The birth of
Aesop around 620 BC is celebrated on this
date. He was an ancient black storyteller.
He was a Black slave of Iadmon (located in the south of Greece near northern Africa).
Most accounts describe Aesop as a deformed man whose name came from the Greek
word Aethiops which means Ethiopia.
In 1715, William Dugard translated his stories from the Greek text of
Planudes’. There he also describes Aesop as one whom “Nature had gratified with
an ingenious mind, but the Law had enslaved.” According to Herodotus, he lived
in Samos in the 6th century BC and
eventually was freed by his master receiving his liberation in Iadmon. Other
accounts connect him with many wild adventures and attach him with such rulers
as Solon and Croesus.
During the reign of Peisistratus Aesop visited Athens where he told the fable of The Frogs
asking for a King. He spoke of this to put off the citizens from attempting to
replace Peisistratus with another ruler. Aesop is known his stories called
Aesop’s fables. They were preserved principally through Babrius, Phaedrus, Planudes
Maximus, and La Fontaine’s verse translations. The most famous of these fables
include “The Fox and the Grapes” and “The Tortoise and the Hare.” A few famous
quotations by Aesop are; After all is said and done, more is said than done.
Any excuse will serve a tyrant. United we stand, divided we fall. Be content
with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.
Physically he also had a large head, bowed legs and a large belly. He prospered
most about 550 BC, yet was killed around 560 BC. History says it was ordered
probably by a decree of the Delphic oracle. It also has been said that
compensation for his death was claimed by the grandson of his master.
marks the birth of Levi Coffin. He was an
American abolitionist and President of the Underground Railroad.
Levi Coffin was from New Garden,
North Carolina, and the only son
of seven children. The young Levi received the bulk of his education at home,
which proved to be good enough for Coffin to find work as a teacher for several
years. In 1821, with his cousin Vestal, Levi Coffin ran a Sunday school for
Blacks. Alarmed slave owners, however, soon forced the school to close.
In 1824, Coffin decided to join his other family members who had moved to the
young state of Indiana.
Establishing a store in Newport,
Coffin prospered, expanding his operations to include cutting pork and
manufacturing linseed oil. Even with his busy life as a merchant, Coffin was
“never too busy to engage in Underground Railroad affairs.” Also, his thriving
business and importance in the community helped deflect opposition to his
Underground Railroad activities from pro-slavery supporters and slave hunters
in the area.
Questioned about why he aided slaves, Coffin said “The Bible, in bidding us to
feed the hungry and clothe the naked, said nothing about color, and I should
try to follow out the teachings of that good book.” In 1847 Coffin left Newport to open a wholesale warehouse in Cincinnati that handled cotton goods, sugar,
and spices produced by free labor. The enterprise had been funded a year
earlier by a Quaker Convention at Salem,
Coffin and his wife continued to help slaves via the Underground Railroad. Both
during and after the Civil War, Coffin served as a leading figure in the
Western Freedmen’s Aid Society. Working for the freedmen’s cause in England and Europe,
Coffin, in one year, raised more than $100,000 for the Society. He died in
September 1877 in Cincinnati and is buried in
that city’s Spring
date, we mark the birth of Fredrick L.
McGhee. He was a Black lawyer and civil rights activist.
his father could read and write passing down to him the benefits of education.
As a youngster, the family moved to Knoxville,
Tennessee where he attended
school with help from the Freedmen’s bureau and the Presbyterian Church. Later
he went to Chicago
and worked as a waiter to pay for law school, graduating in 1885. McGhee was
the first African-American lawyer in the state of Minnesota. With a keen sense of legal
business, his most notable asset was his ability as an orator in the courtroom.
He won a clemency from President Benjamin Harrison for a client Lewis Carter, a
Black soldier falsely accused of a crime. He was always mindful of the plight
of Blacks and sought to be a part of a legal solution. McGhee was director of
the legal bureau of the National Afro-American Council and a founder of the
Niagara Movement. McGhee was also very active politically. He was chosen to be
a presidential elector by the Minnesota Republican party in the spring of 1892.
After protests by White Republicans, he was replaced in the summer of 1892. He
stayed with the party until the spring of 1893 when it reneged on another
political promise. Later that year he was refused a seat as a delegate at the
Republican National Convention. Frustrated, McGhee changed his allegiance to
the Democratic Party; becoming one of the first nationally prominent Black
Democrats. A Catholic he was very involved in Saint Peter Claver Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.
He helped arrange the foundation for a branch of the NAACP but died in 1912
before the plan could be completed.
The First Kansas Colored Volunteers, while
greatly outnumbered, repulse and drive off a rebel force at Island Mound, Missouri. This is the
first engagement for African American troops in the Civil War.
Patrick Healy becomes president of Georgetown University,
the oldest Catholic University in the United
States and becomes the first African American president
of a predominantly white university in the United States.
The birth of
Amy Ashwood Garvey is
celebrated on this date. She was an African-American activist and the first
wife of Marcus Garvey.
From Port Antonio, Jamaica,
Ashwood spent part of her childhood years in Panama with her father who was a
businessman. Returning to Jamaica,
she attended Westwood
High School in Trelawny.
While still a teenager, her political activities began with her work in the
Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). She became one of the founding
members of the UNIA, and played a central role in its organization. She also
organized the women’s auxiliary of the UNIA.
Ashwood came to America
in 1918 and played an important role in the UNIA branches there as Marcus
Garvey’s chief aide and as secretary of its New York Branch. On Christmas day
in 1919, she married Marcus Garvey in the presence of several thousand friends.
Not long after this she was made a director of the Black Star Line. She also
helped to establish the newspaper Negro World and sold it on the streets to
help promote its readership. After she was divorced in 1922, she traveled
extensively, but continued to take a keen interest in social welfare, politics
and the cultural life in the countries in which she lived.
In 1924, Garvey worked with many prominent West Africans in founding a Nigerian
Progress Union. Between 1935 and 1938 she owned a restaurant in London. She remained a
strong pan-Africanist and feminist and lectured on these issues during her
tours of various countries, including Trinidad and Tobago. Garvey lived
in West Africa from 1946 to 1949. Amy Garvey
died in 1969.
Omega Psi Phi fraternity is
incorporated at Howard
University. Founded in
1911 by three students, Frank Coleman, Oscar J. Cooper and Edgar A. Love and
their faculty adviser, Ernest Everett Just, the fraternity will grow to have
over 90,000 members in chapters throughout the United States and abroad.
Arturo Chico O’Farrill was born on
this date. He was an Afro-Cuban composer, arranger, trumpeter, and band leader.
From Havana, Cuba,
he began playing the trumpet while attending military school in Georgia. Once
he returned to Cuba,
O’Farrill studied composition and led his own band. In 1948, he moved to New York and began
writing and arranging for Benny Goodman and Stan Kenton. He studied composition
in Havana, and
in the mid-1940s played with a band led by Armando Romeu and with his own
In 1948 he moved to New York, where he wrote music for Benny Goodman, Stan
Kenton, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie; in the early 1950s he formed his
own band, which played at Birdland, toured the USA, and recorded the album Jazz
(1951-2, Clef 132). Towards the end of the decade he moved to Mexico, and in 1962-3 he gave concerts in Mexico City.
After returning to the USA
in 1965 he settled in New York
and worked as an arranger and music director for CBS on the television program “Festival
of the Lively Arts”; among the musicians who took part were Count Basie,
Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, and Stan Getz. In 1965-6 O’Farrill wrote
arrangements of pop songs for albums by Basie. From the 1970s, he was less
active in jazz, but he wrote pieces for Gato Barbieri and Kenton (both 1974),
and a band led by Gillespie and Machito (1975). While O’Farrill worked for the
jazz elite throughout his career, it wasn’t until 1995, with the release of his
album Pure Emotion, featuring his son Arturo O’Farrill, that Chico’s place among them as a true pioneer of
the Afro-Cuban sound was clearly established.
For the remainder of his life, O’Farrill recorded and performed regularly. He
also appeared in the Latin jazz documentary, Calle 54. He died on June 27,
2001, from complications of pneumonia. He was 79.
Leonard Randolph “Lenny” Wilkens is born in Brooklyn, New York.
He will become a professional basketball player for the St. Louis Hawks,
Cleveland Cavaliers, Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Supersonics. He will
also coach every team for which he played. In 1995, he will surpass Red
Auerbach as the NBA winningest coach, with his 939th victory. On
March 1, 1996, he will become the first coach to win 1,000 regular season
games. He and John Wooden will become the only two persons to be elected to the
Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach.
Telma Hopkins, singer from Tony Orlando and Dawn
and actress from Family Matters, is born in Louisville, Kentucky.
Earl Bostic, popular jazz alto saxophonist and
winner of the 1959 Playboy Jazz poll, joins the ancestors in Rochester, New York.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma native had begun his career in the Midwest and, after
studying music and playing with bands in the South, landed with Lionel
Hampton’s big band, among others.
Elmore Smith of the Los Angeles Lakers blocks 17
shots in a game to establish a NBA record.
Edward M. McIntyre is elected
as the first African American mayor of Augusta, Georgia.
Cosby, critical of the portrayal of Black images, made a bid to buy
Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, USMC (Ret.) was born in Topeka,
Kansas on this date. On June 6, 1950, Frank Petersen enlisted in the Navy. At
the age of 20, he was the first Afro-American to be named a naval aviator in
the Marine Corp. He was also the first African American to command a fighter squadron,
a fighter air group, an air wing, and a major base.