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African Free School opened in New York.

On this date, Francis James Grimke was born. He was a black minister and author.

From Cane acres, a rice plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, he was the son of a wealthy white man and Nancy Weston a black slave. After his father died and property rights on them were exercised by his half brother Montague, Grimke ran away from home and joined the Confederate Army as an officer’s valet. He served there until Emancipation. After the Civil War his aunts Angela and Sarah Moore Grimke acknowledged their kinship and helped in his education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Grimke graduated at the head of his class in 1870 and began to study law, attending Howard University in 1874. At this time he felt called to the ministry, re-enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary where he graduated in 1878. He began his ministry at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and married Charlotte L. Forten of Philadelphia. Though he had a short working rapport at a church in Jacksonville, Florida, Grimke remained at 15th Street until 1928.

From his pulpit with one of the most accomplished African-American congregations in America he preached and encouraged a national audience to agitate for civil rights “until justice is done.” Grimke campaigned against racism in American churches and requested help from the Afro-Presbyterian Council to encourage black moral uplift and self-help. He was also responsible for the creation of the American Negro Academy. Grimke supported Booker T. Washington’s self-help effort, but he also joined the “radicals” of the times like W.E.B. Du Bois.

He sided with Du Bois at the Carnegie Hall Conference in 1906, which led to the Niagara Movement and the NAACP. In 1923, he created a storm of controversy by his Howard University School of Religion convocation address, “What Is the Trouble with Christianity Today?” Here he denounced groups like the YMCA and the “federation of white churches” for the racist policies while challenging the sincerity of the faith of many political leaders. A true spiritual leader with conviction for his people, Francis Grimke lived in Washington, D.C. until his death in 1937.

The first exclusively Black parish in the United States was Saint Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore, Maryland. It was purchased on this day and dedicated months later.

South Carolina Republicans carry the election with a reduced victory margin. The Republican ticket is composed of four whites and four Blacks, R.H. Gleaves, Lieutenant Governor; Francis L. Cardozo, Treasurer; Henry E. Hayne, Secretary of State; H.W. Purvis, Adjutant General.

Macon B. Allen, the first Black licensed to practice law in the United States, died in Washington, DC on this date.

J.W. Butts, inventor, receives a patent for a luggage carrier.

Issac R. Johnson patents his bicycle frame. Patent #643,823.

Frederick Patterson was born on this date. He was an African-American doctor and education administrator.

From Washington, D.C., his family moved to Texas at an early age.
Frederick Douglass Patterson received both a doctorate in veterinary medicine (1923) and a Master of Science (1927) from Iowa State College; he also attended Cornell University (Ph.D.; 1932). He taught at Virginia State College in Petersburg before joining Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (1928), where he headed the veterinary division, served as director of the School of Agriculture, and then became the institute’s third president.

He was president of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later Tuskegee Institute; now Tuskegee University) from 1935-53. During this time, he organized a meeting of the heads of Black colleges to conduct annual campaigns for funds needed to help meet the operating expenses of 27 Black colleges and universities and, on April 25, 1944, he founded the
United Negro College Fund (UNCF), now based in Fairfax, VA, serving as its first president. The United Negro College Fund, a fund-raising organization for historically black private colleges, administered programs and granted scholarships. By the year of Patterson’s death it was providing funds for 42 member colleges, aiding some 45,000 students. In the mid-1970s Patterson devised the College Endowment Funding Plan, a program that depended on funds from private businesses that were matched with federal moneys.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1987. Frederick Patterson educator and prominent Black leader died on April 26, 1988 in New Rochelle, NY.

Willie Wells was born on this date. He was an African-American Negro league baseball player.

From Austin, he was a talented shortstop who was discovered on the Texas sandlots in 1925 and joined the St. Louis Stars of the first Negro National League. Wells established an outstanding reputation with a lifetime batting average of.358. In the Negro Leagues he played for the Stars, the Chicago American Giants, the Newark Eagles, and had a reputation as a fierce competitor. At a time when batting helmets were very unusual with the Newark Eagles, he suffered a concussion, but he put on a construction helmet for added protection.

He was a clutch hitter and an extraordinary fielder called the “Shakespeare of Shortstops.” His glove was known for a hole in its middle, which Wells claimed, made his fielding easier. In 1929 Wells went to Cuba and played in the integrated Cuban league, where he competed and stood out against Cuban players and white major leaguers. In 1929 he was the most valuable player in the Cuban league. Wells was selected eight times for the East-West Classic, the Negro Leagues’ all-star game, including the first game in 1933 and the 1945 game, in which he played second base for the East and Jackie Robinson, then of the Kansas City Monarchs, played shortstop for the West. When Robinson joined the major leagues, Wells worked with him on his second base position.

Wells was a player-manager for the Chicago American Giants in the early 1930s and became renowned as the player-manager of the Newark Eagles in the 1940s, at which time they were one of the very best black teams. He took particular pride in the success of Newark players Monte Irvin, Larry Doby, and Don Newcombe in the major leagues. In the 1940s Wells played in the Mexican league, where he again excelled and demonstrated that he was an outstanding player against the white major leaguers, who also played in the Mexican league. In 1941-42 he played in Puerto Rico and was well known for his play in the California winter league, where a team of stars from the Negro Leagues competed.

He also played frequently on the Satchel Paige All-Star team, a group selected by Paige to barnstorm against white major league players after the World Series. After baseball he worked in New York for a number of years before returning to Austin. He had two children, one of whom, Willie Wells, Jr., also played briefly in the Negro Leagues, including one year with his father. Willie (Devil) Wells was once called the greatest living player not in the baseball Hall of Fame. Wells died of heart failure in Austin on January 22, 1989, his obituary was carried in the New York Times.

In 1997, the hall’s Committee on Baseball Veterans inducted him into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Harry Edison was born on this date. He was an African-American musician.

From Columbus, Ohio,
Harry “Sweets” Edison was a trumpeter who was inspired by Louis Armstrong. He gained valuable early experience with a number of territory bands, including the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra. After a short spell with Lucky Millinder, Edison joined the Count Basie band in 1938, where he remained until Basie folded his big band in 1950. Edison then began a long career as leader of small groups, a solo artist, and studio musician; he also worked occasionally with band leaders such as Buddy Rich.

He toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic and in the 50s his work came to the attention of millions who never knew his name when he performed with the Nelson Riddle orchestra behind the vocals of Frank Sinatra. In the 60s he worked occasionally with Basie again but was mostly heard as a soloist, touring extensively on the international club and festival circuit. He also recorded with the saxophonists Jimmy Forrest and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. In performance Edison often favored playing with a Harmon mute and, while he had many imitators, few matched his laconic wit and inventiveness.

His trademark of repeated single notes is something no other trumpeter has been able to use to such good effect. On his numerous recording dates he was teamed with most of the big names in jazz and continually defied his advancing years. In November 1989, he appeared as featured soloist with the Frank Wess-Harry Edison Orchestra at the Fujitsu-Concord Jazz Festival in Japan. Harry Edison died on July 27, 1999 in Columbus, Ohio.

On this date, Ivory Joe Hunter was born. He was an African-American singer, songwriter, and a piano player.

Born in Kirbyville, Texas, Hunters’ mother was a gospel singer and his father, Dave Hunter, played guitar. A young Hunter took an early interest in music and in 1933 made his first recording for the Library of Congress. Hunter had his own radio show on KFDM in Beaumont, Texas in the early 40’s and eventually became program manager. His first commercial recording was with Johnny Moore’ Three Blazers. He started his own label, Ivory, and recorded his first song there which he had written Blues At Sunrise; it became a regional hit.

In 1942 Hunter moved to the West Coast, where he started Pacific Records. In 1947 he recorded for 4 Star and signed with the King label. Two years later he began to have some hits on the R&B charts, such as I Quit My Pretty Mama and Guess Who; on both of these he was backed by some members of Duke Ellington’s band. Hunter then signed with MGM and recorded I Almost Lost My Mind, which topped the R&B charts in 1950. His I Need You So reached number 2 R&B the same year, and Ivory Joe Hunter had become a hot commodity. He had a smooth delivery and he began to be noticed in the country and & western music community.

By 1954 he had recorded more than a hundred songs and moved to the Atlantic label. His first song to cross over to the pop charts was Since I Met You Baby (1956). It was to be his only top forty pop song, reaching as high as number 12, others that reached the pop charts were Empty Arms and Yes, I Want You. He had a minor hit with City Lights in 1959 just before his popularity began to decline. The Fifties was an era when white artists would frequently make covers of good R&B records; Pat Boone covered Joe’s smash R&B hit from 1950, I Almost Lost My Mind, and had a number one hit of his own with it in 1956. Hunter came back as a country singer in the late 60’s and made regular appearances at the Grand Old Opry.

Sonny James issued a cover of Joe’s Since I Met You Baby, and it topped the country charts in 1970. This paved the way for the issue of the album The Return Of Ivory Joe Hunter and Hunter’s appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. He was a prolific songwriter. Some estimates say that he has written more than 7,000 songs. Among them are two that Elvis Presley put in the top twenty: My Wish Came True and Ain’t That Loving You Baby.

Ivory Joe Hunter developed lung cancer and died in Memphis in 1974.

Thelonious Sphere Monk was born on this date. He was an innovative and improvisational African-American jazz pianist and musical genius.

Monk was from Rocky Mount, North Carolina and moved to New York when he was 5. In his preteen years he took piano lessons and later played house parties and church revivals. Teddy Wilson and stride piano players influenced him. In the early ‘40s he frequently gigged in New York, scoring his most important gig with Coleman Hawkins. He later played with Dizzy Gillespie and formed his own band in 1947, using the talents of such players as Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins and Milt Jackson. Other band members over the years included saxophonists John Coltrane and Charlie Rouse.

While Monk made his recording debut with Blue Note in 1947, it was during his long association with the Riverside label and co-owner Orrin Keepnews, that he made his mark on the jazz world. In the ‘60s, he recorded widely with Columbia. Each of Monk’s albums proved to be an adventure in listening. Though he reinterpreted many of his best known and favorite pieces including “’Round Midnight,” “Straight, No Chaser,” “Ruby, My Dear” and “Epistrophy”, on his later recordings, each visit was so charged with imaginative impulses that his music teemed with surprises, never sinking to the level of bland predictability.

During his early days as a band leader, he was ordained the High Priest of Bebop. Monk’s radical playing was more driven by stride, blues and swing influences than by bop. While he gained recognition from his musical peers and eventually the record-buying public, Monk was often misunderstood and unfairly castigated as a neurotic for his idiosyncratic behavior and newfangled tunes.

In his final years, Monk was nearly invisible. His last recording was the 1971 Black Lion sessions and one of his last appearances took place at the 1974 Newport Jazz Festival. Monk is considered one of the fathers of jazz improvisation and, in 1961, was featured on the cover of Time magazine, only one of three jazz musicians so honored at that time. Although when he died in 1982 he was almost forgotten, his music in subsequent years became extremely popular as young jazz upstarts began to comprehend the wit, poetry, and genius in his compositions.

On this date, Yusef Lateef was born. He is an African-American musician specializing as a flutist, oboist, and tenor saxophonist.

Born William Evans in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Lateef was raised in Detroit, where he played in a mixture of bands as a bop-oriented improviser with a rich tenor sound. His big break came when he joined Dizzy Gillespie’s big band in 1948. He was exploring Afro-Asian musical styles as early as the 1950s, with recordings such as Prayer To The East, and Eastern Sounds and Other Sounds. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Lateef worked with Cannonball Adderley, Charles Mingus and Babatunde Olatunji.

His most famous recordings were on the Impulse! and Atlantic labels, where he released Jazz ‘Round The World, The Gentle Giant and Hush ‘N’ Thunder which, held some of his best in mainstream and Negro spiritual-derived compositions. Lateef has worked with percussionist Adam Rudolph, saxophonists Ricky Ford, Rene McLean, and guitarist Earl Klugh. He also teaches at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Currently, he concentrates more on the flute, performing and recording African percussion and pastoral works like Yusef Lateef’s Little Symphony and Cantata, released on his own YAL label in 1994. Yusef Lateef is a musician who for more than 50 years has used jazz artistic power from the Mississippi Delta to the Middle East.

Elijah “The Real” McCoy, inventor and holder of nearly 60 patents, died on this date.

On this date, George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess opened on Broadway. This was the first American folk opera about the lives of Black Americans. The stories setting was in Charleston S.C.

It took place at The Alvin Theatre which opened in 1927 and named for Alex Aarons and Vinton Freedley who produced a string of hits such as Lady Be Good, Tip Toes and Oh Kay with other scores by George and Ira Gershwin. The Schubert Organization purchased the Alvin Theatre, and in 1983 named it the Neil Simon Theatre

That evening, Porgy and Bess was cast with Anne Wiggins Brown and Todd Duncan in starring roles.

Ben Vereen is born in Miami, Florida. He will become a dancer and multi-faceted entertainer.


Gus Williams is born. He will become a professional basketball player and NBA guard with the Golden State Warriors, Seattle Supersonics, and Washington Bullets.

President Eisenhower apologizes to the finance minister of Ghana, Komla Agbeli Gbdemah, after he is refused service in a Dover, Delaware restaurant.

Otis M. Smith is appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court and becomes the first African American on the high court.

The Black Panther Party was founded on this date in Oakland, Ca. by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.

Congressman Ralph H. Metcalfe, Congressman and Olympic track star, died on this date in Chicago at the age of 68. He won two individual Olympic Silver Medals and one team Gold Medal. He also won the “Legion of Ment” after serving as Army First Lieutenant in World War II.

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson announced his candidacy for the Office of President of the United States on this date. This marked the second time Jackson would announce plans to run for the highest office in the land.

South African President F.W. de Klerk announces that eight prominent political prisoners, including African National Congress official Walter Sisulu, would be unconditionally freed, but that Nelson Mandela would remain imprisoned.

On this date, a monument dedicated to three lynched Black men was unveiled in Duluth, MN.

On a June night in 1920,
Elmer Jackson, Elias Clayton, and Issac McGhie were hanged in Duluth while a white mob of 10,000 looked on. The memorial dedication drew thousands of people from all over the area.

During the unveiling there was an emotional speech by Warren Read an elementary teacher from Kingston, Washington. While researching his family history he had learned that his great-grandfather helped lead the mob that broke into the Duluth jail, took the three Black circus workers from their cells to their death. His voice choking with emotion, he apologized to the victims and their families.

The monument also underscores an American journey that began in the 1990’s, when researchers and museums started looking at the racial terror that ended reconstruction and lasted until the 1930’s.

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