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.
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.
On this date, John Russwurm was born. He was
an Black abolitionist and Liberian government official.
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
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.
Fannie M. Richards was born on this
date. She became an educator and civil rights activist.
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.
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.
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.
Morgan State College (now University)
is founded in Baltimore, Maryland.
Kentucky State College (now University) is founded in Frankfort, Kentucky.
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
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
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
Senior High School.
Florence Powell was widowed in 1974, and in 1991 she died in Richmond, Virginia.
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.
Company formally recognizes the Brotherhood
of Sleeping Car Porters.
The Spingarn Medal is awarded to Walter
White, NAACP secretary, for his leadership and work in the anti-lynching movement.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.”
Rod Carew, baseball
Hall of Famer and American League Rookie of the Year in 1967, is born.
Heavyweight champion, Joe
Louis, is discharged from the Army.
United States’ control of Haitian Custom Service and governmental revenue ends.
Supreme Court voids state statute banning interracial marriages.
Edward Dudley is named Ambassador to Liberia.
Spingarn Medal was presented to Channing H. Tobias for his “consistent role as a
defender of fundamental American liberties.”
Infantry Regiment, the last of the all African American military units authorized by Congress
in 1866, is deactivated in Korea.
On this date, Juanita James was born. She is
a writer, who has been coined, “the Gatekeeper of Prose.”
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.
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
East & West Cameroon merge and become
the Federal Republic of Cameroon.
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.
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.
The Black Panther party is founded
in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.
Brazilian soccer great, Pelé, retires with 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.
Dallas Cowboy, Ed “Too Tall” Jones records his 1,000th NFL tackle.
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.
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
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.”