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On this date, one of the first successful African slave rebellions took place. Enslaved Africans on the island of St. John (today a part of the United States Virgin Islands) defeated the Danish army, taking over the island and flying their own flag. The insurrection, the first successful one in the New World, lasted six months; the Africans finally were defeated by troops sent by other European colonies in the region as reinforcements for the defeated Danish troops.

The first free school for African Americans, the African Free School was founded and commenced on this date as a one-room school at 245 Williams Street (although it would not have an official building until 1796) in New York City by John Jay (the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court), Alexander Hamilton (the first Secretary of the Treasury) and other members of the New York Manumission Society, an organization that advocated the full abolition of African slaves. This school was developed for children living in New York and had an attendance forty boys and girls, the majority of whom were the children of slaves. It was founded just nine years after the society helped the passing of a state law in 1785 that prohibited the sale of slaves imported into the state. The law also eased restriction of the manumission of Africans already committed to slavery.

After a fire destroyed the building in 1814, African School No. 2 opened in 1815 on William Street near Duane with room for five hundred pupils. By 1834 there were seven African Free Schools and, in 1835, the school was integrated into the public school system.

Other areas also developed African American Free Schools. Philadelphia had seven schools; Boston had three. Salem, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; New Haven, Connecticut; and Newport, Rhode Island, each had one school. While these were modest efforts, they remain significant since any kind of formal education for African Americans was almost nonexistent before the Civil War.”

The North Star newspaper was established in Rochester, New York.

The first Civil Rights Act is passed over the veto of President Andrew Johnson.

C.W. Allen patents the self leveling table. Patent #613, 436.

On this date, Sippie Wallace was born in Houston, Texas. She was an African-American blues singer.

Born Beulah Belle Thomas, Wallace was given the name “Sippie” as a child, and was first exposed by her father, a church deacon. After her second marriage and spending time in New Orleans, her family moved back to Houston and she began working with Madame Dante, a snake dancer in a reptile show. It was around this time (1917) that she began singing at picnics, parties, dances, and traveling tent shows where she became known as the “Texas Nightingale.”

Most of Wallace’s songs were self written and in 1923, she recorded Shorty George and Up the Country Blues for Okeh Records. She quickly became one of the most popular blues singers in the country, famous for her weighty, rhythm style boasting of Chicago and southwestern influences. Wallace recorded many songs including, Special Delivery Blues and Jack o’ Diamond Blues (1926), I’m a Mighty Tight Woman (1929) and more. She went in to a somewhat obscure state because of the great depression, focusing mainly on church music while performing in public. From 1929 to 1970 she was the organist of the Leland Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan.

She began singing blues again with great response in 1966, thanks to encouragement from blues great Victoria Spivey, and she toured Europe with Bonnie Raitt as well. Sippie Wallace died in Detroit in 1986.

Grambling State University is founded in Grambling, Louisiana as the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School under the leadership of Charles P. Adams.

The first edition of Crisis magazine is published by the NAACP with W.E.B. Du Bois as its editor.

Margaret Taylor Burroughs was born on this date. She is an African-American artist, educator and writer.

From St. Rose Parish, Louisiana, Burroughs graduated from Chicago Teachers’ College in 1937, then received an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1948. During the ‘40s she taught art in Chicago elementary schools, and published her first children’s book, Jasper, the Drummin’ Boy (1947). Burroughs was known in the Chicago area as the founder, along with her husband, Charles, of the DuSable Museum of African American History. Opened in the couple’s South Side house in 1961 as the Ebony Museum of African American History, the collected artifacts expressed Burroughs’ commitment to exploring and sharing the cultural heritage of African Americans.

In 1967, she and Dudley Randall edited an anthology called For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X, and published several volumes of her own poetry. Burroughs’ art works in diverse media have been exhibited internationally.

Florence Mills joins the ancestors in New York City after being hospitalized for an appendectomy at the age of 32. She was one of the most popular entertainers of her day, appearing in Shuffle Along and From Broadway to Dixie as well as having successful tours in the United States and Europe.

In the foreword to his book, The Negro in Art, Howard University professor Alain Locke introduces the most extensive retrospective of African American art published to date. The selections appearing in the book span almost 300 years and include the work of 100 black artists from Europe and the United States including Joshua Johnston, Edward Bannister, Henry O. Tanner, Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff, Palmer Hayden, Allan Crite, James A. Porter, and James Lesesne Wells, among others.

John H. Johnson publishes the first issue of Negro Digest.

On this date, the first issue of EBONY magazine was published in Chicago, Illinois.

The second publication of John H. Johnson’s fledgling company, Ebony, was the catalyst for a communications empire that eventually included magazines, book publishing, and radio.

Johnson started the company with a $500 loan on his mother’s furniture. The first office of Johnson Publishing Co., which was then called Negro Digest Publishing Co., was on the second floor of the windy cities Supreme Life Insurance Co. building in a room of a private law firm.

Soon Johnson bought the company’s first building to house EBONY and its sister publication Negro Digest on South State Street in Chicago.

Dr. Charles S. Johnson becomes the first African American president of Fisk University.

Jet magazine is founded by John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony magazine.

The Iota Phi Theta fraternity, originally founded at Morgan State University in 1963, was incorporated on this date.

Antigua & Barbuda gain independence from Great Britain.

South Africans voted in their first all-race local government elections, completing the destruction of the apartheid system.

John Kagwe of Kenya wins the New York City Marathon for the second consecutive year.

Former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, the NFLs all-time leading rusher, joins the ancestors after succumbing to bile duct cancer at the age of 45.

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