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On this date, we celebrate the birth of Anna Murray Douglass. She was a black abolitionist.

Murray Douglass was from near Denton in eastern Maryland, she was the first person in her family to be born free. At the age of seventeen, she came to Baltimore where she met and eventually married Frederick Douglass (then Frederick Bailey); they married after his escape from slavery in 1838. She was an activist in her own right, participating vigorously in the circle of Massachusetts’s reformers in the 1840’s. This group included Wendell Phillips, and William Lloyd Garrison.

Murray Douglass met weekly with anti-slavery women who mounted the annual Ant-Slavery Fair in Boston’s Faneuil Hall. In 1847, she and her family moved to Rochester, New York where she continued her abolitionist activities while raising a family often in the absence of her husband due to his travels abroad. To make family ends meet Murray-Douglass worked as a laundress and shoe binder. In the words of one of her daughters, the heroism of Frederick Douglass “was a story made possible by the unswerving loyalty of Anna Murray.”

In 1872, Anna Douglass, her husband, and family moved to Washington D. C. where she lived until her death in 1882.

William Howard Day was born on this date. He was a black editor and minister.

From New York City, he worked as a printer on the Northampton Gazette before moving to Cleveland where he became involved in the struggle against racial discrimination. In 1851, inspired by Frederick Douglass, Day became editor of the Cleveland True Democrat; Two years later he started editing the Aliened American. In 1858 he toured Europe where he made speeches and raised funds for the Anti-Slavery cause.

Day returned to the United States after the Civil War and worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau. He also became an inspector of schools in Maryland and Delaware before being ordained a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1867. Day worked as general secretary of the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1875 to 1880.

William Howard Day died in Harrisburg on December 3rd 1900.

Byrd Prillerman was born a slave in Shady Grove, Franklin County, VA. He became and educator, reformer, religious worker, political figure, and lawyer. He is best known as a co-founder of West Virginia Colored Institute in 1891. The school changed to the West Virginia Collegiate Institute in 1915. The school under Prillerman’s leadership became the first state school for African Americans to reach the rank of an accredited college whose work was accepted by the universities of the North. The school eventually became West Virginia State College, then West Virginia State University.

In elections on this date, Republicans swept South Carolina elections with a ticket of six whites and two Blacks: Alonzo Ransier, Lieutenant Governor; Francis L. Cardozo, Secretary Of State. The First Blacks were elected to the House of Representatives. Black Republicans won three of the four congressional seats in South Carolina: Joseph H. Rainey, Robert C. Delarge and Robert B. Elliott. Rainey was elected to an unexpired term in the Forty-first Congress and was the first Black seated in the House became the first Black member of the U.S. Congress.

In 1862 when Rainey was forced to work on fortifications for the Confederate Army in Charleston, DC, he escaped to the West Indies and remained there until the close of the Civil War. He was a delegate to the South Carolina State Constitutional Convention in 1868 and a member of the State Senate in 1870, but resigned to run for a vacant seat in the House of Representatives. He was elected as a Republican to the Forty-first Congress, becoming the first Black seated. Rainey was re-elected to the Forty-second and Forty-third Congresses, serving from 1870 to 1879. In that year, he was appointed internal revenue agent of South Carolina, resigning in 1881 to engage in banking and the mortgage brokerage business in Washington, DC.

Henry O. Tanner, painter, won Medal of Honor at the Paris Exposition.

Nannie Burroughs opened the National Training School for Women and Girls on this date. The 31 first-year students learned “Bible, Bath, and Broom” techniques to make them more proficient in domestic duties.

LaWanda Page was born on this date. She was an African-American comedic character actress.

Born in Cleveland as Alberta Peal and raised in St. Louis, Page began her career as a dancer and chorus girl billed as “the Bronze Goddess of Fire” and later became a stand-up comic. She starred in films such as “Mausoleum,” “Women Tell the Dirtiest Jokes,” “Shake the Clown,” and “Don’t Be a Menace.”  Her greatest fame began in her 50s when comedian Redd Foxx, a childhood friend, asked her to join his Norman Lear sitcom adapted from the British series “Steptoe and Son.” Page signed on as Fred Sanford’s crusty sister-in-law, Esther Anderson, in 1973 and stayed with “Sanford and Son” until the series ended in 1977.

She reprised the role in two short-lived spin-offs, “The Sanford Arms” in 1977 and Foxx’s own “Sanford” in 1980. She also made guest appearances on Foxx’s variety show, “The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour” the same year. More recently, Page made television commercials, including a well-received package for Atlanta-based Church’s Fried Chicken.

LaWanda Page, 81, a comedic character actress best known for her role as the Bible-thumping Aunt Esther in the 1970s TV hit “Sanford and Son,” died September 14, 2002 in Los Angeles of complications from diabetes.

Georgia Powers was born on this date. She was an African-American politician and lawyer.

The only girl in her family with eight brothers she was from Springfield, Kentucky. Powers once worked as a riveter on airplane fuselages in Buffalo, New York. Soon she moved to Louisville, Kentucky and got involved in politics through her church. From 1962 to 1967, Powers chaired for a number of candidates. Even before she began her career as a senator, Georgia Powers was a Civil Rights movement leader in Kentucky.

She was one of the essential organizers of a statewide rally in March of 1964 in support of a law to make public accommodations accessible to all, regardless of race. This rally brought civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson to our state capitol. The public accommodation bill did not pass at this time, resulting in a starve-in in the House gallery. She mentioned that she did not know her calling in life until she was 45 years old. After over thirty different jobs she knew that politics was where she wanted to be. Senator Georgia Davis Powers became the first African-American and the first woman to be elected to the Kentucky State Senate.

Senator Powers was also the first Black woman to serve on the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee. When Georgia Powers arrived in Frankfort in 1967 as a newly elected senator, she could not get a room in a hotel as an African- American woman. In 1968, Powers was present at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis the morning that Dr. King was assassinated. As senator, she chaired two legislative committees, Health and Welfare (1970-76) and Labor and Industry (1978-88). During her five four-year terms, she pushed for legislation on public accommodations, open housing, and other issues of concern to people of color, women, children, and the poor.

She addressed the dramatic 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, chaired Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and ‘88 Kentucky presidential campaigns. She fought for the Equal Rights Amendment resolution, the Displaced Homemaker’s Law, and a law to increase the minimum wage in Kentucky. In 1988, Georgia Montgomery Davis Powers retired from politics.

“From Dixie to Broadway” premieres at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City. The music is written by Will Vodery, an African American, who arranged music for the Ziegfeld Follies for 23 years.

Richard Arrington, the first Black mayor of Birmingham, AL, was born on this date.

Lloyd Haynes was born on this date. He was an African-American actor.

Born Samuel Lloyd Haynes in South Bend, Indiana, He served in the Marines in Korea and was a commander in the Navy. Haynes starred as history teacher “Pete Dixon” on TV’s Room 222, one of the most popular TV shows of the 1960s. The series chronicled the lives of the students and teachers at the fictional Walt Whitman High School.

He also played “Mayor Morgan” on General Hospital, and on Star Trek he played “Lieutenant Alden” in the episode: “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Samuel Lloyd died of lung cancer on January 1, 1987, at the age of only 52.

Johnnetta Cole was born this date. She is an African-American educator, administrator, humanitarian, and civil and women’s rights activist.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida,
Johnnetta Betsch came from a family that though not poor was dedicated to all Blacks in their community; this came from generations of philanthropic and village-based family values. During the mid 1930s and early 1940s, her family founded the Afro-American Life Insurance Company. They were also educators; the public library in her neighborhood was named after her grandfather.

At age 15, Betsch entered Fisk University, through the school’s early admissions program. She completed her undergraduate degree at Oberlin College and went on to earn a Master’s and Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University. Her first teaching position was at Washington State University, where she was named Outstanding Faculty member of the year. At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, she became Professor of Anthropology and Afro-American Studies. At the same school, she served for two years as Associate Provost of Undergraduate education. In 1984 she joined the faculty of Hunter College as Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program. She retained these positions while serving simultaneously on the graduate faculty of the City University of New York.

In 1987, Dr Cole became the first African American woman to serve as president of Spelman College. During this time Dr. Cole divorced her first husband, economist Robert Cole, and later married Arthur J. Robinson, Jr., who is a public health administrator, in 1988. She has three sons and two stepsons, and one granddaughter. In 2004 she became the first African American to serve as Chair of the Board of United Way of America.

Dr. Cole is President emerita of Spelman College and Professor emerita of Emory University from which she retired as Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women’s Studies and African American Studies. She is the author of numerous publications for scholarly and general audiences. Her most recent publication is a book co-authored with Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall: Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Anthropological Association.

Dr. Cole continues to work as a college professor and president, her publications, speeches and community service, consistently address issues of racial, gender and all other forms of discrimination. Dr. Cole serves on the board of the Carter Center, the National Visionary Leadership Project, and the United Way of Greater Greensboro. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Merck & Co., Inc., and the Atlanta Falcons. Dr. Cole also consults on diversity matters with Citigroup. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Links, Inc. and the National Council of Negro Women.

In addition to 50 honorary degrees, Dr. Cole has received numerous awards, including the TransAfrica Forum Global Public Service Award, the Dorothy I. Height Dreammaker Award, the Radcliffe Medal, the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the 2001 Alexis deTocqueville Award for Community Service from United Way of America, the Award for Education presented at the 90th Anniversary Celebrations of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and The Joseph Prize for Human Rights presented by the Anti-Defamation League.

She is a mentor to many young women and men. Also currently, Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole is the 14th president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The United States Supreme Court refused to review a Georgia court decision holding constitutional an Atlantic ordinance requiring that taxicabs carry a sign that they are for hire to White or Black passengers only and prohibiting them from the two signs in the same taxi.

On this date, Paul Robeson opened in Theater Guild presentation of Othello at the Shubert Theater in N.Y. City. The show ran for 296 consecutive performances and set record for Shakespearean drama on Broadway.

Peter Tosh, reggae pioneer, who helped reggae gain world-wide acceptance, was born Winston Hubert McIntosh in Westmoreland, Jamaica on this date. As a founding father of reggae music, he became a part of the song writing magic of the Wailers, Bob Marley’s group. He was shot and killed in a robbery attempt on September 11, 1987.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a plan submitted by the U.S. Navy for the acceptance of Black women in the Women’s Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). The plan called for the immediate commission of Black women as officers. Up to that time, black women were barred from the WAVES. Previously the efforts of Mildred McAfee and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune helped the Secretary of the Navy push through the admittance of African-American women. The first two black WAVES officers, Harriet Ida Pikens and Frances Wills, were sworn in December 22nd of that year. Of the 80,000 WAVES in the World War II, 72 Black women served, normally under integrated conditions.

The first exhibition of the work of Josef Nassy, an American citizen of Dutch-African descent, is held in Brussels. The exhibit consists of 90 paintings and drawings Nassy created while in a Nazi-controlled internment camp during World War II.

Jennifer-Yvette Holiday is born in Riverside, Texas. She will become a singer and actress and will have her first big break as a star in the Broadway production of “Dream Girls” in 1981. She will later become a successful recording artist. She will be best known for her debut single, the Dream Girls showstopper and Grammy Award-winning Rhythm & Blues/Pop hit, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in an Atlanta sit-in and ordered to serve four months in the Georgia State Prison for violating a probated traffic sentence. John F. Kennedy, Democratic presidential candidate, called Mrs. Martin Luther King Jr. and expressed his concern about the imprisonment of Dr. King.

Evander Holyfield is born in Atmore, Alabama. He will become a professional boxer. Over the course of his career, he will become IBF Heavyweight Champion, WBA Heavyweight Champion, three time World Champion, and Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and Archives opens in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded by Coretta Scott King, the facility is the largest repository in the world of primary resource material on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., nine major civil rights organizations, and the American civil rights movement.

Grenada’s U.S. educated Prime Minister Maurice Bishop is assassinated in a military coup. He had refused to share the leadership of the New Jewel Movement with his deputy Bernard Coard. Follow his assassination, the United State and six Caribbean nations invaded Grenada.

The U.S. Senate approves the establishment of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday on the third Monday in January.

South African anti-apartheid leader, Walter Sisulu wins a $100,000 Human Rights prize.

The Illinois Supreme Court upheld a decision to disallow the Harold Washington Party in the November election on this date.

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