William Washington Browne was born on
this date. He was a Black slave, minister, educator, and businessman.
From Habersham County, Georgia he lived there until he was
8 years old. As a slave he was sold into Tennessee,
where he ran away during the Civil War becoming a Union officer’s servant.
Browne joined the Union Army at age 15 and served until 1866. He then attended
school in Wisconsin before returning to the
South to teach in Georgia
It was in Alabama
that Browne became active in the self-control movement. He argued that alcohol
consumption among Black Americans wasted precious money and led to crime and
In a speech Brown once said: “Do you not see the yawning gulf standing open,
and our young men rushing headlong into it, thereby destroying themselves and
us, too? Are we men and women, standing still with our arms folded and mouths
shut, to see this demon of intemperance, sloth and cowardice swallow up our
Race?” After becoming a Methodist minister he urged the formation of
“fountains” to pool money and buy land. Soon, the True Reformers of Virginia
called Browne to restore its stagnant organization because his vision extended
into business activity. Eventually, he established a group whose objective was
to stop crime, decadence, poverty and misery while promoting joy, peace, and
In less than a ten years, he revolutionized Black insurance in Richmond and created a financial haven for
his vision; The True Reformers Savings Bank. Opened in 1889, it was the first
Black bank in the United
States to receive a charter. At its peak in
1907, it took in more than $1 million in deposits. Browne’s national stature
grew; he was linked with Booker T. Washington and others of the late 19th
century who stayed away from politics favoring a non-obtrusive approach to race
relations. Yet, his views did not enjoy universal approval. Browne would have a
falling out with John Mitchell, the anti-lynching crusader, and editor of the
Browne died of cancer in 1897 and his bank collapsed 11 years later from
mismanagement and embezzlement. True Reformers continued as a fraternal order
and insurance agency until its demise during the Great Depression.
Jelly Roll Morton was born on
this date. He was an American jazz composer and pianist who pioneered the use
of prearranged, semi-orchestrated effects in jazz-band performances.
Ferdinand Joseph Lamenthe (his original name) was from New Orleans, Louisiana.
He learned the piano as a child and from 1902 was a professional pianist in the
bordellos of the Storyville district of New Orleans. He was one of the pioneer
ragtime piano players, but he would later invite criticism by claiming to have
“invented jazz in 1902.” He was an important contributor in the transition from
early jazz to orchestral jazz that took place in New Orleans about the turn of the century.
About 1917 he moved west to California,
where he played in nightclubs until 1922. He made his recording debut in 1923,
and from 1926 to 1930 he made, with a group called Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, a
series of recordings that gained him a national reputation. Morton’s music was
more formal than the early Dixieland jazz, though his arrangements only
sketched parts and allowed for improvisation. By the early 1930s, Morton’s fame
had been overshadowed by that of Louis Armstrong and other emerging innovators.
As a jazz composer, Morton is best remembered for such pieces as “Black Bottom
Stomp,” “King Porter Stomp,” “Shoe Shiner’s Drag,” and “Dead Man Blues.” Jelly
Roll Morton died on July 10, 1941 in Los
date, we celebrate the birth of Jomo Kenyatta. He was an
African political leader, and the first president of Kenya.
From the Kikuyu tribe, he was one of the earliest and best-known African
nationalist leaders. He became secretary of his tribal association in 1928,
campaigning for land reform and African political rights. In England he
collaborated with other African nationalist students and in 1946 founded with
Kwame Nkrumah, the Pan-African Federation. Returning to Kenya, he became
president of the Kenya African Union that same year.
In 1953, during the Mau Mau uprising, Kenyatta was imprisoned by the British as
one of its instigators, and sent to internal exile in 1959. Kenyatta was
elected president of the newly founded Kenya African National Union while in
exile (1960). Released in 1961, he participated in negotiations with the
British to write a new constitution for Kenya, which became independent in
As an author, he wrote Facing Mount Kenya (1938) and Suffering Without
Bitterness (1968). Kenya became a republic in 1964 with Kenyatta as its first
president. Influential throughout Africa, Kenyatta was intolerant of dissent in
Kenya. Outlawing some opposition parties in 1969 he established a one-party
state in 1974.
The stability resulting from his leadership attracted foreign investment. He
followed a non-aligned foreign policy and died in office in 1978.
Rex Ingram was born on this date in 1895. He was
an African-American actor.
He was born on a houseboat on the Mississippi River near Cairo, Illinois, when
his mother, on her way home from a visit with relatives in Natchez,
Mississippi, went into labor. The son of a riverboat fireman, Ingram is said to
have grown up working with his father on the steamer Robert E. Lee. He enrolled
in medical school at Northwestern University in 1912; he was the first Black
man to earn a Phi Beta Kappa key at the school. Ingram claimed that he headed
for California in 1919, where he sailed for 18 months as a crewman on a
windjammer. Ingram became interested in acting while attending military school.
In his first film, Tarzan of the Apes 1918, Ingram was cast in a bit part. He
appeared in many other Tarzan films and in the silent films The Ten
Commandments, The Big Parade, Salome, and King of Kings. While he was in
Hollywood, Ingram worked a number of jobs between films in order to support
himself. According to Ebony Magazine, he claimed to have been called “the
greatest Negro heavyweight prospect since Jack Johnson” when he fought
professionally in California in 1921. Ingram moved from California to New York
City in 1928. In 1929 he made his stage debut on Broadway in Lulu Belle, and he
played in Porgy and Bess on Broadway in 1933. Goin’ Home (1932), Stevedore
(1933), Marching Song (1934), and Once in a Lifetime (1935) were other
off-Broadway shows in which he performed small parts.
In 1933 Ingram played a small part in the film Emperor Jones. More successful
on screen than on stage, Ingram’s first big break came in 1936 when he was cast
as De Lawd in the film version of The Green Pastures, Ingram married Francine
Everett the same year. Ingram was denied many roles during his career because
of racism, yet he was one of the few actors to serve on the board of directors
of the studio actor’s guild. One of his best-known roles was in the film Cabin
in the Sky (1943). As Ingram’s fame soared, he promised himself not to accept
any more roles that were demeaning to blacks. He recognized the powerful
influence of the entertainment media and wanted to help rather than retard the
process of black freedom and acceptance in America. Ingram became an
international star when in 1940 he was chosen to play the role of the Genie of
the Lamp in the British film The Thief of Baghdad.
He returned to Hollywood performing in Talk of the Town (1942), Cabin in the
Sky (1943), Sahara (1943), Fired Wife (1943), A Thousand and One Nights (1948),
and Moonrise (1948). In 1948 Ingram’s bright career stopped when he was
arrested for transporting a minor, a 15-year old white girl from Salina,
Kansas, across state lines for immoral purposes. He pled guilty to the charges
and was sentenced to an 18-month jail term. He served ten months before being
released on parole. Ingram lost his home in Warm Springs Canyon, California,
and suffered greatly from bouts of depression and self-doubt, but he refused to
quit. In 1951, Ingram made his first appearance since the tragedy in Nick
Stewart’s Christopher Columbus Brown. The way back was not easy, and Ingram
never achieved again the stardom he lost.
However, he did manage find to work, playing an African chief in Ramar of the
Jungle (1952), Anna Lucasta (1958), God’s Little Acre (1958), Elmer Gantry
(1960), Your Cheating Heart (1964), and Hurry Sundown (1967). In 1957 he
appeared on Broadway in the all-Black production of Waiting for Godot. He
appeared in the television shows Daktari, I Spy, Gunsmoke, and Playhouse 90.
His last role was for The Bill Cosby Show. Ingram smoked a pipe and made a
hobby of collecting them; he owned about 500 pipes.
He had a heart attack and died at his home in Hollywood on September 19, 1969,
leaving behind his second wife, Dena, daughter Gloria Wagner, and two
grandsons. He was 73 years old. He had a long career as an actor and enhanced
the Black male image on stage and in film.
North Carolina Mutual Life and Provident
Association is organized by seven African Americans: John Merrick, Dr. Aaron M. Moore, P.W. Dawkins,
D.T. Watson, W.G. Pearson, E.A. Johnson, and James E.
Shepard. Each invests $50 in the company, which will grow to become North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and have over $211 million in assets and over $8 billion of insurance in force by 1991.
On this date,
Adelaide Hall was born.
She was an African-American entertainer, dancer and vocalist.
She was from Brooklyn and was taught to sing by her father, making her show
business debut in a number of black musical shows in Hew York. This included
Shuffle Along, Chocolate Kiddies, Desires Of 1927, and Black birds Of 1928. The
last of these introduced several songs sung by Hall including I Can’t Give You
Anything But Love. Hall went to Paris and was married to a British seaman (Bert
Hicks) who opened a club for her called La Grosse Pomme.
Throughout the 1930s she stayed very busy working in America and Europe,
recording with Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and others. During World
War II her club was destroyed in a bombing arid, but Hall’s career continued
undisrupted. She toured for ENSA, sang in theaters, clubs and on the radio,
plus in 1951 she appeared in the London version of Kiss Me Kate. In 1957, Hall
went back to Broadway to star in Jamaica with Lena Horne.
During 1960-70 (after her husband’s death) she recorded two jazz albums and in
1974 she sang at the memorial service for Duke Ellington at St.
Martin-in-the-fields, London. In 1988, she performed a one-woman show at
Carnegie Hall. Adelaide Hall died on November 7th 1992 in London.
Enolia Pettigen McMillan was born Enolia Virginia Pettigen on
this date in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. She became the first female president
of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She
died October 26, 2006.
The “First Colored World Series” of baseball is held in Kansas City, Missouri. The series, which pits the Kansas City Monarchs against the Hillsdale team from Darby, Pennsylvania, is won by the Monarchs, five games to four, and was organized
by Rube Foster.
Morris Miller was born on this date. He was an
African-American nurse and health care advocate.
From St. Vincent, West Indies, he received his initial training there through a
fellowship with the World Health Organization. In 1959, he earned the
equivalent of a Master of Science degree from the University of West Indies in
Mona, Jamaica. After further study in microbiology at the University of Minnesota,
he became one the first Black nurses at Abbot Northwestern Hospital in
Minneapolis. There he spent 16 year in their coronary care unit. In 1977,
Miller became director of nursing at Queen of Peace hospital in New Prague,
Minnesota, and three years later he became associate administrator.
Miller was a warm-hearted professional who broke down many racial barriers
during his career. He was a volunteer for the board of directors with the
American Heart Association for over thirty years. After his retirement he was
appointed to the board of directors with the Sabathani Community Center in
Minneapolis. There he was developing a strategic five-year plan with incentives
for teenagers (specifically young Black males). Miller was also a long-standing
Masonic Lodge member.
Married with three daughters, Morris Miller died on April 23rd 2002
Roosevelt Brown is born in Charlottesville, Virginia. He will become a
football star at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland, and will be
drafted in the 27th round by the New York Giants in 1953. Over his
career he will be All-NFL for eight straight years (1956-1963), play in nine
Pro Bowl games, and named NFL’s Lineman of Year (1956). He will play for the
Giants for 13 seasons and will be elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1975.
Sixty leading southern African Americans issued the “Durham Manifesto,” calling for fundamental changes in race relations after a Durham, North Carolina, meeting.
On this date,
a racial incident of national degree occurred in Stillwater,
Oklahoma. It was in the college football game between Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) and Drake University.
During the first quarter of the game Drake’s Johnny
Bright, a Black running back and the nations leading rusher was
knocked out of the game with a broken jaw by Oklahoma A&Ms defensive tackle
Wilbanks Smith who was
white. With Bright gone A&M erased an early deficit and won the game over
previously unbeaten Drake.
A sequence of photos the next day in the Des Moines Register by photographers
Don Ultang and John Robinson showed Wilbanks Smith punching Bright on two
separate plays (one shown). When Bright (an Indiana native) attended Drake in
1948 as one of the few Black collegians in Des Moines, there was a distinct
line between blacks and whites at the school. Among other things Blacks were
not permitted to live on campus. The entire state of Oklahoma was totally
segregated, transportation, water fountains, everything.
The day before the game Drake fullback Gene Macomber while getting a haircut
remembers the barber telling him “the black guy would not finish the game.” In
the photos (shown) the third hit clearly shows Smith drawing back his fist and
hitting Bright, and after taking him out of the game it was found that his jaw
was broken. In retaliation Drake sidelined three A&M running backs, as the
game became a rough and dirty afternoon. Without their star player, A&M won
Years later in 1983, Johnny Bright, then a junior high school principal in
Edmonton, Canada died of a heart attack at age 53. A friend of Bright remembers
that one of those who sent a floral arrangement to the funeral was Wilbanks
The Mau Mau uprising against British rule in Kenya begins, with attacks against both British
settlers and Africans who refused to join the rebellion. Although British
rule is widely resented in Kenya, the Mau Mau fighters are mostly members
of the Kikuyu ethnic group, whose land had been taken over by British settlers.
The British will respond harshly to the rebellion, killing nearly 11,000
rebels and confining 80,000 Kikuyus in detention camps.
Although it will be a military failure, the Mau Mau rebellion will bring
international attention to the Africans’ grievances, and contribute to Kenya’s
independence in 1963.
Jomo Kenyatta and five other Mau Mau leaders are refused an appeal of their prison terms in British East Africa (Kenya).
Members of the Mau Mau guerilla troops all took an oath to commit themselves
to expelling all white settlers in Kenya and to eliminate the Africans
who cooperated with or benefited from colonial rule.
Jim Brown, of the Cleveland Browns, sets the then NFL all-time
rushing record, 8,390 yards.
South Africa begins the trial of Nelson Mandela & eight others on charges of conspiracy.
An all-white federal jury in Meridian, Mississippi convicts 7 white men in the murder of 3 civil rights workers. They are convicted of civil rights violations.
Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux, joins the ancestors at the age of 84. His church services were broadcast
weekly, first on radio, then on television. The theme song of his broadcasts
was “Happy am I, I’m Always Happy!”
New York Nets’ (ABA) Julius “Dr. J” Erving is traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. This will be the beginning of his
All-Star career in the NBA.
The Senate convicts U.S. District Judge Alcee L. Hastings of perjury and conspiracy and removes him from office. The conviction will
be overturned and Hastings is later elected to the House of Representatives.
On this date,
the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen became a
component of the classroom curriculum of the United
States Air Force Officers Training School.
Trainees attending Officer Training School to become future leaders of the Air
Force will now visit where the Air Force’s first black pilots attended training
more than 60 years ago. Officer trainees visit various historic sites in
Tuskegee, Alabama as part of an expanded curriculum to enhance trainee’s
knowledge Air Force history and heritage particularly the services’ first black
aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen.
Officials at the school approved a set of courses plan that includes tours to
facilities where the Army Air Corps’ first black aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen,
made history. The plan also includes classroom instruction, film presentations
and briefings from distinguished Tuskegee aviators such as retired Col. R.J.
Lewis, who will also share some of his personal experiences with other
legendary Tuskegee Airmen such as Generals Benjamin O. Davis Jr. and Daniel “Chappy”
Lt. Col. Hans Palaoro, 24th Training Squadron commander said “This
partnering of the Air Force’s OTS and Tuskegee’s historic Robert Moton Field is
a direct response to the Air Force chief of staff’s call for all Airmen to
learn more about and embrace their proud heritage.” Officer Trainee Gerry
Thompson, an 11-year Air Force veteran, said the visit to Tuskegee inspired him
both professionally and personally. “Listening to Colonel Lewis was
inspirational and motivational because despite all the prejudice and
discrimination, the Tuskegee Airmen had the strength and perseverance to
maintain a standard of excellence that was truly amazing.” Thompson said he was
so impressed that he plans to come back to Tuskegee with his family.
Maj. George Scheers, 24th Training Squadron director of operations
said, “Incorporating Tuskegee’s proud history into the curriculum without
cutting other course material took some creative thinking, but they were still
able to develop a successful plan for implementation.” Capt. Arnold Bowen, 24th
TRS assistant director of operations, added students will now have a
standardized training schedule instead of weekly schedules that varied for each
class due to holidays. This allows officials to focus more on courses such as
history and heritage, cultural awareness and Air Expeditionary Force skills as
outlined by the Air Force chief of staff.
OTS officials said some of the new curriculum changes will be added gradually
until a new expanded syllabus is implemented in fiscal year 2008.