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1750
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.


1765
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 his death.



1887
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 Schools.

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 Studies.

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.



1919
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 strained.

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.



1935
This date marks the birth of Johnny Mathis. He is an African-American singer.

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 popular songs.



1935
“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.


1936
Elombe 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.


1938
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 Dodgers.

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.



1942
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.


1943
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 for “Preview.”


1947
Jackie Robinson, the first Black baseball player in the Major Leagues, became the first Black to compete in the World Series on this date.


1962
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.


1966
Formerly known as Bechuanaland, the African nation of Botswana gained its independence on this date with Sir Seretse Khama as its first president.


1975
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. 3,908,633.


1975
Muhammad 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 him continue.


1976
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.


1977
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 King beating.

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.



1991
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.


1991
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.


2004
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 Lester Young.

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.


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