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1822
Hiram Rhodes Revels, minister and politician who became the first Black United States senator, was born on this day. He represented the state of Mississippi. Revels was a native of Fayetteville County, NC. At that time Blacks in the state were forbidden to learn to read and write, so as a young man, he moved to Ohio where he studied at a Quaker seminary. He later graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, IL. Like many of his contemporaries, Revels first made the ministry his career and served in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Mississippi. Although Revels served in the U.S. Senate a little over a year (from Feb. 25, 1870 to March 3, 1871), he quickly became known as an outspoken opponent of racial segregation and broke new ground for Blacks in Congress. Prior to his work in the Senate, Revels served in Mississippi as a state senator and alderman. Revels died on January 16, 1901, in Aberdeen, MS.


1862
The 1st Louisiana Native Guards, the first Black regiment to receive official recognition, was formed on this date. It was one of the first all-Black regiments to fight in the Union Army during the American Civil War. A predecessor regiment by the same name existed in the Confederate States Army. Regiment was composed of free Blacks of New Orleans. From its formation in September 1862 until early May 1863, the 1st Louisiana Native Guard largely performed fatigue duty–chopping wood, gathering supplies, and digging earthworks. From January 1863 to May 1863, it also guarded the railway depots that ran along the rail line between Algiers (no part of New Orleans) to Brashear City (now call Morgan City). By this time, its numbers had diminished to 500.

In mid–1863, the 1st Louisiana Native Guard, along with the 3rd Louisiana Native Guard, had its first chance at combat and participated in the first assault at the Siege of Port Hudson on May 27, as well as those of the other members of the 1st Louisiana Native Guard who fell with him that day, was left on the field in New Orleans on July 29, 1863.


1867
Louisiana voters endorse the constitutional convention and elect delegates in the first election under The Reconstruction Acts. The vote was 75,000 for the convention and 4,000 against.


1875
Branch Normal College opens in Pine Bluff, AR. A segregated unit of the state university, the college was established by Joseph C. Corbin.


1876
Edward Mitchell Bannister wins a bronze medal for his painting “Under the Oaks” at the American Centennial Exposition, in Philadelphia. The award will cause controversy among whites who think African Americans incapable of artistic excellence.


1877
John Mercer Langston named minister of Haiti.


1912
William Christopher (W.C.) Handy published “Memphis Blues”, his first Blues Song, in Memphis, TN. It was “St. Louis Blues,” though, that brought him the title, “Father of the Blues.”


1915
Xavier University, first Black Catholic College in US, opens in New Orleans LA.


1924
Bud Powell was born on this date. He was an African-American jazz pianist and composer.

Born Earl Powell in New York City, he was the son and grandson of musicians who began studying European classical forms as a child. He helped to bring jazz piano into the modern age. A bebop innovator with an uncannily fluid style, Powell’s technical facility and creativity overshadowed his personal inconsistency and the difficulties he faced in dealing with some fellow musicians. One poignant story had Powell being teased one night by his friend, pianist Art Tatum, for not making enough use of his left hand. The next evening, Powell played brilliantly while seated atop his right hand and using only his left. Tatum was in the audience and had nothing but praise.

He played in Cootie Williams’ big band from 1943-‘44. He became part of the bop scene shortly thereafter, working with saxophonist Charlie Parker and various others. and in smaller combos led by Dizzy Gillespie and others. The pianist, whose circle of friends included keyboardists Thelonious Monk, Elmo Hope and Herbie Nichols.

Bud Powell’s life included many health problems. His first major hospitalization occurred in 1945, reportedly the result of a brutal beating suffered at the hands of members of the Philadelphia police force. The remainder of his life was marred by numerous hospitalizations, bouts of depression, electro-shock therapy and the use of tranquilizers and alcohol.

Powell began to suffer from emotional problems that kept him from working steadily. In 1959 he moved to France but returned in 1964 to play at New York City’s Birdland. Powell made a series of marvelous recordings for the Blue Note, Roost and Verve labels. He spent 1959-‘64 in Europe, taking up residence in Paris, then returning to the United States for a brief concert tour. He stayed in New York, disappeared in early 1965 and turned up dead July 31, 1966.

The titles of Powell’s compositions, which remain jazz standards, reflect his problems, “Un Poco Loco,” “Hallucinations” and “Glass Enclosure” are a few. Powell served as the basis for Dexter Gordon’s character in the 1986 movie Round Midnight, although elements of the lives of Lester Young and Gordon also were written into the character. Regarded as an originator of the modern jazz piano style, Powell was also active in developing the genre known as bebop.



1934
Actor Greg Morris from the “Mission: Impossible: television series of the late 1960’s was born on this date in Cleveland, OH. He will come to Hollywood in the early 1960s to become an actor after some minor stage experience in Seattle. He will have guest roles on such series as “Dr. Kildare,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Twilight Zone” before being cast in “Mission: Impossible.” He will be one of the first African American actors to star in a hit series during the 1960s, playing Barney Collier, the quiet, efficient electronics expert on “Mission: Impossible,” which ran from 1966 to 1973.  In 1979, he will go to Las Vegas to film the television series “Vega$,” in which he plays Lt. David Nelson. He will like the city so much he will decide to make it his home. He will join the ancestors after succumbing to cancer there in 1996.


1935
Mamie Johnson was born on this date. She was an African-American baseball player.

From Ridgeway, South Carolina, she played with the Alexandria All-Stars, St. Cyprians and other semi-pro baseball teams around the Washington, DC. In 1953, she became a member of the Indianapolis Clowns at the age of 19 and pitched for three years. That year Johnson finished with an 11-3 record. In 1954, she went 10-1 and in 1955, she finished 12-4. Hit between .252 and .284 in each season. When she wasn’t pitching, she played second base.

For two seasons as a member of the Clowns, Johnson was a teammate of future home run leader Hank Aaron. She also credits her pitching success with a lesson she learned from “Satchel” Paige who taught Johnson to throw her curve ball. “He just showed me how to grip the ball to keep from throwing my arm away, ‘cause I was so little.”

Johnson tried to become a member of the Women’s Professional Baseball League the brainwave for the movie “A League of Their Own.” She wasn’t allowed to participate in the league because she was an Black. “I’m glad they turned me down,” she says. “Otherwise, I would have just been another woman who played women’s baseball.”

At present, she runs the Negro Leagues Baseball Shops in Bowie, MD. They specialize in hats, memorabilia and clothes honoring Negro League stars.



1936
Don Cornelius is born. He will become the creator, producer, and host of the TV show, “Soul Train” in 1970. The show will become the longest running program originally produced for first-run syndication in the entire history of television. The show’s resounding success will position it as the cornerstone of the Soul Train franchise which includes the annual specials: “Soul Train Music Awards,” the “Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards” and the “Soul Train Christmas Starfest.”


1940
Black leaders protested discrimination in the armed forces and war industries at a White House meeting with President Roosevelt.


1944
Stephanie Pogue is born in Shelby, North Carolina. She will become an artist and art professor whose works will be collected by New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art and the Studio Museum of Harlem while she will exhibit widely in the United States, Europe, Japan, and South America.


1950
Gwendolyn Brooks is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry, “Annie Allen.” She was the first Black cited by the Pulitzer committee.


1950
Ezzard Charles is defeated by Joe Louis in a heavy weight championship fight in New York City.


1953
Diane Abbott is born in the working-class neighborhood of Paddington in London, England. Her mother (a nurse) and father (a welder) had moved there in 1951 from Jamaica. A graduate of Cambridge University, she will make history on June 11, 1987, becoming the first female of African descent to be a member of the British Parliament. Her outspoken criticism of racism and her commitment to progressive politics will make her a controversial figure in Great Britain’s Labour Party.


1954
Public school integration begins in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.


1961
Sierre Leone becomes the 100th member of the United Nations.


1967
Washington DC’s Anacostia Museum dedicated to informing the community of contributions by African Americans to U.S. political, social, and cultural history, opens its doors to the public.


1988
Several athletes, among them black Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, are expelled from the Olympic Games for anabolic steroid use. Johnson’s gold medal, won in the 100-meter dash, is awarded to African American Carl Lewis, the second-place finisher.


2000
Venus Williams won the Olympic Gold Medal in women’s singles tennis in Sidney, Australia, on this date. Williams defeated Elena Dementieva, 6-2, 6-4.


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