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
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.
The birth of Jesse Stahl is celebrated on this date. He was an African-American cowboy and
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.
Woodard was born on this date. He was an
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
in the 1920’s.
The first African American owned radio
station, WERD-AM in Atlanta, Georgia, is founded by Jesse Blanton, Sr.
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
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
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.
Gerald Boyd was born on this date. He was an African-American journalist and
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Artist Charles White joins the
ancestors at the age of 61 in Los
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.
U.S. soldiers in Haiti raid the
headquarters of a pro-army militia that is despised by the general Haitian
Secretary Mike Espy announces his resignation because of
questions about gifts he had received.
South African President Nelson Mandela addresses the United Nations, urging the world to support his country’s
Ex-football star O.J. Simpson is cleared today of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her
friend Ronald Goldman.