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Fort Scott, Kansas is celebrated on this date. This was a sensitive military post and town in the year before the Civil War.

Fort Scott, Kansas was established on this date for the Army’s peacekeeping efforts along the Indian Frontier. Horse soldiers and Colored Volunteer infantry soldiers garrisoned it. Both infantry and horse soldiers played a major role in the Mexican War and the opening of the West. The post was abandoned by the army in 1853 and became the nucleus for the town of Fort Scott. It was then that Fort Scott was involved in the turmoil and violence of the “Bleeding Kansas” years. Fort Scott was a pro-slavery center during this time, while “Free Soldiers” inhabited the surrounding countryside.

This separation was manifested where a former infantry barracks served as the Western or Pro-Slavery Hotel, while directly across the old parade ground stood the Free-State Hotel. Incidents of violence compelled the military to return to Fort Scott to restore order throughout this era. Kansas entered the Union as a free state in 1861. In the same year, a new wave of conflict engulfed the area. The First and Second Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiments, the first African-American troops from a Northern state, were assembled there.

Fort Scott was also a refugee center for the many people left homeless during the war. The final phase of military occupation at Fort Scott came during the railroad years of 1869-73.

Charles H. Garvin is born in Jacksonville, Florida. He will become the first African American physician commissioned in World War I.

Philip B. Downing invents the letter box and street letter box and is awarded, respectively, patent #462,093 and 462,096. This improvement in the covering and opening of outdoor mailboxes protected mail from both intruders and weather. It is relatively unchanged to this day.

This date, celebrates the birth of Charles “Teenie” Harris.

He was an African-American photographer. From the Hill District of Pittsburgh, he was the youngest son of William A. and Ella Mae “Olga” Taliaferro Harris. The family owned the Masio Hotel on Wylie Avenue. Young Harris attended Watt School, now the Robert L. Vann School, and after graduating, he worked as a chauffeur and mechanic until 1938 with brother William “Woogie” Harris. Woogie also owned the Crystal Barber Shop on Wylie Avenue and was involved in the “numbers” or “policy” lottery.

In the late 1920’s Harris became a founding member of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, a (then) sandlot baseball team. He even played for them until 1930 when the Crawfords entered Negro League competition. During that time (1929), Harris bought his first professional camera with money from his brother. He began taking photographs of local and visiting celebrities for Washington-based Flash! Magazine not long after this he married Ruth M. Butler; they had one son, Charles A. Harris; yet they separated around 1932. Four years later, Harris became a freelance photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the country’s largest circulation Black newspapers.

In 1938, he opened a photographic studio in Pittsburgh’s Hill District at 2128 Center Avenue. In 1944, he married Elsa L. Elliott; and had four children: Ira Vann Harris, Lionel L. Harris, Crystal Harris, and Cheryl A. Harris. In 1953, he closed his Studio. In 1975, Harris Retired from the Pittsburgh Courier. In 1986, he signed a management agreement with Dennis Morgan, Pittsburgh artist and entrepreneur for his works.

Charles “Teenie” Harris, the dapper photographer whose thousands of images captured celebrities and chronicled decades of black life in Pittsburgh, died June 12, 1998 at the home where he had lived for most of his life. Harris’ archive is housed in the African Studies Department of the University of Pittsburgh.

The Carnegie Museum of Art purchased 27 vintage Harris prints from the Pittsburgh Courier Photographic Archive for its exhibition “Pittsburgh Revealed” and accepted the gift of approximately 3500 vintage prints.

On this date, Anna Langford was born. She was an African-American politician and attorney.

From Springfield, Ohio, Langford was educated at Roosevelt University. She earned a law degree in 1956 beginning an extensive career in civil rights and criminal law. Working throughout the state of Illinois, she actively defended civil rights workers in the 1960s and joined Dr. Martin Luther King’s Chicago civil rights marches.

In 1971, Anna Langford became the first woman elected to the Chicago City Council. Langford was defeated for re-election in 1975, but returned to serve two additional terms in the Chicago City Council from 1983 and 1991.

Oliver Tambo was born on this date. He was an African politician and activist against apartheid.

Oliver Reginald Tambo was born in the village of Kantolo, about 20 km from Bizana, in Pondoland. His mother, Julia, was the third wife of Mzimeni Tambo, son of a farmer and assistant salesman at a local trading store. Tambo’s parents were traditionalist, but also saw the importance of western education and he was sent to school, as he grew older he developed a desire to leave home and gain wider experience elsewhere and enrolled at the missionary school at Flagstaff, called Holy Cross. His father could not afford his fees, but Tambo displayed such enthusiasm that the school found a sponsorship for him through two English sisters.

One of his older brothers, who was working as a migrant laborer in Natal, also sent a part of his wages to cover any additional costs. After five years at Holy Cross he was accepted at St Peter’s, a well-known school for black children in Johannesburg. For the first time he was exposed to youngsters of other traditional African cultures, as well as to institutionalized segregation and white racism. In 1933, when he was 16 Tambo’s parents passed away within a year of each other and he was orphaned. During this time Tambo achieved an excellent pass, which resulted in the Eastern Cape assembly of chiefs, the Bhunga, granting him a bursary to further his education at Fort Hare University. Tambo initially decided to study medicine, but at the time no university medical school would accept black students. He opted for a course in the sciences and three years later he graduated with a B. S. degree in mathematics and physics.

After being elected as Chairperson of the Students’ Representative Council of his residence, the Anglican Beda Hall, he organized a student protest and was expelled from Fort Hare. He went back to his home in Kantolo to look for employment in order to support the younger members of his family and was offered a position as Master in Mathematics at his alma mater, St Peter’s. At that time Johannesburg was an exciting melting pot of cultures for young, upcoming Africans and Tambo soon became involved with Walter Sisulu, Anton Lembede, Jordan Ngubane and Nelson Mandela, a fellow student from Fort Hare. The group regularly visited the house of Dr Xuma, a medical doctor who was also the President of the African National Congress (ANC).

Here they formulated a plan to revive the ANC and make it more accessible to ordinary people. In 1944, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), as well as the Women’s League, were established. Anton Lembede was elected chairman of the new ANCYL, with Oliver Tambo as its secretary and Walter Sisulu as its treasurer. In 1948 the National Party came into power and suddenly a number of discriminatory laws were put into place. In order to challenge these laws Tambo decided to study law through correspondence and in 1952 he joined the law practice of Nelson Mandela, where, together, they were able to assist Africans in their struggle against apartheid. In 1953 Tambo was appointed as the ANC national secretary in place of Walter Sisulu, who had been banned by the government as a result of the Defiance Campaign. During 1955, Tambo became engaged to Adelaide Tsukudu, a Youth League activist and nurse employed at Baragwanath Hospital and they were married in December 1956; the couple had three children.

In the aftermath of the Sharpeville Massacre Tambo went on a ‘Mission in Exile’ in order to gain international support for the South African liberation movement. Tambo emerged as one of the foremost advocates of women’s rights within the movement. During the 1980’s, Tambo, as the president of the ANC, was increasingly recognized by the Organization for African Unity as a head of state in exile. He also promoted Nelson Mandela as a symbol of worldwide political freedom and resistance to racial intolerance. Tambo led the group that formulated the Harare Declaration and because of the grueling schedule he was subjected to his health began deteriorating health resulting in a mild stroke in 1982.

Disregarding the advice of his medical advisers Tambo did not ease his efforts, and in 1989, after the presentation of the Harare Declaration, he collapsed and suffered a severe stroke. While Tambo recuperated, Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were released. In December 1990, Tambo returned home and attended the first ANC Congress to be held inside South Africa since its banning. Nelson Mandela was elected President of the ANC and Tambo its National Chairman.

The remaining three years of his life Tambo spent at his sister’s house in Kantolo, the home he had longed for during all his long years in exile. During the early hours of the morning of April 23, 1993, Oliver Tambo suffered a massive and fatal stroke. He was honored with a state funeral.

Ruby Dee was born on this date in 1924. She is an African American actress and activist.

Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, her father, Marshall Edward Wallace, was a porter and waiter on the Pennsylvania Railroad; her mother, Emma Wallace, was a schoolteacher. She grew up in Harlem, New York, and was a 1945 graduate of Hunter College.

Dee was the first black woman to appear in major roles at the American Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, CT. She became one of the foremost actresses in America, beginning her career on Broadway in the early 1940’s, where she made several appearances. She married actor Ossie Davis and had a strong personal career with such notable stage roles as “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Purlie Victorious,” and “The Taming of the Shrew.” Later she would get national recognition for her role in the 1950 film, The Jackie Robinson Story. Her acting career has crossed all major forms of media, television series and movies, over a span of 8 decades, including films such as A Raisin in the Sun, the screen version, opposite Sidney Poitier (1961), Uptight (1968), Buck and the Preacher (1972), the widely viewed and historical important television series, Roots (1978), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991) by Spike Lee and starring Wesley Snipes, and The Delany Sisters: The First Hundred Years (1999).

During the 1960s, Dee appeared in such politically charged films such as Gone Are the Days and The Incident, which paved the way for many young African American filmmakers and actors. She has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards, winning once for her role in 1990’s Decoration Day. Dee and her late husband, actor Ossie Davis, were well-known civil rights activists.

She is a member of such organizations as CORE, the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Her son Guy Davis was born in 1952. She and her husband were personal friends of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, with Davis giving Malclom X’s eulogy at his 1965 funeral. Dee is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and a survivor of breast cancer for more than thirty years.

Ernest Everett Just, an African-American embryologist who pioneered understanding of cell division, researching fertilized egg cells, experimental parthenogenesis, hydration, cell division, dehydration in living cells, and the effect of ultra violet rays on egg cells, died of pancreatic cancer on this date. In 1915, he was awarded the first Spingarn Medal, the highest honor given by the NAACP. His research during the summers of 1909-30, at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, Mass, included thousands of experiments on marine mammal cell fertilization. Outside MBL, he experienced discrimination. Seeking more opportunities, he spent most of the 1930s in various European countries. WW II hostilities caused him to return to the U.S. in late 1940, but he died the next year.

Jayne Kennedy is born in Washington, DC. She will become an actress, writer and producer. Her movie credits will include “Fighting Mad,” “Body and Soul,” “Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women,” “Cover Girls,” “The Muthers,” and “Group Marriage.”

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. became the first Black general, a One-Star Brigadier General, in the U.S. Air Force. He was assigned to the top position by President Dwight D. Eisenhower at Godman Field, KY. In 1944, Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. pinned the Distinguished Flying Cross to the chest of Colonel B.O. Davis, Jr., who had led the 332nd Pursuit Squadron, a Black group, on a successful bombing raid against a German installation located deep in occupied France. The younger Davis withstood the silent treatment during his days at West Point and became the first Black to be graduated from the prestigious military academy in forty-seven years. Davis also has the distinction of being the country’s first Black Three-Star General.

Dr. Charles S. Johnson, educator, sociologist, and author, died in Louisville, KY, at age 63. Dr. Johnson became the first Black President of Fisk University in 1946 and served until his death. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover named him to the Black housing committee; later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt named him to his Farm Tenancy Committee, the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Committee, and the National Committee of Children in Wartime; President Harry S. Truman sent him to Japan as a member of the education mission of the State Department and later appointed him a delegate to UNESCO. Dr. Johnson was the author of 18 books and more than 70 articles.

Martin Luther King Jr. is released on bond from the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville. Political observers say the John F. Kennedy call for King’s release increased the number of African American voters who ensured his election.

The Republic of the Congo becomes the Republic of Zaire.

President Jimmy Carter signs the Hawkins-Humphrey Full Employment Bill. Co-authored and sponsored by black Congressman Augustus F. Hawkins, this was also called the “Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act.”

St Vincent & the Grenadines becomes independent of Great Britain.

Andrew Young, former United Nations Ambassador, is elected mayor of Atlanta, Georgia.

John Oliver Killens, author of novels, “And Then We Heard the Thunder and Young Blood,” died on this date.

Walter E. Washington, ex-mayor of Washington, DC, died on this date at age of 88. He was the first elected mayor of the nation’s capital in modern times and the first African American to head the government of a major U.S city.

On this date, racial rioting began in France.

Starting in a northeastern Paris suburb of Toulouse, African immigrants were angry over the deaths of two Black teenagers. Also there has been rage building over racism, living and working conditions for Africans and the dissent grew into a nationwide insurrection.

The reaction forced France to confront anger building for decades in neglected suburbs and among the French-born children of Arab and Black African immigrants. The teenagers whose deaths sparked the rioting were of Mauritanian and Tunisian descent. They were electrocuted as they hid from police in a power substation thinking they were being chased.

French President Jacques Chirac privately said that rioters would be caught and punished; yet acknowledged in a meeting with Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga that France has not integrated immigrant youths. Chirac deplored the “ghettoization of youths of African or North African origin” and recognized “the incapacity of French society to fully accept them.” France “has not done everything possible for these youths, supported them so they feel understood, heard and respected,”

Chirac added, noting that unemployment runs as high as 40 percent in some suburbs, four times the national rate. One person, Jean-Jacques Lechenadec had died.

In a game between the Oakland Raiders and the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers in the Oakland Alemeta County Stadium, another chapter in the history of play between these two teams occurred. In a 1972 playoff game, in Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium in what is one the most storied and talked about plays in NFL history, famously dubbed “The Immaculate Reception” by Pittsburgh sportscaster Myron Cope, Steelers’ Hall of Fame full back Franco Harris took in a controversial deflected pass and ran the ball in from a touchdown. On this date, in the first play from scrimmage in the game with the Raiders backed up to their own 7-yard line, No. 2, Raiders’ Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, on a read option play, scampered untouched for 93 yards enroute to a Raider’s touchdown, an NFL record for a run by a quarterback. On the play, no doubt, with the Raiders in their situation, everyone expected Pryor to hand off the ball to running back Darren McFadden.

The run also set the record for longest touchdown run in Raiders history, breaking Bo Jackson’s record of a 92-yard touchdown run in 1989. The previous record run from scrimmage by a quarterback is held by former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart. Stewart scored on an 80-yard run in a Week 16 loss to the Carolina Panthers in 1996. The longest run from scrimmage is held by Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys, who on January 3, 1983, during a Monday Night Football game in Minnesota, broke a 99-yard touchdown run against the Vikings, which is the longest run from scrimmage in NFL history. As of this date, 14 NFL players have had 99-yard pass plays (obviously for touchdowns). They are below:

  • Victor Cruz of the New York Giants on December 24, 2011
  • Wes Welker of the New England Patriots on September 12, 2011
  • Bernard Berrian of the Minnesota Vikings on November 30, 2008
  • Andre Davis of the Cleveland Browns on October 17, 2004
  • Marc Boerigter of the Kansas City Chiefs on December 22, 2002
  • Robert Brooks of the Green Bay Packers on September 11, 1995
  • Tony Martin of the San Diego Chargers on September 18, 1994
  • Mike Quick of the Philadelphia Eagles on November 10, 1985
  • Cliff Branch of the Oakland Raiders on October 2, 1983
  • Jerry Allen of the Washington Redskins on September 15, 1968
  • Pat Studstill of the Detroit Lions on October 16, 1966
  • Bobby Mitchell of the Washington Redskins on September 15, 1963
  • Mac Speedie of the Cleveland Browns on November 2, 1947
  • Andy Farkas of the Washington Redskins on October 15, 1939

The Raiders went on to win the game 21-81.

On this date, Minnesota Vikings’ rookie Cordarrelle Patterson took the opening kickoff against the Green Bay Packers and returned 109-yards for a touchdown. This set the NFL record for longest kickoff return in league history and tied Antonio Cromartie’s record, then with the San Diego Chargers, for longest play in NFL history, a return of a missed field goal 109-yards for a touchdown in a November, 2007 game against the Vikings played at the Metrodome.

Patterson broke the kickoff return record of 108 yards previously held by New England Patriots’ Ellis Hobbs (2007), Green Bay’s Randall Cobb (2011), and Baltimore Ravens’ Jacoby Jones (2012).

Of note, Marcus Sherels, also of the Vikings, had a 109-yard return in a 2013 preseason, against the Tennessee Titans.

Of the record, future kickoff returners can only tie Patterson’s record, but they can never break it.

On this date, in a 31–30 win over the Dallas Cowboys, wide receiver Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions in Ford Field in Detroit, MI caught 14 of 16 passes thrown in his direction, and finished the game with 329 receiving yards and one touchdown. In doing this, he broke the Lions franchise record of 302 receiving yards set by Cloyce Box on December 3, 1950. The yardage he gained was the highest receiving yardage ever in a 60-minute regulation game and the second-highest overall single-game yardage in NFL history. It ranked only behind Flipper Anderson, then of the Los Angeles Rams, who had a 336-yard performance in a 1989 Week 12 overtime win against the New Orleans Saints where he had 15 receptions with a 22.4 yards per reception average. (Anderson accumlated an additional did 40 of those yards in overtime.) In this same game, Johnson also tied Lance Alworth of the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys for the most career games with at least 200 yards receiving.

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