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1862
The First Baptist Church of Georgetown was founded on this date. It is one of the oldest black Baptist churches in the Washington, D.C. area.

Started by the Reverend Sandy Alexander, a former slave before its formal organization, Collins Williams and his wife Betsey, had led religious meetings in Georgetown in private residences on 27th and P Streets, 27th and N Streets, and then at his own home. He then donated a small piece of land at 29th and O Streets to be used for a church. In 1856, Rev. Alexander came to Georgetown to start a Baptist Church, building up a large congregation with arrivals of folk from the Shiloh Church of Fredericksburg, Virginia. This congregation erected a small frame structure known as the “Ark” on the land.

The building was soon too small and a committee of Brothers, Henry Lucas, William Wormley, and William T. Brown selected the present site at 27th and Dumbarton Streets for the new building. The cornerstone for the Church was laid in 1882. The male members of the Church dug foundations at night while the women cooked hot suppers. When the trustees went to make their first payment on the note, the receipt was made out to the First African Baptist Church. Trustee William T. Brown, refused to accept this receipt insisting that he represented the First Baptist Church.

The receipt was torn up and another one, correctly worded, was written. Brother Brown had objected to the congregation being robbed of the honor of being the first church of the Baptist denomination in Georgetown. Alexander served as pastor for 37 years. Two of the largest church clubs existed during Rev. Alexander’s pastorate and consisted of nearly the entire membership, namely the Sisters and Brothers and Friends of Benevolence and the Union Moonlight Club. In 1902, Rev. Alexander died and his assistant Rev. James Hill became pastor. In December 1986, First Baptist was recognized in the Washington Post Magazine as one of the oldest and most prominent Black Churches in the Washington, D.C. area. The church sanctuary and lower auditorium were remodeled, which included the kitchen and bathrooms being modernized and central air conditioning installed.

Rev. Abrams retired in 1988 and was named Pastor Emeritus. Rev. James E. Terrell served as interim pastor until September 1990 when the Church called Rev. C.J. Malloy, Jr. as its 10th pastor. Since the pastorate of Rev. Malloy began, the Church has purchased the attached building, naming it the Abrams Annex. Some other additions during this time have been the establishment of an Investment Committee, a Handbell Choir and Dance Ministry, a Church Newsletter, and participation in the SHARE Food Bank program. After serving the church for eleven years, Rev. Malloy retired on December 31, 2001.



1864
The National Black Convention meets in Syracuse, New York.


1867
Monroe Baker, a well-to-do African American businessman, is named mayor of St. Martin, Louisiana. He is probably the first African American to serve as mayor of a town.


1869
First Reconstruction legislature (27 Blacks, 150 whites) met in Richmond, Virginia.


1871
On this date, we recall the birth of Oscar Stanton De Priest. He was the first African-American to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the twentieth century.

From Florence, Alabama, De Priest and his family moved to Kansas when he was six years old. His formal education included business and bookkeeping classes before he ran away to Dayton, Ohio with two white friends. He ended up in Chicago by 1889 as a painter and decorator. There he acquired a fortune in real estate and the stock market. In 1904, De Priest entered politics, and was elected as the Cook County Commissioner. Four years later he was appointed an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention and became Chicago’s first black alderman in 1915.

In 1928, he became the first black from outside the south to be elected to Congress; here De Priest became the unofficial spokesman to the then 11 million African-Americans during the 1920’s and 1930’s. He proposed that states who discriminated against blacks be given fewer congressional seats and that a monthly pension be given to ex-slaves over the age of seventy-five. However during the depression, his stance against federal relief programs dismayed many of his supporters. In 1934, Arthur W. Mitchell defeated him.

De Priest remained active in public life, serving from 1943 to 1947 as alderman of the third ward in Chicago, then returning to his real estate business. He died on May 12, 1951.



1872
Booker T. Washington leaves Malden, West Virginia to enter Hampton Institute.


1878
George B. Vashion joins the ancestors after succumbing to yellow fever in Rodney, Mississippi. He was the first African American to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin College, the first lawyer in the state of New York, and an educator and poet whose most famous work was “Victor Oge” (1854), the first narrative, nonlyrical poem by an African American writer.


1881
Tim Brymn was born on this date. He was an African-American musical conductor, arranger and composer.

James “Tim” Brymn was from Kinston, North Carolina and educated at the Christian Institute and Shaw University. He also attended the National Conservatory of Music. Brymn came to New York around the turn of the 20th century and soon began composing. In 1905 he wrote five songs that were probably used in what came to be known as the Smart Set shows. They included Morning Noon and Night, O-San, Powhatana, Travel On, and Darktown Grenadiers.

Brymn worked with Sissle & Blake and later served as a musical director for the Clef Club and also led orchestras at Ziegfeld’s Roof Garden and Reisenweber’s Jardin de Dance. During WWI, Brymn’s 70 piece orchestra, The Black Devils, were very popular. They were the musical unit for the Army’s 350th Artillery, AEF, and Willie “The Lion” Smith also served in the same unit. Brymn’s band was described at the time as “a military symphony engaged in a battle of jazz.”

He joined ASCAP in 1933. Tim Brymn died in New York City on October 3, 1946.



1917
On this day, the Secretary of War announced the appointment of Emmett J. Scott as confidential advisor to the War Department. His assignment was to represent the interests of Blacks in relation to their role in World War I. Scott had been associate editor of the Texas Freeman, a newspaper in Houston and secretary to Booker T. Washington.


1928
On this date, James Forman was born. He was a civil rights activist who is credited with giving the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) its firm organizational base.

Born in Chicago, Forman spent his early years living with his grandmother on a farm in Marshall County, Mississippi. When he was six, his parents took him to Chicago, where he attended a Roman Catholic grammar school before transferring to a public school in fifth grade. Until he was a teenager, Forman used the surname of his stepfather, John Rufus, a gas station manager, rather than that of his real father, Jackson Forman, a Chicago cab driver. Forman graduated from Englewood High School in 1947 with honors and then served in the Air Force before entering the University of Southern California in 1952. After being beaten and arrested by police at the beginning of his second college semester, Forman transferred to Roosevelt University in Chicago, where he became a leader in student politics and chairman of the university’s delegation to the National Student Association conference in 1956.

He graduated in 1957 and attended Boston University as a graduate student. While reporting for the Chicago Defender in 1960, James Forman learned of black farmers in Tennessee who had been evicted by their white landlords for registering to vote. In support, Forman joined a program sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) that provided relief services to the displaced farmers. Later that year, he participated in “Freedom Rides,” in which blacks rode in buses throughout the South testing court-ordered integration of public transportation. Forman then joined SNCC and began working for black civil rights full time. Having served in the Air Force during the Korean War, Forman possessed more maturity and experience than most of the young members of SNCC. His organizational skills thrust him into a leadership role at the organizationally weak SNCC, where he directed fund raising and supervised staff.

In 1964 he became SNCC’s executive secretary, a post he held until 1966. In addition, Forman participated in many of SNCC’s direct-action protests and helped organize voter registration drives in Alabama and Mississippi. Soon after the “Freedom Summer” of 1964, however, arguments over SNCC’s direction, strategies, and tactics consumed the organization’s leaders. Amid this debate in 1968, Forman left SNCC to seek economic development opportunities for black communities. Forman published his memoir of the Civil Rights Movement, The Making of Black Revolutionaries: A Personal Account in 1972; a new edition was published in 1997. He earned a masters in African and African-American Studies at Cornell University in 1980 and a Ph.D. from the Union of Experimental Colleges and Universities (in cooperation with the Institute for Policy Studies) in Washington, D.C. in 1982.

He put together his studies in his 1984 book, Self-Determination: An Examination of the Question and Its Application to the African-American People. Forman has been active in the fight to gain statehood for the District of Columbia. James Forman died on January 10, 2005.



1929
Autherine Juanita Lucy (later Foster) is born in Shiloh, Alabama. She will be the first African American student to enroll at the University of Alabama (1956).


1932
Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was born in Los Angeles, California, where she grew up in the public schools system in her Hometown. In 1953 she received her B.A., University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1956 Burke received her J.D., University of Southern California School after which she began private practice. She had many firsts. As Yvonne Braithwaite, she served as staff attorney on the McCone Commission investigating the causes of the Watts riots and became the first African American woman elected to the California state assembly (1973-1972), as well as the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives, serving from 1973 to 1979 in the Ninety-thirds and the two succeeding Congresses. During this tenure, she was also the first woman to chair the Congressional Black Caucus. She did not run for reelection in 1978, yet was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for State Attorney General of California. Also, during the Democratic Convention in 1972, she impressively served as vice president and presiding officer. As a result of an appointment by Governor Jerry Brown in 1979, she was the first woman to sit on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In 1992, she became the first woman elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Burke is married to William A. Burke, a Los Angeles businessman, and has a daughter, Autumn, and a step-daughter, Christine Burke. Attorney Burke is currently engaging in private practice.


1934
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.


1935
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.


1937
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.


1942
Marian Anderson, famous contralto singer, accepted the invitation of the Daughters of the American Revolution to sing at the organization's Constitution Hall in an unsegregated war benefit on this day. In 1939, Anderson was not permitted to perform at the hall because of her race. October 7, 1889.


1944
Dancer Pearl Primus makes her Broadway debut at the Belasco Theater. She will become widely known for blending the African and American dance traditions.


1945
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.


1958
Neil deGrasse Tyson was born on the day in New York City. He is an astrophysicist and, since 1996, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Since 2006, he has hosted PBS’s educational TV show NOVA scienceNOW.

Youth and education
Tyson attended the Bronx High School of Science (1973-1976) where he captained the wrestling team and was editor-in-chief of the school’s Physical Science Journal. He had an abiding interest in astronomy from a young age – and obsessively studied it in his teens – eventually even gaining some fame in the astronomy community by giving lectures on the subject at the age of 15. Tyson has stated that his interest in astronomy began when he would climb to the top floor of his New York City apartment building (ironically named the “Skyview Apartments”) and look at the moon through binoculars. Astronomer Carl Sagan, who was a faculty member at Cornell University, tried to recruit Tyson at Cornell for undergraduate studies, but Tyson chose to attend Harvard, where he majored in physics. He was a member of the crew team in his freshman year, but returned to wrestling, eventually lettering in his senior year. Tyson earned his B.A. in physics from Harvard in 1980 and began his graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his M.A. in Astronomy in 1983. In addition to wrestling and rowing in college, he was also active in dancing in styles including jazz, ballet, Afro-Caribbean, and Latin Ballroom. In 1985, he won a gold medal with the University of Texas dance team at a national tournament in the International Latin Ballroom style. He began a doctoral program at the University of Texas, but transferred in 1988 to Columbia, earning a Ph.D. degree in astrophysics from that institution in 1991.

Profession career
Tyson has written a number of popular books on astronomy. In 1995, he began to write the “Universe” column for Natural History magazine.  In a column for the magazine, the authored in 2002, Tyson coined the term “Manhattanhenge” to describe the two days annually on which the evening sun aligns with the cross streets of the grid in Manhattan, making sunset visible along unobsructed side streets. In 2004, he hosted the four-part “Origins” miniseries of PBS’s “Nova”, and co-authored, with Donald Goldsmith (renowned California astronomer and science writer/professor) the companion volume for the series, “Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution”.

In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Tyson to serve on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and in 2004 to serve on the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, the latter better known as the “Moon, Mars and Beyond” Commission. He was soon afterwards awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by NASA.

As director of the Hayden Planetarium, Tyson bucked tradition thinking to keep Pluto from being referred to as the ninth planet in exhibits at the center. He has stated on “The Colbert Report” that this decision has resulted in large amounts of hate mail, much of it from children. In 2006, the I.A.U. confirmed this assessment by downgrading Pluto to “dwarf planet” classification.

Tyson is President of the Planetary Society, where he was formerly the Chair of the Board. He is the new host of the PBS program “NOVA scienceNOW”.

Tyson is a vocal critic of string theory; his opposition comes from the seeming over-reliance of string theory upon mathematical projections instead of testable variables.

He attended and was a speaker at the Beyond Belief symposium on November 2006.


1966
Lesotho (Basutoland) gains its independence from Great Britain.


1976
Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz resigns in the wake of a controversy over a joke he had made about Blacks.


1985
Grambling’s coach Eddie Robinson wins his record 324th college football game.


1991
The Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Illinois is dedicated in the memory of its beloved former mayor.


1992
Eddie Kendrick, one of the original members of the Motown group, The Temptations, joins the ancestors after succumbing to lung cancer.


1994
Exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide vows in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, to return to Haiti in 11 days.


1994
President Clinton welcomes South African President Nelson Mandela to the White House.


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