marks the birth of Lewis Temple. He was a
He was the creator of a whaling harpoon, known as “Temple’s
Toggle” and “Temple’s
Iron” that became the standard harpoon of the whaling industry in the middle of
the 19th century. Lewis Temple was a skilled blacksmith, not a
whaler. He was born a slave in Richmond, Virginia and came to New Bedford, Massachusetts
in 1829. By 1836, Temple was one of the 315,000
free Black people in the United States
and a successful businessman who operated a whale craft shop on the New Bedford waterfront.
Based on conversations with the whalers who came to his shop to have their
whaling tools made and to buy harpoons, Temple
learned that many whales escaped, since the harpoons used at the time were not
particularly effective in holding a struggling whale. In 1848, Lewis Temple
invented a new type of harpoon, with a movable head that prevented the whale from
slipping loose. The Temple Iron was more effective than any other and when the
head on Temple’s
harpoon became locked in the whale’s flesh, and the only way to free the
harpoon was to cut it loose after the whale was killed. Initially, whalers did
not accept Temple’s
However, after some trials, most whaling captains were convinced that Temple’s “Toggle Iron”
was far superior to the ordinary barbed head harpoon. Lewis Temple never
patented his invention, but was able to make a good living from his harpoon
sales. Temple was able to buy the building next
to his shop and, in 1854, arranged for construction of a blacksmith shop near Steamboat Wharf. Temple accidentally fell one night while
walking near his new shop construction site. He never fully recovered from his
unable to return to work and died destitute in May 1854. Clifford Ashley,
author of the book, The Yankee Whaler, said that Temple’s harpoon was “the single most
important invention in the whole history of whaling.”
The birth of Rev. James William Charles Pennington is celebrated on
this date. He was a black Educator, Clergyman, and author.
Eastern Shore Pennington’s mother, brothers, and he were sold when he was four
from other family members on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He ran away from a
harsh slave life to a Quaker family in Pennsylvania.
Through the Underground Railroad, he found a home on Long
Island where he was able to get a fundamental education. He taught
in schools on Long Island, and in Connecticut.
In the late 1830’s, he emerged as a leader in Black churches in New England. He became political and was active in the
Union Missionary Society, which encouraged boycotts on items produced by
slaves. Soon after Pennington took charge of a Presbyterian congregation of
colored people, went to England,
the West Indies, and returned to the Shiloh
Presbyterian Colored Congregation. He was sent as a Delegate to the Peace
Congress at Paris
in 1849 to preach and attended the National Levee at the mansion of the Foreign
Secretary of State, Minister Alexis De Tocqueville.
While in Europe, Pennington earned the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Heidelberg
In 1843 he attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Society and was the representative
In the 1850’s in New York,
he helped to organize one of the nation’s earliest civil rights societies—the
New York Legal Rights Association. He traveled to Europe
in his cause for world human rights, and anti-slavery. While abroad, his
freedom was purchased from his former owner.
He was a prolific writer, and is noted for his prose, religious leadership and
abolitionist efforts. In 1843 he represented Connecticut
at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London,
the first of several international tours in Europe
on behalf of the international abolition movement. He continued to minister,
educate, and agitate for abolition and equal rights up to his death in 1870 in Jacksonville Florida.
marks the birth of James A. Bland. He was a
Black entertainer and composer, born in Flushing,
Bland was one of the best-known black composers for the theatrical
entertainment called the minstrel show. He was educated in Washington,
DC, where he graduated from Howard University
in 1873. He went on to become a performer in minstrel shows, achieving his
greatest success in Britain
between 1882 and 1901.
He wrote more than 700 songs, mostly for minstrel shows, among them “Carry Me
Back to Old Virginny,” which was chosen in 1940 as the state song of Virginia
with the Virginia state legislature little knowing the identity and race of its composer, “In the
Evening by the Moonlight,” and “Oh, Dem Golden Slippers.” Virginia decided to change their state song
in the late 1990s due to protest from civil rights activists who noted that the
song glorified slavery and was and is inappropriate. Bland spent
the latter years of his life in poverty and obscurity, and James Bland died on
May 5, 1911 of tuberculosis in Philadelphia,
date, we celebrate the founding of Oakwood College. They are a
certified United Negro College Fund (UNCF) institution.
For over 100 years Oakwood has provided students the opportunity of learning in
preparation for service to community, country, and the world. The college is
regionally accredited by the Southern Accrediting Association of Colleges and
Schools and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Department of
Education. It offers a liberal arts curriculum in a religious atmosphere. Oakwood College
rest on nearly 1,000 acres in Huntsville in
It is nestled in the beautiful Tennessee
Valley at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Huntsville
is home for the Marshall Space Center,
and is recognized as being one of the most progressive cities in America.
The diverse mix of students from many foreign countries and over 40 states
provides an enriched environment that exposes their students to the richness of
different cultures. Oakwood
College fosters the
development of self-esteem, respect for others, and the required skills to be
socially adaptable and globally successful.
African Americans demonstrated and rioted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
to protest a theatrical presentation of Thomas Dixon’s “The Clansman.” “The
Clansman” extended the true story of the “Ku
Klux Klan Conspiracy,” which overturned Reconstruction.
George Leighton was born on this date. He is an
African-American attorney, judge and activist.
Raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts,
George Neves Leitao (his birth name) is the son of Anna Silva Garcia and
Antonio Neves Leitao; both were from Cape Verde. It was in school that
he got the name “Leighton” as the teacher claimed she could not pronounce his
last name “Leitao.” His parents, wanting no problems for their son, agreed. Due
to his family’s need for money, Leighton left school before the 7th
grade to take a job on an oil tanker in the (then) Dutch West Indies, (now) Netherlands Antilles.
In 1935, as a memorial to the sinking of the USS Nantucket by the SS Olympic,
the Cape Verdeans
of New Bedford, Massachusetts, under the leadership of
Alfred J. Gomes, a lawyer, created the Cape Verdean Memorial Scholarship Fund.
In the early winter of 1936, the first essay contest was held and two prizes
were awarded for the best essays submitted; each for $200.00. They were to
provide initial tuition for the winners in any college of their choice.
Leighton, seeking to complete his education through a scholarship won one of
He gained conditional admittance to Howard
University that year and
graduated magna cum laude four years later. Drafted into military service in
1940, Leighton became an infantry captain. In 1945, he entered Harvard, earned
an L.L.B. in 1946 and passed the Illinois
bar exam the following year. He was chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of
the Chicago NAACP between 1947 and 1952, and president of the Third Ward
Regular Democratic Organization. A From 1949 to 1951 he was assistant attorney
general of Illinois.
In 1951, he co-founded one of the largest African American law firms in the
country and the next year, he became the Chicago Branch NAACP president.
In 1964, Leighton was elected a Cook County Circuit Court judge and began
teaching at the John
School the next year. In
1969, Leighton became a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Illinois’ First District. After six years,
he was nominated to serve as a U.S. District Court judge. Leighton retired from
the U.S. District Court at the age of seventy-five but began counseling at Earl
L. Neal & Associates. Leighton has played a leadership role in governmental
groups, serving as chairman of the Character and Fitness Committee for the
First Appellate District of Illinois and chairman of the Illinois Advisory
Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
A man with a lifelong passion for the game of Chess, Leighton has also
participated in civic groups, serving on the board of directors of the United
Church of Christ and Grant
Hospital. He and his late
wife, Virginia Berry Quivers, have two daughters, Virginia Anne and Barbara
Lucy D. Slowe, dean of women at
organizer of the National Association of College Women, and a founder of AKA,
Inc., died in Washington, DC, at the age of 52. Slowe Hall, a
residence for women located on the Howard campus, is named in her honor.
Charles Cooper and Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton become two of the
first three African Americans to play in an NBA game. Cooper had been drafted
by the Boston Celtics on April 25, 1950, becoming the first African American
ever drafted by a NBA team.
Frank E. Peterson, Jr. is commissioned as the first African
American marine aviation officer.
Clarence S. Green becomes the first African-American
certified in neurological surgery.
The first African American post office opens in Atlanta, Georgia.
boycott Chicago public schools in a Freedom Day protest against de facto segregation.
In an interview
with the Washington Post, Spike Lee says, “Movies are the most powerful medium in the world and we just can’t
sit back and let other people define our existence, especially when they’re
putting lies out there on the screens.”
President George H.W. Bush vetoes major civil rights legislation, arguing that the measure would force employers to adopt hiring quotas. The veto is later upheld.
Thirty African American delegates conclude a three-day visit to the Republic of South Africa at the invitation of the African National Congress. While
George H.W. Bush with
failing to exert his influence to end Black township strife and Congresswoman Maxine Waters vows to press United States’ cities and states to
maintain sanctions against the republic.