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1775
General John Thomas asserts blacks’ right to serve in the military.


1877
William F. (Billy) Williams was born on this date. He was an African-American executive political assistant.

From St. Paul, Minnesota, he was a graduate of Mechanic Arts High School and Hess Business College in St. Paul. An exceptional athlete, Williams was a semi-pro baseball player. In 1904, Williams joined the staff of Governor John A. Johnson as his personal assistant. Though he wished to pursue his talents on the field, he was equally adept as an administrator. He also wanted to take care of his family, a pact he made with his mother. A skillful communicator, Williams was retained in that position through fourteen governors for a total of 53 years.

He also was active and voiced forceful opposition to racism (particularly) in the military. Williams also acted as chairman of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety during the First World War, retiring in 1957. Upon his departure, the state legislature passed a special act giving him a pension for life. William F. Williams died in 1963.



1892
25,000 African American workers strike in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is the first major job stoppage in U.S. labor history by African Americans.


1896
On this date, Marjorie Stewart Joyner was born. She was an African-American businesswoman and humanitarian.

From Monterey, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, she came to Chicago as a child, studying cosmetology as a teenager. She became associated with the famous beauty expert Madam C.J. Walker who had been made famous by Josephine Baker’s adoption of her products. Marjorie Stewart Joyner had a strong message that she carried throughout her life. Be proud of who you are and treat yourself as if you care. This strong belief in pride led her to being an avid supporter of young men and women throughout her life. It also led her to an invention to help the women who came to see her feel better about themselves.

Joyner went on to become an inventor and an educator in African-American beauty culture. While a cosmetologist, she was frustrated that the day after having her hair done most women looked like “an accident going someplace to happen.” In response she invented a permanent wave machine that would allow a hairdo to stay set for days, if not more. According to Anne MacDonald, “This was a dome shaped device that applied electrical current to pressed and clamped one-inch sections of hair, creating a hairdo that would last a considerable time.” In 1926 she became the first African-American woman to receive a patent for her invention and this opened the door for many others to follow. Marjorie Joyner never received any money for her invention but she did move up in the business world of beauty.

She became the Director of C.J. Walker’s nationwide chain of beauty schools. She also co-founded, with Mary Bethune Mcleod, the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association in 1945. She was always committed to helping people. During the depression she worked for several of the New Deal programs to find housing and work for young African-Americans. She consistently worked to instill pride in the young people she worked with. In pursuit of this goal she worked for years to raise money for Black colleges and chaired the Bud Billiken Parade, the largest African American parade in the United States, for over fifty years.

She is often called the “Grand Dame of Black Beauty Culture” and the “Godmother of Bethune-Cookman College.” Marjorie Stewart Joyner died on December 27, 1994, in Chicago, Illinois.



1911
This date marks the birth of Sonny Terry born. He was an African-American blues singer and harmonica player who became the touring and recording partner of guitarist Brownie McGhee in 1941.

Saunders Terrell (His name at birth) was born in Greensboro, Georgia, blinded in a childhood accident; Terry was raised by musical parents and developed a harmonica style that imitated sounds ranging from moving trains to barnyard animals, often using his voice while playing these effects. The harmonica player DeFord Bailey, who broadcast nationally on the radio program Grand Ole Opry, influenced him. Terry traveled as an itinerant musician from 1929 through the 1930s, working with Blind Boy Fuller and recording with him in 1937-40.

Terry first met McGhee in 1939 and in 1940 performed with him and the singer Paul Robeson in Washington, D. C. Terry and McGhee first recorded together in 1941. Subsequently they recorded extensively and toured internationally, becoming a popular nightclub, concert, and folk, blues, and heritage festival attraction. During his long career, Terry also performed with such blues man as Blind Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, and Big Bill Broonzy.

Terry appeared in the Broadway musical Finian’s Rainbow (1947-48) and the play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955-57). Sonny Terry died March 11, 1986 in Mineola, New York.



1923
The U.S. Department of Labor issues a report stating that approximately 500,000 African Americans had left the South in the preceding twelve months.


1935
Langston Hughes’ play “Mulatto” opens on Broadway. It will have the longest run of any play by an African American until Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.”


1935
Italy invades Ethiopia. African Americans hold mass meetings of protest and raise funds for the Ethiopian defenders.


1940
Robert Lee Vann, publisher, lawyer, and political civil rights leader, died in Philadelphia, PA on this date. Vann shaped the Pittsburgh Courier into the leading Black paper of its time. He served as its treasurer and later editor.


1942
In recognition of the influence of so-called race music, Billboard magazine creates its first ratings chart devoted to African American music, The Harlem Hit Parade. The number-one record is “Take It & Git” by Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds of Joy, featuring Mary Lou Williams on piano.


1948
Frizzel Gray is born in Baltimore, Maryland. Better known as Kweisi Mfume, an adopted African name that means “Conquering Son of Kings,” he will be elected a congressman from Maryland’s 7th District in 1986. He will later leave the Congress to become the head of the NAACP.


1964
On this date, Zambia gained independence from Britain and Kenneth David Kuanda became its president

Originally colonized by Portugal centuries earlier, the territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the South Africa Company from 1891 until takeover by the UK in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration. By 1960 the British Government, in the famous ‘There is a wind of change blowing through Africa’ speech by the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, had acknowledged that the days of colonial (or minority) rule on the continent were ending.

The premier of the White dominated Federation Roy Welensky, threatened to declare unilateral independence from Britain, but was drawn back. When Zambia trade unions, including now powerful miners, threw their weight behind UNIP, the nationalist momentum became unstoppable. Intense and often violent rivalry between Kaunda’s UNIP and Nkumbula’s ANC was eventually neutralized in a transitional coalition government. The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964.

In the 1980s and 1990s, declining copper prices and a prolonged drought damaged the economy. Elections in 1991 ended one-party rule, but the subsequent vote in 1996 saw obvious harassment of opposition parties. With a population of over 9 million Zambia is located in Southern Africa, east of Angola.



1970
On this date, we celebrate the founding of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW).

This is an organization dedicated to community service, leadership development, and the enhancement of career opportunities through networking and programming. NCBW was conceived in New York City and became a national organization in 1981. The NCBW has 60 chapters in 21 states and The District of Columbia, with over 7,000 members. NCBW’s diverse membership is comprised of professional women who are actively involved in the political and economic life of their communities.

The mission of the NCBW an advocacy organization is to empower African-American women through programs that meet diverse needs. These programs enable NCBW to provide effective networks among black female leaders; establish links between NCBW and corporate and political sectors; allow black women to be a visible in the socio-economic and political arenas; expose our next generation, through role modeling and mentoring to new career opportunities with a special focus on the corporate area; and recognize the historic achievements of African-American women.



1972
Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League baseball, joins the ancestors at the age of 53 in Stamford, Connecticut.


1994
William Jefferson Clinton presented Dorothy Porter Wesley (1905-1995) with the Charles Frankel Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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