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
as a state senator and alderman. Revels died on January 16, 1901, in Aberdeen, MS.
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.
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.
Branch Normal College opens in Pine Bluff,
AR. A segregated unit of the
state university, the college was established by Joseph C. Corbin.
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
John Mercer Langston named minister of Haiti.
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.”
Xavier University, first Black
in US, opens in New Orleans LA.
Bud Powell was born on this date. He was an African-American jazz pianist and
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
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.
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.
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
At present, she runs the Negro Leagues Baseball Shops in Bowie, MD.
They specialize in hats, memorabilia and clothes honoring Negro League stars.
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.”
Black leaders protested discrimination in the armed forces and war
industries at a White House meeting with President Roosevelt.
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.
Brooks is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry, “Annie
Allen.” She was the first Black cited by the Pulitzer committee.
Charles is defeated by Joe Louis in a heavy
weight championship fight in New York
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.
Public school integration begins in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.
Leone becomes the 100th member of the United Nations.
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.
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.
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.