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October 4–7, 1864
The National Convention of Colored Citizens of the United States assembled in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, in Syracuse, NY on the first day at 7:00 P M. 140 attended from 8 states, including Virginia, North Carolina, South Caroline, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, of Washington, D.C., called the Convention to order, and read the call, which appeared in the Liberator on September 9, 1864. John M. Langston, Esq., of Oberlin, O., was chosen temporary Chairman; Frederick Douglass as its president, and Wm. Howard Day, of New Jersey, and St. George R. Taylor, of Pennsylvania, Secretaries. Its Address to the People of the United States was written by Frederick Douglass.

La Tribune de la Nouvelle Orléans (The New Orleans Tribune), the first African American daily newspaper, is founded by Dr. Louis C. RoudanezThe newspaper, published in both English and French, started as a tri-weekly, but soon became an influential daily. Belgian scientist Jean-Charles Houzeau became managing editor of the New Orleans Tribune that year. Ardently sympathetic to the plight of Louisiana’s black population and reveling in the fact that his dark complexion led many people to assume he was black himself, Houzeau passionately embraced his role as the Tribune’s editor and principal writer. The paper closed on February 28, 1869.

Presently the New Orleans Tribune is a monthly news magazine targeted to the upscale African-American community. Founded in 1985 by Dr. Dwight and Beverly McKenna, the Tribune has earned a reputation as a fearless, pioneering advocate for social, economic and political issues often ignored by the mainstream press. Monthly features and departments highlight prominent government, business and community leaders, and feature topical stories on education, health, arts/entertainment, government, business, and technology.

The founding of Edward Waters College (EWC) is celebrated on this date. It is one of over 100 Historical Black Colleges and Universities in America.

Following the Civil War, the Reverend Charles H. Pearce, was sent to Florida to establish another church by Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne. He saw the call to educate newly emancipated Blacks in the state and raised funds to establish a school in 1866, which evolved as Edward Waters College. Courses were first offered at the elementary, high school, college, and seminary levels. In 1870, during the session of Florida’s Tallahassee Conference of the AME Church the school’s name became Brown Theological Institute this was chartered in 1872. It then purchased ten acres of land in Live Oak where construction of the first building began.

That year, the name was changed to “Brown University.” But financial difficulties from an embezzlement scheme awarded the school properties to creditors and the school was dormant for a decade. By 1883, the school was reopened as the “East Florida Conference High School” and later the “East Florida Scientific and Divinity High School.” In 1892, educational programs were extended and the name was changed to Edward Waters College in honor of the third bishop of the AME Church. In 1901, a storm completely destroyed the College and much of the City of Jacksonville.

In 1904 following several years in rented quarters, Edward Waters College purchased their present Kings Road site. The Centennial Building, the B.F. Lee Theological Seminary, is currently the College’s administration building. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools first accredited Edward Waters College in 1955 as a junior college. In 1958, the school expanded to offer senior college work. By 1960 the college restored its four-year curriculum and granted the bachelor’s degree. In 1985 EWC grew to an average full-time enrollment of 650 students and became the 43rd member of the United Negro College Fund. EWC places a worth on developing morally and well-accepted citizens among its students.

All on-campus students must attend chapel every Wednesday morning, which is also professional dress day and they are expected to bring business casual attire in order to be properly dressed for school based special occasions. The college library also features a distinctive collection of African art. Edward Waters College is located at 1760 Kings Road, Jacksonville, Florida.

This date celebrates the town of Nicodemus, Kansas. Long before southern Blacks migrated to the industries of the north, another area was a brief haven for many Blacks from the old confederacy.

Established during reconstruction, Nicodemus, Kansas was the first primary Black rural settlement after slavery. On April 16th of that year, a circular predicted Nicodemus would become the “Largest Colored Colony in America.” In June, W.R. Hill filed a 160-acre town site plat with the government land office in Kirwin, Kansas, founding the proposed site. Over the next three years, the first businesses of Nicodemus (a general store including a pharmacy), attorney and land agent offices and later a Post Office and church were added.

The official census of February 1880 counted 595 Blacks or 20% of the entire population of the county. In June of that year, an average of seven acres per homestead was put into cultivation. On August 1st 1881, Emancipation Day in Nicodemus (an annual celebration that continues today) was first observed. The town was named for a legendary slave who foretold the coming of the Civil War. In 1910, the Black population of the county reached its peak of 700. The fate of Nicodemus hinged on the railroad that though proposed never happened, in April, The Missouri Pacific line stalled at Stockton, Kansas.

The Union Pacific ran south of the Solomon River bypassing Nicodemus by six miles. In 1950 the town was reduced to 16 inhabitants, three years later The Post Office closed. Nicodemus completed a cycle of existence in almost 80 years. In 1976, Nicodemus was designated a National Historic Landmark. On November 12th, 1996, Congress established the Nicodemus National Historic Site in Graham County, Kansas.

Carrie Allen McCray was born on this date. She is an African-American writer.

Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, she attended the Virginia Seminary Primary School. Her father, William Patterson Allen, was a lawyer; her mother, Mary Rice Hayes Allen, was a college teacher. As the ninth of ten children, McCray’s Virginia childhood had warmth with a close community. When she was seven, her family moved to Montclair, New Jersey where she attended Spaulding Elementary School, Hillside Junior High, and Montclair High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Talladega College in 1935 and her master’s degree in social work from New York University in 1955.

In 1940, McCray married Winfield Scott Young, which ended in divorce in 1945. She did marry a second time to John H McCray. James Weldon Johnson and Langston Hughes, among others, were guests in the Allen home, as were more unusual and less constrained figures that also came into the Allen’s’ lives. The tensions of race and gender that defined McCray’s early life continued into her adult years.

Her list of writings include Ajös Means Goodbye, 1966. Other published works by McCray are The Black Woman and Family Roles (1980). Her poems have also appeared in Ms. Magazine, The River Styx, Gloria Steinem’s book; Moving Beyond Words, The Crimson Edge: Older Women Writing, The South Carolina Collection, and The Squaw Review. Her first person memoir, Freedom’s Child: The Life of a Confederate General’s Black Daughter was published in 1998. Although she began to take her writing seriously at the age of 73, McCray makes it clear that only very recently has she been able to think of herself as writer in a professional sense.

Carrie Allen McCray has made her home in Columbia, South Carolina since 1986.

Malvin Gray Johnson joins the ancestors in New York City. His deceptively simple paintings, with their warm colors and serene, sensuous charm, had earned him a large and loyal group of admirers during the Harlem Renaissance.

Joe Walcott, World Welterweight Boxing Champion during the early 1900’s, joins the ancestors after being struck and killed by a car. He is perhaps the only West Indian (from Barbados), universally recognized as a boxing legend. Walcott stood at five feet, one and a half inches, his fighting weight at 142 pounds, basically a midget version of Mike Tyson. His short powerful physique enabled him to bob and weave, catching his opponent’s punches on his powerful shoulders and his granite-like head.

Lee Patrick Brown is born in Wewoka, Oklahoma.  He will become one of the top-ranking law-enforcement executives in the United States, first as Public Safety Commissioner in Atlanta, Georgia, then as the first African American police chief in Houston, Texas, the second African American police commissioner for New York City, and the first African American mayor of Houston.

On this date, H. Rap Brown was born. He is an African-American activist, writer and spiritual leader.

Hubert G. Brown is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He became involved with the Civil Rights Movement while a student at that city’s Southern High School. He attended Southern University but left there in 1962 to devote himself to civil rights. Brown spent summers in Washington D.C. with his older brother Ed and became a member of the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG). In 1964, while chairman of NAG, he became involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and in 1966, he was appointed their voter registration director in Alabama.

One year later he succeeded Stokely Carmichael as National Chairman of SNCC and in 1968 Brown served as minister of justice for the Black Panther Party during a brief working alliance of the two Black Power organizations. As the urban rebellions of black discontent spread across America during the late 1960’s Brown’s eloquent militant advocacy stance made him a popular and effective speaker. These talents were the source of his adopted name “Rap,” and were also displayed in his book Die Nigger Die! (1969). The police and the FBI constantly harassed Brown. He was arrested in 1967 for transporting weapons across state lines while under indictment though he was never formally notified he was under that charge.

He resigned as chairman on SNCC and went into hiding, making the FBI’s ten most wanted list in 1970. Brown was apprehended in 1972 and released four years later. He converted to Islam while in prison, taking the name Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (beautiful servant of Allah the trustworthy). After his release, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he lives as the proprietor of a grocery store called the Community Store. He was the Imam (leader) of the Atlanta Mosque as well as communities in Chicago, New York, and Detroit.

Al-Amin is a strict Sunni Muslim in his interpretation of the Koran and his followers make aggressive outreach efforts to college campuses, malls, and the surrounding community. Al-Amin’s Mosque operates its own 300-student school as well. Currently the 57-year-old Al-Amin is in a Georgia jail awaiting another trial. Al-Amin is accused of killing Fulton County Deputy Ricky Kinchen and wounding Deputy Aldranon English as they tried to serve him with an arrest warrant at his grocery store in west Atlanta on March 16th, 2000.

His indictment was based on the identification of him as the gunman and on lab tests showing that the two weapons recovered after his arrest in White Hall, Alabama, matched shell casings found at the shooting scene. Al-Amin was found guilty on March 9, 2002 on 13 counts including murder.

Dancer Pearl Primus makes her Broadway debut at the Belasco Theater. She will become widely known for blending the African and American dance traditions.

Clifton Davis is born in Chicago, Illinois.  He will become an actor and singer, performing in “That’s My Mama,” and “Amen” on television. He will also become a minister in the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Lesotho (Basutoland) gains its independence from Great Britain.

Howard N. Lee and Charles Evers are elected the first African American mayors of Chapel Hill, N.C. and Fayette, Miss., respectively.

Elgin Baylor announces his retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers. After 14 years in the NBA, Baylor had scored 23,149 points, the third highest in the league, and was the fifth highest career rebounder.

Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz resigns in the wake of a controversy over a joke he had made about Blacks.

Rayford Logan, educator, historian, author, dies.

Herman Marion Sweatt, the plaintiff in the infamous Sweatt v. Painter separate-but-equal decision, died in Atlanta, GA.

Bill and Camille Cosby make a $20 million gift to Spelman College.

The Martin L. King, Jr. Federal Building is dedicated in Atlanta, GA. It is the first federal building in the nation to bear the name of the slain civil rights leader.

The Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Illinois is dedicated in the memory of its beloved former mayor.

Exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide vows in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, to return to Haiti in 11 days.

President Clinton welcomes South African President Nelson Mandela to the White House.

Congress passes a bill authorizing the creation of 500,000 Black Revolutionary War Patriots Commemorative coins.

On this date, an African Burial Ground in New York City was re-established.

The African Burial Ground is a 5 or 6-acre cemetery that was used between the late 1600’s and 1796 and originally contained between ten thousand and twenty thousand burials. In June of 1991 the discovery of the African Burial Ground happened. Earlier that month construction workers began to dig the foundation for a new $300 million federal government building in lower Manhattan. It all stopped when they dug into a burial ground, where they found wooden coffins and human remains.

Investigators discovered that this was a colonial burial ground used to bury Africans who were not permitted to be buried in church cemeteries, even if they had converted to Christianity. Despite the harsh treatment that these African people in colonial America seemed to receive, the 427 remains which were finally recovered from the site were buried with great care and love on this date. They were wrapped in linen shrouds and methodically positioned in well-built cedar or pine coffins, sometimes with beads or other treasured objects, occasionally with ornamentation on the coffin.

The African Burial Ground is a reminder of the contribution of African people, both slave and free, to the building of New York City. Many Americans were not aware that New York was a slave state in the early days of the nation. New York had the largest number of enslaved people in North America except for Charleston during the 18th century. It is estimated that Africans made up between 14-20% of New Yorkers during those days. The two day event of the Rites of Ancestral Return commemorative ceremony began with a Departure Ceremony at Howard University. They were then celebrated as contributors of African Americans as their ancestral remains from the African Burial Ground were returned from Washington, DC, to New York City.

Dr. Kofi Asare Opoku, a religious scholar from Ghana, poured a libation of water from a small gold bowl onto the ground and prayed in his native tongue. The remains were given a permanent resting-place at the African Burial Ground Memorial Site.

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