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Jackson College in Jackson, Mississippi is established.

The U.S. Supreme Court declares that The Civil Rights Act of 1875 is unconstitutional. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 stated that “All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude.”

On this date, Morris Brown College was founded. It is one of over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America.

Morris Brown College began with 107 students and nine teachers in a crude wooden structure at the corner of Boulevard and Houston Streets in Atlanta, Georgia. That day marked the formal opening of the first educational institution in Georgia under sole African-American patronage. Morris Brown College was named to honor the memory of the second consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

The circumstances that evoked the founding of Morris Brown are traditionally linked to a visit by a group of Clark College trustees to Big Bethel Church to interest the AME supporters in furnishing a room in their institution. In response to the proposition they presented, layman Steward Wiley said, “If we can furnish a room at Clark College, why can’t we build a school of our own?” These words ignited a flame in the mind of the Reverend Wesley John Gaines. On January 5, 1881, during the North Georgia Annual Conference at Big Bethel, he introduced a resolution calling for the establishment in Atlanta of an institution for the moral, spiritual, and intellectual growth of Negro boys and girls. The steps between the resolution and the opening were few and simple: The Georgia Conference was persuaded to join in the endeavor.

An assembly of trustees from both conferences convened in Big Bethel Church and selected the Boulevard site as the school’s home. In May of 1885, the State of Georgia granted a charter to Morris Brown College of the AME Church. The fact of its founding as a child of the church not only determined the institution’s philosophical thrust, but also created a system of support which functioned to channel its early energies toward developing programs to serve the needs of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The College, at that time, was largely dependent upon a denomination whose constituency was primarily unskilled, untrained, and economically unstable. In order to survive, the College had to absorb into its enrollment a large segment of underachieving students whose parents were loyal supporters of the Church that kept its doors open. What began as survival strategy of Morris Brown in 1881 became the liberation cry for Black masses and the country at large in the 1960s.

At that point of higher education, that cry was heard in all colleges’ Black and White, large and small, state and private in the form of pressures to develop programs in tune with the needs of economically disadvantaged youth. For Morris Brown, however, it was a matter of doing what came naturally, better and more effectively. If there is uniqueness about Morris Brown, it is perhaps a kind of institutional flexibility, based on the assumption that a college can serve the needs of all students with the desire and the potential to earn a college degree.

Morris Brown College now stands as a thriving institution, fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, with majors offered in more than 30 areas of study, including Business Sciences, Computer Science, Chemistry, Biology and Hospitality Administration. The Colleges’ current President is Dolores E. Cross, Ph.D.

Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia is established.

The Alabama Penny Savings Bank is founded in Birmingham, Alabama by Reverend William Reuben Pettiford with $2,000 in capital. Although, so strapped for funds in its initial months that its officers will not draw salaries, the bank will prosper so well that during the panic of 1893, it will remain open when larger, white banks in Birmingham fail.

On this date, we celebrate the birth of Crystal Bird Fauset. She was the first African-American woman to be elected to a state house of representatives.

Fauset was born in Princes Anne, Maryland to Benjamin and Portia Bird, but was raised in Boston by her aunt (Lucy Groves). She attended public schools and graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1931. As a social worker for the YWCA in New York and Philadelphia, Fauset was named executive secretary of the Institute of Race Relations at Swarthmore College in 1933.

Five years later the Democratic Party in Philadelphia asked Fauset to run for a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from their district, a position she won. By 1944 she became disappointed with her party’s handling of black Americans in the war and announced her support for Thomas E. Dewey and the Republican Party. She held a number of other important positions during her career.

She served as chair of the Philadelphia Negro Woman’s Democratic League, was on the board of trustees of Cheyney State Teachers College, and was on the board of directors of the Small Business Opportunities Corporation of Philadelphia. Crystal Bird Fauset died March 27th 1965.

Decatur Nichols was born on this date in 1900. He was an African-American minister, deacon and bishop.

He was from Georgetown, SC, the son of Reverend Ruffin and Anna Nichols. Decatur Ward Nichols was educated in the public schools of Charleston. He received his AB degree from Howard University, Washington, DC and BD degree from Drew University, Madison, NJ. Nichols was ordained a deacon in 1926 and an elder one year later. He served a number of churches throughout his life. In 14 years in New Jersey, Nichols developed a membership of 2400, purchased a new building and organized the church into effective departments.

Elected in 1940 at the General Conference in Detroit, MI, Nichols has served the 9th, 1st, 11th, 12th, and 7th Episcopal districts. In the 9th District, Bishop Nichols paid off mortgages, built an Episcopal residence and five other buildings, renovated property and worked successfully rebuilding Daniel Payne College in Birmingham, Alabama. He also represented the AME church at the organization of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam, Holland. Ward served for many years on the Executive Committee of the World Methodist Organization as well.

Bishop Nichols the 59th bishop of the AME Church was also the senior bishop of all Methodism. He retired in 1976 at the General Conference in Atlanta, GA. Decatur Ward Nichols died on January 24, 2005. He was 104 years of age.

On this date, Victoria Spivey was born. She was an African-American blues singer.

From Houston, Texas, Spivey began her recording career at age 19 and came from the same rough-and-tumble clubs in Houston and Dallas that produced Sippie Wallace. In 1918, she left home to work as a pianist at the Lincoln Theater in Dallas. In the early 1920s, she played in gambling parlors, gay hangouts, and whorehouses in Galveston and Houston with Blind Lemon Jefferson. Among Spivey’s many influences was Ida Cox, herself a sassy blues woman, and taking her cue from Cox, Spivey wrote and recorded tunes like TB Blues, Dope Head Blues and Organ Grinder Blues in the 1920s.

Spivey’s other influences included Robert Calvin, Sara Martin and Bessie Smith. Like so many other women blues singers who had their heyday in the 1920s and ‘30s, Spivey was not afraid to sing sexually suggestive lyrics, and this turned out to be a blessing nearly 40 years later in the sexual revolution of the 1960s and early ‘70s. She recorded her first song, Black Snake Blues, for the Okeh label and then worked as a songwriter at a music publishing company in St. Louis. In the 1930s, Spivey recorded for the Victor, Vocalion, Decca and Okeh labels, and moved to New York City, working as a featured performer in a number of African-American musical revues, including the Hellzapoppin’ Revue.

Also during this time, she recorded and was on the road with Louis Armstrong’s various bands. By the 1950s, Spivey had left show business and sang only in church. But in forming her own Spivey Records label in 1962, she found new life in her old career. As the folk revival began to take hold in the early 1960s, Spivey found herself an in-demand performer on the folk-blues festival circuit. She also performed frequently in nightclubs around New York City. Unlike others from her generation, Spivey continued her recording career until well into the 1970s, performing at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival in 1973 with Roosevelt Sykes. Spivey was one of the more influential blues women simply because she was around long enough to influence legions of younger women and men who rediscovered blues music. Spivey could do it all: she wrote songs, sang them well, and accompanied herself on piano, organ, and occasionally ukulele.

In 1970, Spivey was awarded a “BMI Commendation of Excellence” from the music publishing organization for her long and outstanding contributions to many worlds of music. In 1976, after entering a Hospital with an internal hemorrhage, she died a short while later. Spivey is buried in Hempstead, New York.

The first significant group of African American officers is commissioned by the U.S. Army.

On this date, the first black enlistees from West Point graduated from military duty at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

The twentieth century was the beginning time line for black advancement beyond simply enlistment in America’s armed forces. Although three black officers had previously graduated West Point and served bravely on the plains, doubters of the first black officer candidate class, including President Woodrow Wilson, felt that blacks lacked the intelligence and courage to lead troops in combat. The First World War was the initial opportunity for Black soldiers as a group to become commissioned officers in the United States Army.

Of the 1,000 black college graduates and faculty, and 250 non-commissioned officers from the 9th and 10th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldiers,” and 24th and 25th Infantry, who comprised the 17th Provisional Training Regiment at Fort Des Moines, 639 graduated as captains or lieutenants (shown). After completing basic training at sites across the nation, including Camp Dodge, Iowa, they went on to lead the 92nd Division against Imperial Germany on the brutal battlefields of France in 1918.

Many of those African-Americans who survived combat returned to America to become leaders in the battle for racial equality and their sacrifices launched the integrated officer corps of today serving in all of America’s Armed Forces.

Brooklyn Dodger’s President Branch Rickey, announced, on this date, that Jackie Robinson would play for their farm club, the Montreal Royals.

William Hastie is nominated for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He will be the first African American to sit on the court.

Jimmy Carter (not the president), 29, of New York City, regained the world lightweight boxing title in a 15-round unanimous decision over champ Lauro Salsa, 24, in Chicago’s Stadium.

Toriano Adaryll Jackson is born in Gary, Indiana. He will become a singer and member of The Jackson Five known as Tito.

The Sickle Cell Disease Research Foundation opens in Los Angeles, California. It is the forerunner to a national association and over 50 local chapters dedicated to providing education, screening, counseling, and research in the genetic disease that affects over 50,000 individuals, mostly African Americans.

Bob Hayes wins a gold medal for the 100-meter dash in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo with a time of ten seconds, equaling the world record.

On this date, the Black Panther Party (BPP) was founded. It was a black political organization; originally known as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

The BPP originated in Oakland, California, by founders, Huey Newton, and Bobby Seale after drafting a “Ten Point Program.” Original six members of the Black panthers included Elbert “Big Man” Howard, Sherman forte, Reggie forte, little Bobby Hutton and Newton and Seale. They adopted the Black Panther symbol from an independent political party established the previous year by Black residents of Lowndes County, Alabama. The Panthers also supported the Black Power movement, which stressed racial dignity and self-reliance.

The Party established patrols in Black communities in order to monitor police activities and protect the residence from police brutality. The BPP combined elements of socialism and black nationalism, it promoted the development of strong black-controlled institutions, calling for blacks to work together to protect their rights and to improve their economic and social conditions. The Panthers also emphasized class unity, criticizing the Black middle class for acting against the interests of other, less fortunate Blacks.

They welcomed alliances with white activists, such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and later the Weathermen, because they believed that all revolutionaries that wanted to change U. S. society should unite across racial lines. The BPP grew throughout the late 1960s, and eventually had chapters all around the country. As racial tension increased around the country, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) blamed the Black Panthers for riots and other incidents of violence.

The bureau launched a program called COINTELPRO (short for counterintelligence program) designed to disrupt efforts to unify black militant groups such as SNCC and the Panthers. In December 1969 two Chicago leaders of the party, Fred Hampton, and Mark Clark, were killed in a police raid. By the end of the decade, according to the party’s attorney, 28 Panthers had been killed and many other members were either in jail or had been forced to leave the United States in order to avoid arrest. After Newton’s conviction was reversed, he called for developing survival programs in Black communities to build support for the BPP. These programs provided free breakfasts for children, established free medical clinics, helped the homeless find housing, and gave away free clothing and food.

This attempt to shift the direction of the party did not prevent further external attacks and internal conflicts, and the party continued to decline as a political force. After the departure of Newton and Seale, the party’s new leader, Elaine Brown, continued to emphasize community service programs. These programs were frequently organized and run by black women, who were a majority in the party by the mid-1970s. By the end of the 1970s, weakened by external attacks, legal problems, and internal divisions, the Panthers were no longer a political force.

Throughout their decline, several women sustained the organizations community programs until 1981, when the Oakland-based program closed. In 1997, The Black Panther Party Research Project (BPPRP) was created to locate sources and develop finding aids to assist researchers and the general public with uncovering information about the BPP, one of the twentieth century’s most controversial, yet least researched organizations.

Wyomia Tyus became the first person to win a gold medal in the 100-meter race in consecutive Olympic Games when she won the medal in the 1968 Summer Olympic in Mexico City. A product of Tennessee State University, she won three Olympic gold medals during her track career. Tyus won her first 100 title at Tokyo in 1964. She also won a silver medal there when she earned second-place ranking as a member of the 4 X 100-meter relay team in 1968. Tyus was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985. Tyus currently works for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke, President of Somalia, is assassinated.

The National Guard is mobilized to restore order in the Boston school busing crisis.

Edward Perkins was confirmed as the country’s first Black Ambassador to South Africa.

South African officials release eight prominent political prisoners, including Walter Sisulu, a leader of the African National Congress.

Judge Clarence Thomas is confirmed as the 106th associate justice of the United States Supreme Court by the Senate Judiciary Committee, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, with a Senate vote of 52-48. Thomas, a conservative Republican, becomes the second African American to sit on the Supreme Court.

Due to financial trouble, the name and several assets of the Oakland Tribune were sold to the Alameda Newspaper Group on this date. The paper, nearly 120 years old, was the nation’s only Black owned daily newspaper with major circulation.

African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela and South African President F.W. de Klerk are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to end apartheid and laying the foundations for a democratic South Africa.

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returns to his country, three years after being overthrown by army rulers. The U.N. Security Council welcomes Aristide’s return by voting to lift stifling trade sanctions imposed against Haiti.

On this date, The Louis Armstrong House opened to the public for the first time as a historic house museum. The residence was the long-time home of the internationally acclaimed black jazz musician Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. The house, a National Historic Landmark and a New York City landmark underwent a $1.6 million restoration and renovation.

The Million More Movement convenes on the National Mall in Washington, DC. In addition to celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March, there is a call for an end to the war in Iraq, and pointed criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

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