set for release in 2007, 10 years after the 1st film: Men in Black. Will Smith is also planned to star in a feature film remake television series of “It Takes a Thief.”



1974
Barbara W. Hancock becomes the first Black woman named a White House fellow.


1988
Florence Griffith Joyner runs 100 meters in record Olympic time of 10.54 seconds.


1991
Spencer Williams’ 1942 movie “Blood of Jesus” is among the third group of 25 films added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. William’s movie was about an atheist who accidentally shoots his Baptist wife. She dies and goes to an afterlife crossroads, where the devil tries to lead her astray. Williams, best known for his role of Andy in the television series “Amos ‘n’ Andy”, was more importantly, an innovative film director and a contemporary of Oscar Micheaux. Williams’s film joins other classics like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001: A Space Odyssey".


2003
On this date, a Nigerian woman won an acquittal in court avoiding death by stoning.

Amina Lawal a Nigerian peasant sentenced under Islamic law to death by stoning for having had sex outside marriage was set free by the highest religious court in her state. Her case had become a flash point in the debate over the reintroduction of Shariah, or Islamic law, across northern Nigeria and a difficult political problem for a nation already inflamed by deep religious and regional divides. Death-by-stoning is not allowed under the Nigerian constitution.

The ruling by the Katsina State Sharia Court of Appeals relied largely on technicalities, and it is unclear what impact it will have on the dozens of other Shariah sentences pending before Islamic courts, including death-by-stoning. During the same week, another Shariah court in northern Nigeria convicted a man of sodomy and sentenced him to death by stoning.


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