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1856
Timothy (“T.”) Thomas Fortune was born a slave in Marianna, Florida to father and mother Emanuel and Sarah. Timothy Thomas Fortune and his family were forced to leave their home because of dissent after emancipation. Moving to Jacksonville, young Fortune became a compositor at a local newspaper. In 1874, he enrolled at Howard University having to drop out for financial reason and get work for a black weekly newspaper. He returned to Florida after getting married and worked for several newspapers in the area.

The racism there again forced him to relocate, this time to New York City in 1881 where he found work at the Globe. In was at this time that he wrote a politically motivated book, Black and White: Land, Labor, and Politics in the South (1884). Fortune was a key figure in the founding of the Afro-American League (AAL) in 1887, an early vehicle for civil rights agitation which lasted until 1893. While working for the New York Age newspaper, he offered Ida B. Wells work after her Memphis Newspaper was destroyed by a white mob. It was here where her stunning exposé’s of lynching were published.

In 1898, Fortune himself toured the south and reported the worsening conditions of Jim Crow Laws and entrenched racism, it was at this time that he solidified his friendship with Booker T. Washington. Fortune not only publicized Tuskegee Institute in the Age, but also used his literary skills to polish and promote Washington’s views, including his The Future of the American Negro (1898). In 1900, a number of issues arose in and around Fortune’s career. He served as chairman of the National Negro Business League (NNBL), but could not move into the political arena he desired. This was mainly because of Washington‘s power and need to keep Fortune as an “independent” journalist.

Opinions from William Trotter in his publication the Boston Guardian about the money from Tuskegee supporting too much of the Age did not help. Additionally, in 1907, Washington’s secret takeover of the Age eventually led to Fortunes nervous breakdown. In 1914 with the Age deteriorating, Washington lured Fortune back, where he remained for three years. He then moved on in journalism to write for papers in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Washington D.C. and elsewhere. He was able to regain much self-respect in the 1920’s.

He became editor of Marcus Garvey’s the Negro World in 1923, Timothy Fortune was considered a major spokesman for Black America before Washington’s ascent into prominence. He edited the World until his death in June of 1928. An advocate for full equality for African Americans, he also served as editor of the weekly New York Globe, and founder of the New York Freeman (later the New York Age) and the Washington Sun.



1879
The birth of Jesse Stahl is celebrated on this date. He was an African-American cowboy and rodeo star.

From Tennessee, Stahl, an inductee into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, was a major saddle bronco rider. Although exceptionally talented, Stahl who had a brother Ambrose seldom placed higher than third at the major rodeos mainly because he was Black. At one rodeo where he’d clearly bested his competitors, Stahl was awarded second place. Perhaps to mock the judges, he rode a second bronco while facing backward. A spectacular ride by black Stahl, on a previously un-ridden bucking horse called “Glass Eye” was one of the highlights of the show.

He repeated his triumph by riding another notorious bucker, “Tar Baby,” backwards with a suitcase in his hand. Stahl retired in 1929 and was probably the most famous black cowboy of all time. Another black cowboy, Ty Stokes, and Jesse Stahl rode a bucking horse seated back to back it was what was called “a suicide ride.” The total attendance in 1912 was 4,000.

Some rodeo enthusiast consider Jesse Stahl the greatest of all bronco riders; neither is surprising when one considers that approximately five thousand black cowboys rode the cattle trails in the 19th Century.



1881
Dudley Weldon Woodard was born on this date. He was an African-American mathematician.

From Galveston Texas his father worked for the U. S. Postal Service. Woodard was a smart youngster whose curiosity was supported by his family. After finishing his primary education in his home state, Woodard attended Wilberforce College in Ohio, receiving a bachelor degree (A. B.) in mathematics in 1903. He then received a B.S. degree in 1906 and an M. S. degree in mathematics at the University of Chicago in 1907. From 1907 to 1914, Woodard taught mathematics at Tuskegee Institute and then moved to join the Wilberforce faculty from 1914-1920.

In 1921, he joined the mathematics faculty at Howard University. During this time received his Ph.D. Mathematics in 1928 at the University of Pennsylvania. Woodward’s thesis was entitled: On Two-Dimensional Analysis Situs with Special Reference to the Jordan Curve Theorem. While at Howard, he was also selected Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences where he worked until 1929. Woodard became the second African American to earn a Ph.D. degree in mathematics. Woodard was married and had a son who later joined the faculty at Howard. Dr. Woodard established the M. S. degree program in mathematics, making Howard’s mathematical program as one of the best for study among America’s Historically Black Universities and Colleges.

He was the thesis supervisor for many of Howard’s M. S. degree students. He also established the mathematics library at Howard. He established and sponsored several professorships and many scholarly seminars in mathematics. Among his colleagues and students, Woodard excelled and was very popular as professor and administrator. He was highly respected by those who knew him in the mathematical sciences community. Deane Montgomery, former president of the American Mathematical Society and the International Mathematical Union described Woodard as, “an extremely nice man, well-balanced personally.” Leo Zippin, who was an internationally known specialist in Woodard’s field, said that he was “one of the noblest men I’ve ever known.”

Dr. Woodard was not only a brilliant mathematician, but a man of dignity; he enjoyed life in spite of his racial environment. He used the phrase, “black is beautiful” in the 1930s; he often ignored the “colored” signs and visited any men’s restroom of his choice. He also ate at many “nice” restaurants and enjoyed the theaters of his choice in New York. He and his family once moved in what had been an all-white neighborhood because it was aesthetically nice and it was near Howard. Woodard devoted his entire professional life to the promotion of excellence in mathematics through the advancement of his students, teaching and research. Dudley Woodard retired in 1947 and died July 1, 1965 in his home in Cleveland Ohio.



1903
Felton G. Clark, educator, was born in Baton Rouge, LA. Dr. Clark received his first college degree from Southern University in 1922, eight years after his father founded it with seven faculty members and an annual budget of $10,000. Receiving his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1925, he taught at Southern from 1927 to 1930. He taught at Howard University, 1931-33, returning to Southern in 1934 as dean of the college. He became the president of Southern in 1938, at the age of 35, serving until his retirement in 1969.


1904
Mary McLeod Bethune, educator, opened a normal and industrial school for African-American girls African-American girls in Daytona Beach, FL, on this day. Started in a rented house with only five students, in less than two years she attracted 250 pupils. By 1916, the school had grown into the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute and was affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

The school merged in 1923 with Cookman Institute for boys located in Jacksonville and became Bethune-Cookman College. The newly christened Bethune-Cookman College was established as a high school with junior college courses in 1924. Despite the heavy financial squeeze of the Great Depression, Bethune-Cookman became a two year college in 1939, a four year college shortly after and received a Grade A accreditation in 1947, the last year of Dr. Bethune’s presidency. Dr. Bethune would later say the college was started on “faith and a dollar and a half.”

Bethune-Cookman is one of the leading institutions for training teachers and one of more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America. In 1990 it was the only historically black college founded by a woman. It is the 6th largest of the 39-member UCNF colleges with a student body nearing 3,000. Bethune-Cookman offers Bachelor of Science degrees in 39 major areas through six academic divisions: Business, Education, Humanities, Nursing, Science/Mathematics, and Social Sciences. The college is accredited by: Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Florida State Department of Education, The University Senate of the United Methodist Church, AMA Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration National League for Nursing.

Born July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, SC, Bethune attended Scotia Seminary (now Barber Scotia College) in Concord, NC, and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Upon graduation from Moody, she returned to the South to teach. After 20 years of work, Bethune won national acclaim when President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her the first Black woman to head a U.S. government agency when she was named to head the Division of Minority Affairs for the National Youth Administration. She died on May 18, 1955.


1913
This date remembers the birth of David Pitt. He was a physician and one of first black politicians in Great Britain.

Born on the island of Hampstead in Grenada in the West Indies, David Pitt attended Grenada Boys’ Secondary school and was raised a devout Roman Catholic. In 1932 he won Grenada’s only overseas scholarship to attend the prestigious medical school at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. After graduating with honors, he returned to the West Indies in 1938 and practiced medicine in St. Vincent and Trinidad. There he met and married Dorothy Alleyne; they had three children.

In 1943 Pitt helped found the West Indian National Party and served as its president until 1947. This party was considered radical in its day because it advocated independence for Trinidad within a West Indian federation. He won election to the borough council in San Fernando, Trinidad, where he also served as deputy mayor. In order to lobby the British government for independence, he traveled to Great Britain in 1947. His efforts were unsuccessful, and he grew disillusioned with West Indian politics. He decided to settle in the London district of Euston, where he established a medical practice that he ran for more than 30 years. In the 1950s, Pitt was one of the few blacks active in defending the growing black population of Great Britain against discrimination and prejudice. In the 1960s and 1970s, he organized to help immigrants and improve race relations.

Pitt became the first and only chair of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD), an association founded with the encouragement of Martin Luther King Jr. Pitt believed in fighting racism within the existing power structure. In 1959, Pitt sought to represent London’s wealthy Hampstead district in Parliament, becoming the first West Indian black to seek a seat in Parliament. After a campaign plagued by racist insinuations, Pitt lost the election. In 1961, however, Pitt won election representing the ethnically mixed, working-class Hackney district in London’s city government, the London County Council (LCC).

In 1964, the Greater London Council (GLC) absorbed this body. He served as deputy chair of the GLC from 1969 to 1970 and in 1974 became the first black chair, a post he held until 1975. Pitt paved the way for the multiracial politics for which the GLC became known. In 1970 Pitt ran for Parliament again, this time as a candidate in London’s Clapham district, a secure Labor seat that many believed he would win. He lost by an unusually large margin; race undoubtedly played a large role in his defeat.

He was bitterly disappointed, and did not attempt to run for Parliament again. In 1975 Prime Minister Harold Wilson appointed Pitt to the House of Lords as Lord Pitt of Hampstead. According to Pitt himself, however, his most valued honor was his election as president of the British Medical Association from 1985 to 1986, a position few general practitioners achieve.

At a time when prejudice and even violence against blacks was common in Great Britain, David Thomas Pitt spoke out for the unrepresented black immigrant community. In his obituary for Pitt in the Guardian in 1994, black British journalist Mike Phillips wrote: “At that point, Dr. Pitt was the only Black person who figured in the public and political life of the country; and as such, if only by default, when he spoke, he spoke for us.”

After his death, many lamented that Pitt “should have been the first Labor Member of Parliament.” David Pitt died December 18, 1994 in London, England.



1926
Marques Haynes is born. He will become a professional basketball player, and become “The World’s Greatest Dribbler.” In the publication, “Harlem Globetrotters: Six Decades of Magic” (1988), he will be cited as dribbling the ball as many as six times a second. He will retire in 1992 after a 46-year professional career as player and coach. He will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on October 2, 1998.


1935
Ethiopia, one of the only two independent African nations at the time, was invaded by Fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini, despite Emperor Haile Selasse’s pleas for help to the League of Nations. The Italians, seeking revenge for their prior humiliating loss to Ethiopia over 40 years earlier, committed countless atrocities on the independent African state. Poisonous gas, aerial bombardment, flame throwers, and concentration camps were all employed against the ill equipped Ethiopian people. Black outrage throughout the world was unified. The League of Nations, forerunner to the UN, was criticized sharply for supplying weapons to Italy and not to Ethiopia. Such actions confirmed Black suspicion that the war was of racial motivation and sought to extinguish the last light of African power in the world. From Kingston to Johannesburg, from Detroit to Ghana, form Port-of-Spain to Paris, Black men and women offered to go fight in defense of Ethiopia. And as battles raged between Ethiopians and Italians in Africa, battles raged between Blacks and Italians in the streets of New York. In South Africa, Black workers began a lengthy march up the continent to assist their African brothers in Ethiopia. Elsewhere, ex-service men discarded their European and American citizenships to bring their military expertise to the defense of Ethiopia. The exiled Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie became a near legendary figure to many. Not before or ever since was such a strong sense of Pan-Africanism seen throughout the world. And though Italy succeeded in defeating the African nation, Blacks everywhere would continue the struggle until Ethiopia was free.


1941
Ernest Evans is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Later adopting the name “Chubby Checker” after the renowned Fats Domino, his best-known recording will be the 1960’s “The Twist,” which will spark the biggest dance craze since the Charleston in the 1920’s.


1949
The first African American owned radio station, WERD-AM in Atlanta, Georgia, is founded by Jesse Blanton, Sr.


1950
On this date, The Beulah Show was broadcast for the first time. This was the first American television situation comedy to star an African American, Ethel Waters.

The Beulah Show ran on radio from 1945 to 1954. The Beulah TV shows ran concurrently for three seasons, Tuesday nights until September 22, 1953, on ABC. Beulah was a housekeeper and cook for the Henderson family: father Harry, mother Alice and son Donnie. Most of the comedy in the series is derived from the fact that Beulah, referred to as “the queen of the kitchen” had the ability to solve the problems that her white employers could not figure out. Other characters included Beulah’s boyfriend Bill Jackson, a handy-man who is constantly proposing marriage, and Oriole “acting white” a puzzled maid for the family next door.

Originally portrayed by white actor Marlin Hurt, Beulah first appeared in the early 1940s as a supporting character on the popular Fibber McGee and Molly radio series. In 1945, Beulah was spun off into her own radio show, The Marlin Hurt and Beulah Show, with Hurt still in the role. After he died of a heart attack in 1946, he was replaced by another white actor, Bob Corley, and the series was renamed The Beulah Show.

African American actress Hattie McDaniel took over the role in 1947, continuing in The Beulah Show until she became ill in 1952 and was replaced by Lillian Randolph, who was in turn replaced for the 1953-1954 radio season by her sister Amanda Randolph. In 1950 Roland Reed Productions modified it into a TV situation comedy for ABC with Ethel Waters in the title role from until 1952. McDaniel, Louise Beavers, Butterfly McQueen and Ruby Dandridge were used at various times.

The show for TV was directed from time to time by Richard L. Bare and Abby Berlin. Beulah was canceled at the end of the 1952-1953 seasons. From there, black characters in effect disappeared from television, with only small and occasional roles surfacing. The next television program to star a black woman in the title role would be Julia in 1968, starring Diahann Carroll.



1950
Gerald Boyd was born on this date. He was an African-American journalist and editor.

From St. Louis, his mother, who had sickle cell anemia, died when he was very young. His father was a delivery truck driver and an alcoholic, moved to New York and played little role in his childhood. Boyd and his older brother, Gary, were raised by their paternal grandmother, who was also raising their two cousins. Their younger sister, Ruth, was raised by their maternal grandmother in California.

A graduate of the University of Missouri, Boyd joined the Times in 1983 after serving as White House correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. At 28, he was also the youngest journalist chosen for a prestigious Nieman fellowship at Harvard. At a lecture in St. Louis Boyd told the hometown audience, “Throughout my life I have enjoyed both the blessing and the burden of being the first black this and the first black that, and, like many minorities and women who succeed, I’ve often felt alone.”

The reversal of Boyd’s career came in June 2003, when he and Howell Raines, the paper’s executive editor, resigned after revelations of fabrications and plagiarism by a young reporter, Jayson Blair, ignited a firestorm of newsroom criticism against their management. Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement: “Gerald was a newsman. He knew how to mobilize a reporting team and surround a story so that nothing important was missed. He knew how to motivate and inspire. “And, tough and demanding as he could be, he had a huge heart. He left the paper under sad circumstances, but despite all of that he left behind a great reservoir of respect and affection.”

In the years after his resignation, Boyd wrote a weekly syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate to help people understand how newsroom decisions are made and began working on a memoir. Boyd’s career, which took him from the end of the civil rights era to the beginning of the Internet era, was built on competitiveness and a determination to get the story right. As he rose in prominence, he became a beacon of possibility for aspiring black journalists.

Gerald Boyd, who began work as a teenage grocery bagger in St. Louis and rose to become managing editor of The New York Times died on November 22, 2006. He was 56 and lived in Manhattan.



951
Dave Winfield is born in St. Paul, Minnesota. He will be selected in four major sports league drafts in 1973 - NFL, NBA, ABA, and MLB. He will choose baseball and play in 12 All-Star Games over a 20-year career with the San Diego Padres, the New York Yankees, and the California Angels.


1956
Nat King Cole (Nathaniel Adams Cole), famed singer, became the first Black to host his own TV show on this day. “The Nat King Cole Show” appeared on NBC Tuesday nights. It was a popular show that garnered exceptional ratings. But, because of racism, no company would sponsor the show. Without sponsorship, the show was not able to survive. Cole was born on March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, AL. In the early 1940s he was considered one of the leading jazz pianists of his day. Cole’s vocal recording of Straighten Up and Fly Right (1943) won him great fame as a singer. In 1946 he recorded The Christmas Song, the million-selling tune remains a Christmas classic today. He appeared in many films, including Pin Up Girl, Stars on Parade, Breakfast in Hollywood, and Saint Louis Blues. Cole died of cancer in 1965.


1962
Mrs. Laura Ray Young, the first Black woman postmaster in the United States, died in Shelybyville, KY, at the age of 63. Mrs. Young was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, holding that position until her death.


1968
The Great White Hope, a Broadway play about the life of boxer Jack Johnson, opened on this date with James Earl Jones in the starring role.


1970
The International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (I.A.B.P.F.F.) was founded in Hartford Connecticut on this date.

In September of 1969, black and minority fire fighters of all ranks across the United States met in New York City to discuss the racial injustices in American fire fighting municipalities. That meeting created the I.A.B.P.F.F. Discussed that week in September were the recruitment of black youth into the fire service, firefighters-community relations with special emphasis on relations with the residents of neighborhoods inhabited by blacks, inter-group relations and practices in fire departments, and the need to improve fire prevention programs in the areas of greatest need.

The I.A.B.P.F.F. Connecticut convention produced their constitution and their proposed structure was adopted. The I.A.B.P.F.F. ensures that black and minority fire department officials become full partners in the leadership and decision-making arenas of the fire service through their Preamble, Purpose & Aims and Memberships.



1975
Frank Robinson was named manager of the Cleveland Indians, making him the first Black manager of a Major League Baseball team on this day. Robinson, who had won the Most Valuable Player award in both American and National leagues (the Cincinnati Reds in 1961 and the Baltimore Orioles in 1966), was given a one-year contract as a player-manager for $175,000. During his 19-year career as a baseball player, Robinson had a batting average of .295, 2,900 hits, 1,778 runs batted in and over 500 home runs. He developed a reputation as an aggressive outfielder and hard-charging base runner. Robinson is considered one of baseball’s living legends. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.


1979
Artist Charles White joins the ancestors at the age of 61 in Los Angeles, California.


1989
Art Shell is named head coach of the Los Angeles Raiders. He is the first African American coach named in the National Football League in over 60 years. Shell, a former offensive tackle who played in eight Pro Bowls, was drafted third-round (80th pick overall) by the Oakland Raiders in 1968. He worked as an assistant coach for seven years before he was named head coach of the Raiders. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 5, 1989. Shell served a second stint as Raider coach during the team’s 2006 season. A native of Charleston, SC, he was born on November 26, 1946.


1994
U.S. soldiers in Haiti raid the headquarters of a pro-army militia that is despised by the general Haitian population.


1994
Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy announces his resignation because of questions about gifts he had received.


1994
South African President Nelson Mandela addresses the United Nations, urging the world to support his country’s economy.


1995
Ex-football star O.J. Simpson is cleared today of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.


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