Crispus Attucks escapes
from his slaveholder and slavery in Framingham,
MA aboard a whaling ship. In
1770, Attucks was the first person to die in the Boston Massacre. He and over
5,000 Blacks fought in the American Revolution.
José Morelos y Pavyn was born on this date. He was an Afro-Mexican priest, soldier,
abolitionist, and an early leader of Mexico’s
struggle for independence from Spain.
Morelos was born in Morelia (then known as “Valladolid” and later renamed in his honor) in what is now
the state of Michoac6n, then part of New Spain.
At the age of 33 he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. In 1810 he joined
the rebellion against Spain
called for by Miguel Hidalgo. After Hidalgo
was captured and executed, Morelos took over as the leader of the revolution.
In 1812, he effectively fought against the Viceroy’s Spanish army, and captured
the cities of Oaxaca and Acapulco, Mexico’s
main Pacific seaport, the following year.
Morelos is a national hero of Mexico.
In addition to the city of Morelia,
the state of Morelos was named after him. Morelos was captured by Spanish
forces and shot as a traitor at the village
of San Cristybal Ecatepec
on December 22, 1815. His lieutenant Vicente Guerrero continued the fight after
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical
University was founded on this date. FAMU is one of
over 100 Historical Black Colleges & Universities in America.
In its beginning, classes started with fifteen students and two instructors. In
1910, with an enrollment of 317 students, the college awarded its first
degrees. In 1953, the university staff increased by more that 500 and the
college’s name was changed by legislative action from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College
to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical
University. At this time,
a four-quarter plan was implemented, and the school became the first Negro
institution to become a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and
In 1971, FAMU was recognized as a full partner in the nine-university, public
higher education system of Florida.
The program and academic areas within the institution were extended to include
the Black Archives Research Center and Museum, established as a state repository
for black history and culture, the Division of Sponsored Research, a Program in
Medical Sciences in conjunction with FSU and the University of Florida, the
development of the School of Architecture, a Naval ROTC unit, cooperative
programs in agriculture, and a degree-granting program in Afro-American
In 1984, the University was granted the authority to offer its first Doctor of
Philosophy degree, a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. By spring 1992, nine students had
been awarded a Ph.D. in pharmacy since inception of their doctoral program.
On this date, a Race Riot broke out in Elaine, Arkansas in Phillips County between Blacks and whites.
At the time many African-American sharecroppers had not received their share of
wages and they wanted to join the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of
America. Also, the early years of the twentieth century were the time of “Red
Summers,” violent years after reconstruction.
The white citizens of the town thought the society was trying to persuade the
sharecroppers to create violence. That month union members met near Elaine
under armed guards. Two armed white men, one a deputy sheriff, the other a
railroad worker showed up and a fight developed. Both men were shot and a
railroad worker was killed. For two days, several African-Americans and white
citizens of the area were killed in fighting. The fighting ended when Arkansas
Gov. Charles Brough brought in United
States soldiers to contain the violence. At
the end of the violence, 65 African-Americans were brought to trial.
Twelve were sentenced to death and the others appealed to higher courts. Scipio
Jones, an African-American lawyer from Little
Rock, helped to fight for justice for the accused at
Elaine. He received assistance from the (then) newly formed National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As a result, the
rest of the condemned men were set free and the governor brought
African-American and white citizens together for discussion on problems between
the races. No clear-cut answer for the violence was ever found.
Presently attempts to come to terms with what truly occurred have led to
efforts to pay reparations to the victims. No one at this point is leading an
effort for reparations in Elaine. Robert Miller, who last year became the first
Black mayor of nearby Helena,
grew up hearing the stories because he is related to one of the four black men
who were killed in custody. Because of the riots, his grandmother sent his
father to Boston
to attend school. Currently, race relations in the county are particularly
The West Helena mayor’s office and City
Council are divided along racial lines, and so is the county Quorum Court. Last week, an Oklahoma state commission recommended reparations for
Black survivors of a 1921 rampage by white mobs in Tulsa. Historians say as many as 300 blacks
were killed. In 1994, Florida approved $2
million in compensation for nine survivors and dozens of descendants of a 1923
attack on Blacks in Rosewood, Fla.
This date marks the birth of Johnny Mathis. He is an
Born John Royce Mathis in Gilmer, TX, he was raised in San Francisco, CA,
and is one of the last and most popular in a long line of traditional male
vocalists who emerged before the rock-dominated 1960s. Johnny Mathis studied
with an opera coach as a young boy, and was almost lured into the profession;
his other inspirations were crossover jazz vocalists of the 1940s; Nat King
Cole, Billy Eckstine and Lena Horne. Mathis concentrated on romantic readings
of jazz and pop standards.
Though he started with a series of singles-chart activity, Mathis later made it
big in the album market, where a dozen of his LPs hit gold or platinum and over
sixty made the charts. While he focused on theme-oriented albums of show-tunes
and traditional favorites, he began incorporating soft rock by the ‘70s and
remained a popular concert attraction well into the ‘90s.
Mathis was an exceptional high-school athlete in San Francisco, but was wooed away from a
college track scholarship and a potential spot on the Olympic squad by the
chance to sing. He was signed to a management contract by club-owner Helen
Noga, who introduced the singer to George Avakian, jazz producer for Columbia
Records. Avakian signed him and used orchestras conducted by Teo Macero, Gil
Evans and John Lewis to record Mathis’ self-titled debut album in 1957. Despite
the name talent and choice of standards, it was mostly ignored upon release.
Columbia A&R executive Mitch Miller decided the only recourse was switching
Mathis to Miller’s brand of pop balladry, and the formula worked like a charm;
the LP Wonderful, Wonderful spawned a Top 20 hit later in 1957 with its title
track, which was followed by the number five It’s Not for Me to Say and his
first number one, Chances Are. From that point on, Johnny Mathis concentrated
strictly on lush ballads for adult-contemporary listeners.
Mathis moved away from show-tunes and traditional pop into soft rock during the
‘70s, and found his second number one single, Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,
in 1978. Recorded as a duet with Deniece Williams, the single prompted Mathis
to begin trying duets with a variety of partners (including Dionne Warwick,
Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight and Nana Mouskouri), though none of the singles
enjoyed the success of the original.
Mathis continued to release and sell albums throughout the ‘90s, in his fifth
decade of recording for Columbia
among them 1998’s Because You Loved Me: Songs of Diane Warren. Mathis has more
than 50 gold & platinum records and has the longest run for an album on the
billboard pop charts, 480 weeks. “Wonderful, Wonderful,” “Misty,” “Chances
Are,” “It’s Not For Me To Say,” and “Twelfth of Never” were some of other
“Porgy and Bess,” a folk opera by composer George Gershwin, has its
premiere in Boston
at the Colonial Theatre. It was a flop! It was revived in 1942 and ran longer
than any revival in the history of American musical theater.
Brath, political activist, talk show host, and cofounder of the
Patrice Lumumba Coalition and cofounder of the first Naturally Natural (hair)
beauty contest is born.
This date celebrates the establishment of the Baltimore Elite Giants baseball team. This was one the many Negro League Baseball teams of
the twentieth century.
Over 30 communities located primarily in the Midwest,
northeast, and south were home to franchises organized into 6 different
leagues. In Baltimore,
their nickname is pronounced “EE-light” with a Southern twang. The Giants
migrated from Nashville to Columbus,
Ohio to Washington
D.C. and finally Baltimore in
1938. They won the Negro National Title in 1939 and 1949. The Elite Giants gave
Joe Black, Junior Gilliam and Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella their initial
exposure to professional baseball before becoming bums with the Brooklyn
The 1942 season was the best-ever for the club when they had a 37-15 record,
tops in the Negro National League. The Baltimore Elite Giants were in the Negro
National League 1938-1948, and the Negro American League 1949-1950. While in Baltimore the Homestead
Grays were the dominant team. The Elites would play them every year and finally
in 1939 the Elites claimed the championship, beating the Grays in a four-team
post season tournament. In 1946 Tom Wilson sold the franchise due to health problems,
and two years later the league folded.
In 1949, after the league had been reconstructed and under the new management
of Lennie Pearson, the Elites won the Eastern Division and Western Division. In
1950 after the team got second place in the East, while suffering financial
problems, the team was sold to William Bridgeforth for $11,000. The team
returned to Nashville
for a final season, and subsequently was dissolved.
Frankie Lymon is born in New
York City. He
will become the lead singer of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and will record
his signature song, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” at age fourteen. He will
develop a serious drug problem before he turns twenty and will join the
ancestors after succumbing to a drug overdose on the bathroom floor of his grandmother’s
apartment at age 25, on February 28, 1968.
Marilyn McCoo (Davis) is born in Jersey
City, New Jersey. She
will become a singer with the group, “The Fifth Dimensions”. Some of the hits
with the group will be “Up, Up and Away,” and “Aquarius.” She will have a solo
hit, “One Less Bell to Answer,” and will record “You Don’t Have to be a Star”
with her husband, Billy Davis, Jr. She will later become a TV hostess for “Solid
Gold” from 1981-1984, and from 1986-88. She will also be a TV music reporter
Robinson, the first Black baseball player in the Major Leagues, became
the first Black to compete in the World Series on this date.
A large force of federal marshals escorted James H. Meredith to the campus of the University of Mississippi. President Kennedy federalized the Mississippi National Guard and urged Mississippians to
accept the orders of the court in a radio-TV address. As a result, University of Mississippi
students and adults from Oxford,
Miss., and other Southern
communities rioted on the university campus. Two persons were killed and one
hundred or more were wounded.
Formerly known as Bechuanaland, the
African nation of Botswana gained its
independence on this date with Sir Seretse
Khama as its first president.
Virgie M. Ammons of Eglon, West Virginia patented, the “Inside the
fireplace chimney” It was also called a “Damper.”
The damper is opened and closed to allow smoke from the fireplace to be drawn
upward out of the house. The “Fireplace Damper Actuating Tool” designed by
Ammons allows the damper to be “locked” in the closed position, preventing cold
air and dust from blowing down the chimney back into the house.” Patent No.
Ali and Joe Frazier square off
in the “Thrilla in Manila.” Ali wins this fight and retains his
world heavyweight title when, after 14 rounds, Frazier’s trainer refused to let
Two Centuries of Black American Art opens at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The
exhibit features over 60 lithographers, painters, and sculptors including 19th
Century masters Joshua Johnston, Edward Bannister, and Henry O. Tanner as well
as modern artists Charles White, Romare Bearden, and Elizabeth Catlett. The
introduction to the exhibit’s catalogue asserts that the assembled artists’
work proves that the human creative impulse can triumph in the face of impossible
odds, and at times even because of them.
On this date, we remember the founding of the California African American Museum (C.A.A.M.).
Chartered by the State of California, the C.A.A.M.
is governed by a seven member Board of Directors appointed by the Governor, and
two ex-officio positions held by the state legislators who represent the 48th
Assembly District and the 25th Senatorial District.
They opened in temporary quarters at the California Museum of Science and
Industry in 1981. The current museum facility in Exposition Park of Los Angeles
was built with a grouping of State and private funds and opened to the public
in July 1984 during the Olympic Games. The building was designed by African
American architects Jack Haywood and the late Vincent Proby.
Some of the many fine exhibitions and programs featured at the C.A.A.M. include
The Black Olympians; Black Angelenos: The Afro American in Los Angeles,
1850-1950; and Rhythms of the Soul: African Instruments in the Diaspora
exhibitions, as well as the John Outterbridge retrospective, an emerging
artists program, and an artist in residency program. Their exhibitions have
dealt with the past, of course, while with issues as contemporary as the Rodney
Traveling shows also have been presented such as 3 Generations of African
American Women Sculptors: A Study in Paradox; Elizabeth Catlett Sculpture: A
Fifty-Year Retrospective; Half Past Autumn, the Gordon Parks retrospective,
Hair in African Art and Culture, and much more. In the year 2002, you can
experience such magnificent exhibitions as Deconstructing
Apartheid/Resurrecting Culture: The Photography of Peter Magubane, 1955 to 2000
and the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company art collection.
The (C.A.A.M.) exhibits and programs tell a story that is still being
discovered and preserved, an energetic narrative that celebrates the African
American’s contributions to society.
Mike Powell broke the world long jump world record when he jumped 8.95 meters at a
meet in Tokyo.
The previous mark-8.90 meters-was set by Bob Beamon at the 1968 Olympics.
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s
first freely elected president, is overthrown by a military junta. The
three-member junta that takes over begins a campaign of terror and violence
that in a three-year period will cause the deaths of over 5000 Haitians and
force tens of thousands to flee the island by boat. Jean-Bertrand Aristide sat
in the presidency for only seven months.
On this date, Jazz at Lincoln
Center celebrated the
dedication of the Ertegun
Jazz Hall of Fame. This event included the official induction
of its inaugural class of members.
Housed in the new home of Jazz at Lincoln
Center, Frederick P. Rose
Hall, the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, interactively immerses visitors in the
lives and artistry of jazz greats. Jazz at Lincoln Center Board member Ahmet
Ertegun and his wife, Mica, in honor of his late brother, Atlantic Records
partner Nesuhi Ertegun named it. The musicians inducted into the Ertegun Jazz
Hall of Fame were: Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Bix Beiderbecke, John
Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Billie
Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Jelly Roll Morton, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum and
Inductees” family members, friends and fellow artists were on-hand to receive
the honors on their behalf. Awards were presented by Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson,
James Carter, Benny Golson, Herbie Hancock, Hank Jones, Abbey Lincoln, Wynton
Marsalis, James Moody, Nicholas Payton, Randy Sandke, Clark Terry, Frank Wess,
Randy Weston, Dr. Michael White and Bob Wilber.
The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, which was designed by the Rockwell Group and
opened to the public on October 21, is a multi-media installation featuring a
14-foot video wall, interactive kiosks, touch-activated virtual plaques and the
great sounds of jazz. The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame”s physical design
celebrates jazz by emphasizing flexibility and improvisation, and utilizes
materials, such as cork, wood and brass, found in jazz instruments.
The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame is free and open to the public between the hours
of 10am-4pm, Tuesday through Sunday.