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1750
The birth of Peter Salem is celebrated on this date. He was a black soldier and patriot.

Though Salem’s birth year is not certain he was born a slave in Framingham, Massachusetts. His owner, Jeremiah Belknap, named him after his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. In America’s early years, Massachusetts, monitoring an insurrection by Blacks, made it illegal for them to serve in the military. When the need for soldiers increased during the French and Indian Wars Blacks were pressed into military duty. In mid-1775, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety recruited (only) free Blacks.

Salem had been sold to Major Lawson Buckminster, who freed him. He became one of the Minutemen heroes of the American Revolutionary War. On April 19, 1775, he fought at Concord, Massachusetts. A week later, he enlisted in Colonel Nixon’s Fifth Massachusetts Regiment. He served in Captain Drury’s company and fought with Drury at the Battle of Bunker Hill. At dawn on June 17, 1775, General William Howe ordered fire on the Americans three times and drove them northward across Bunker Hill. In this battle the Americans had 400 dead and wounded men; the British lost more than 1,000.

Salem was credited with the shot that killed British Major John Pitcairn. Salem re-enlisted in 1776 and fought at Saratoga and Stony Point. General George Washington forbade blacks from soldiering. After Virginia’s governor, Lord Dunmore, freed slaves to serve the British, Washington reversed his own orders, and in January 1776, Salem re-enlisted. After the war, Salem built a cabin near Leicester, Massachusetts, and worked as a cane weaver. He died in the Framingham poorhouse in 1816. He is buried at the Old Burying Ground. In 1882, the town of Framingham erected a monument in his honor.



1799
On this date, John Russwurm was born. He was an Black abolitionist and Liberian government official.

From Jamaica, John Brown Russwurm was the son of an unknown slave mother and a white merchant. At the age of eight a young John Brown (as he was known) was sent to Quebec for formal schooling. In 1812, his father married Susan Blanchard who insisted John acknowledge his parentage name.
He then brought young John to Portland, Maine. He attended Hebron Academy, and Bowdoin College where he was one of the first Black university graduates in 1826.

One year later Russwurm arrived in New York where he founded the first Black newspaper in America, Freedom’s Journal. The basic theme of the newspaper was to vocalize demands to end slavery in the South and gain equal rights for blacks in the North. In 1829, in despair over the lack of hope for Blacks in America, he shocked the black community by resigning from the paper to take a post in Liberia. This position was a forerunner to Pan-Africanism.

After arriving in Monrovia, Russwurm quickly gained a professional foothold learning several African languages. From 1830 to 1835, he edited the Liberia Herald, resigning in protest over American colonization policies. As the first Black governor of the Maryland section of Liberia, he established positive relations with neighboring nations, encouraged arrival of African-Americans, and worked diplomatically with whites. His administration supported and enhanced agriculture and trade.

John Russwurm died there in 1851; a monument was erected to his memory near his burial site in Harper, Cape Palmas, Liberia.



1841
Fannie M. Richards was born on this date. She became an educator and civil rights activist.


1846
On this date, we remember the birth of Theophile T. Allain. He was a Black farmer, merchant and Reconstruction Era politician.

Born a slave in Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, Theophile T. Allain was categorized as mulatto, and treated as free by his father. He accompanied his father to Europe, traveling to the north and receiving an education from private tutors between 1856 and 1858. After the Civil War, he attended school in New Brunswick, NJ. Allain returned to his home state in 1869 and acquired the family plantation. He invested in a merchant’s business plan, which consisted of land for sugar, rice, cattle, and a grocery store.

Known as an accomplished sharpshooter, he also formed ties with the leading commercial businessmen of the south, enjoying a substantial annual income, and employing over thirty people. Allain was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1870, but denied his seat because of balloting irregularities. He was an election supervisor in 1872, and was elected and served in the Louisiana House from 1872 to 1874, their Senate 1874-1880, and the House again 1881 to 1890, which included him being a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1879. Allain supported the Unification Movement, which, sought to create a political alliance of black and white moderates.

He also helped to establish Southern University as a state-supported Black institution differing with some black leaders who opposed it as a concession to racial segregation. He moved to Chicago before the turn of the century and eventually ended up in Washington D.C., where in 1899, he was on the national executive committee of the Afro-American League. He had 6 children, all of whom attended Straight University. Theophile Allain died in Louisiana in 1917.



1851
William “Jerry” Henry, a runaway slave and craftsman who had settled in Syracuse, New York, was arrested by a United States Marshal and scheduled to be returned to slavery. Ten thousand Black and White abolitionists of the city stormed the sheriff’s office and courthouse, free Henry, and aid his escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad.


1868
John Mercer Langston founded and organized the Law Department of Howard University, the first in a black school. He headed the department when classes formally began on January 6, 1869, and was its dean from 1870 to 1873. From 1873 to 1875 he was vice-president and acting president of the university.


1872
Morgan State College (now University) is founded in Baltimore, Maryland.


1886
Kentucky State College (now University) is founded in Frankfort, Kentucky.


1903
Florence Powell was born on this date. She was an African-American educator and the first Black woman to receive professional training in library science in the United States.

From Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania,
Florence Virginia Proctor Powell received her early education in local public schools. After both her parents died, Powell moved to Pittsburgh to live with her aunt where in 1915, she graduated from Fifth Avenue High School. She also received her Bachelors degree in English from Oberlin College in 1919. Her first job was in St. Paul, Minnesota with the YWCA’s Colored girls’ section as a secretary, after a year she returned to Pittsburgh to work in her aunt’s beauty parlor. Her aspirations for employment in the Pittsburgh school system were discouraged due to racism but her fiancé (Charles) aware of her love of children and literature, introduced Powell to the idea of a career in library science.

After the needed applications for the Carnegie Library School were obtained, she was admitted in 1922, and completed the course of study within one year. Unfortunately, because schools official were uncertain about placing the first Black graduate, Powell did not receive her diploma until several years later. Powell began her new career in 1923 at the New York Public Library, continuing there for four years.

Upon taking and passing the New York high school librarian exam, she was appointed librarian at the Seward High School in Brooklyn, remaining there until 1931. That same year she married her fiancé and moved to Jefferson City, Missouri where she was the “First Lady” of Lincoln University (where her husband was president). They moved back east in 1938, Florence resumed her career, and Charles became chairman of the English department at Virginia Union University in Richmond.

She was also librarian at Cardozo High School in Washington DC until 1945. After an illness, she continued at Maggie L. Walker Senior High School. Florence Powell was widowed in 1974, and in 1991 she died in Richmond, Virginia.



1935
The first official bargaining agent for black workers was the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. This was the first major nationwide black union that was founded by A. Phillip Randolph.


1937
The Pullman Company formally recognizes the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.


1937
The Spingarn Medal is awarded to Walter White, NAACP secretary, for his leadership and work in the anti-lynching movement.


1939
George R. Carruthers was born on this date. He is an African-American Astrophysicist.

From Cincinnati, Ohio Carruthers received his B.S. Physics from University of Illinois in 1961, M.S. Physics in 1962, and his Ph.D. in aeronautical and astronomical engineering in 1964 with a dissertation entitled: Experimental Investigations of Atomic Nitrogen Recombination. He was a member of the American Astronomical Society, the American Geophysical Union, AIAA, AAAS, National Technical Association, and has been Chairman of the Editing and Review Committee and Editor, Journal of the National Technical Association, 1983 to present.

Dr. Carruthers held the position of Rocket Astronomy Research Physicist from 1964 to 1982. He was Head of the Ultraviolet Measurements Branch of the Naval Research Laboratory. An inventor as well as physicist, George Carruthers was instrumental in the design of lunar surface ultraviolet cameras. Dr. Carruthers research focused on research in experimental investigations of atomic nitrogen recombination.

He has received many awards including: Arthur S. Fleming Award (Washington Jaycees), 1971, Exceptional Achievement Scientific Award Medal NASA 1972, the Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the National Science Foundation Fellow, and the Honorary Doctor of Engineering, Michigan Technological University.



1941
Dr. Charles Richard Drew was appointed Medical Director of the Plasma Project of Great Britain on this date. Thousands of lives were saved in WWII as a result of his work with blood plasma banks and in the gross production of human plasma.


1943
On this date, Willie L. Williams was born, one of seven children, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He became a Los Angeles Police Chief. He is the first Black man to head the Los Angeles police force.


1944
Dr. William A. Hinton’s test for diagnosing syphilis was approved by the Maryland State Department of Health as the only test to be used for diagnosing the disease on this day. Called the Hinton Test, it was extensively used during World War II by the Army, and the United States Public Health Service considered it best for determining the presence of syphilis. A Chicago native, Dr. Hinton earned a B.S. degree from Harvard University in 1905 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1912, with honors. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, he joined the staff of the Harvard Medical School as an assistant in preventive medicine and hygiene. During the summer of 1949, Dr. Hinton was promoted to the rank of clinical professor. He was the first Black to become a professor at Harvard Medical School in its 313-year history! Hinton retired in 1950 with the status of professor emeritus. He died August 8, 1959, at the age of 75 at his home in Canton, MA.


1945
Donny Hathaway was a born on this date. He was an African-American composer and vocalist.

He was born in Chicago, but grew up in St. Louis and began singing gospel at age three. Hathaway attended Howard University on a fine arts scholarship and was a classmate of Roberta Flack. He began recording for Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label in 1969, and then he signed with Atco records. His single The Ghetto was a mild hit, but the duet You’ve Got a Friend with Flack was his first Top Ten R&B market leader.

Together, they would later score two number one hit duets, Where Is the Love and The Closer I Get To You. Both were also Top Ten pop sensations. Hathaway’s vocal sound, delivery, and quality have influenced singers from Stevie Wonder to George Benson, while his compositions have been recorded by an assortment of artists including Cold Blood, Jerry Butler, the Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, and Aretha Franklin.

Hathaway and Flack had two concluding hits; You Are My Heaven and Back Together Again, in 1980, after Hathaway stunned everyone by committing suicide, in 1979, at age 33. An influential pop and Rhythm & Blues singer of the 1970s, one of his other hit songs was “The Ghetto.”



1945
Rod Carew, baseball Hall of Famer and American League Rookie of the Year in 1967, is born.


1945
Heavyweight champion, Joe Louis, is discharged from the Army.


1947
United States’ control of Haitian Custom Service and governmental revenue ends.


1948
The California Supreme Court voids state statute banning interracial marriages.


1948
Edward Dudley is named Ambassador to Liberia.


1948
Spingarn Medal was presented to Channing H. Tobias for his “consistent role as a defender of fundamental American liberties.”


1951
The 24th Infantry Regiment, the last of the all African American military units authorized by Congress in 1866, is deactivated in Korea.


1952
On this date, Juanita James was born. She is a writer, who has been coined, “the Gatekeeper of Prose.”


1952
Joe Black became the first black pitcher to win a World Series game. The Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees 4-2. Black was also the 1952 Rookie of the Year.


1960
Nigeria Independence Day is celebrated on this date. On this date, Nigeria was formally granted its independence from England ending Britain’s 60-year rule over the vast country in western Africa. Three years later on this day in 1963, Nigeria established itself as the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The country now consists of 36 states and the federal territory. Abuja became the official state capital in 1991. The nation’s major cities are Lagos and Ibadan and the official language is English, which is taught in the schools throughout the country. Nigeria’s current population is 113,828,587 and there are over 250 different ethnic groups, which have their own languages in addition to English. These include: Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo. The basic unit of money is Naira. The estimated population for 1995 for Nigeria is 105,134,000. Nigeria is an agricultural society. It is Africa’s leading producer of crude oil. Nigeria’s other industries include mining and food processing. Its main export crops include cocoa, cacao, peanuts and beans. Others include palm products, corn and rice.

Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 after a thirty three year interruption; from 1966 until 1999. Nigeria had been ruled (except the short-lived second republic, 1979-1983) by military dictators who seized power in coups d’état and counter-coups during Nigerian military juntas of 1966-1979 and 1983-1998.


1961
East & West Cameroon merge and become the Federal Republic of Cameroon.


1962
James H. Meredith, escorted by federal marshals, as he becomes first Black student registered at the University of Mississippi. Before his admission, 12,000 federal troops quelled riots against his admission.


1962
Edwin A. Walker, former major general in the U.S. Army, was arrested and charged with inciting insurrection and seditious conspiracy. Walker, who led federal troops during the Little Rock integration crisis, had call for “Volunteers” to oppose federal forces in Mississippi. Witnesses said he led students in charges against federal marshals during the campus riot.


1966
The Black Panther party is founded in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.


1977
Brazilian soccer great, Pelé, retires with 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.


1989
Dallas Cowboy, Ed “Too Tall” Jones records his 1,000th NFL tackle.


1991
Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell assumes her duties as dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. A noted art historian, Schmidt had previously served as commissioner of cultural affairs, director of the Studio of Harlem, and chair of the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Committee that recommended creation of a national African American museum.


1997
Gilda Jackson, a Special Projects Officer at Cherry Point, NC, received her promotion to Marine Colonel on this date, becoming the first Black woman to hold an O-6 rank in Marine Corps history.


2003
On this date, white conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh resigned from ESPN television. This was because of racial comments he directed at African-American athlete Donovan McNabb.

Three days earlier he said the Philadelphia Eagles football player was overrated because the media wanted to see a Black quarterback succeed. Before McNabb led the Eagles to a 23-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills Limbaugh said on ESPN’s pre-game show that he didn’t think McNabb was as good as perceived from the start.

His direct on-air quote was: “I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well,” Limbaugh said on “Sunday NFL Countdown. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”


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