The birth of
Roger Brooke Taney is recalled
on this date. He was an American lawyer, judge who supported slavery.
Born in Calvert County, Maryland, Taney (pronounced Tony) came from
a wealthy slave-owning family of tobacco farmers. He studied law in Annapolis and was in the
same class with Francis Scott Key. He joined the House of Maryland Assembly in
1799 and became a prominent attorney in that state by 1825. Taney also became
the Attorney General of Maryland two years later. President Andrew Jackson
appointed Taney Secretary of the Treasury in 1831. In 1836, he was appointed
the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
He presided over abolitionist Thomas Garrett’s trial in 1848 and the Dred Scott
Case in 1857. Taney felt that the police power of a state entitled it to make
reasonable regulatory laws even if they appeared to override provisions of the
U. S. Constitution. He held that, although Congress alone had the power to
regulate interstate commerce, a state might exclude a corporation organized
elsewhere. In sustaining fugitive slave laws, however, Taney denied to Free states the power of
refusing obedience to Federal statutes requiring the surrender of escaped
His position on the slavery laws was most clearly expressed in the Dred Scott
Case (1857). Here he held that slaves (and even the free descendants of slaves)
were not citizens and may not sue in the Federal courts. He also felt that
Congress could not forbid slavery in the territories of the United States.
He died in 1864.
In Washington, DC, a small group meets to form the Washington Society of Colored Dentists. It is the first society of African American dentists in the United States.
Booker T. Washington, educator, orator, and founder of Tuskegee Institute, joins the
ancestors on the college’s campus at the age of 59. He was one the most famous
African American educators and leaders of the 19th century, whose message of
acquiring practical skills and emphasizing self-help over political rights was
popular among whites and segments of the African American community. His 1901
autobiography, “Up From Slavery”, which details his rise to success despite
numerous obstacles, became a best-seller and further enhanced his public image
as a self-made man. As popular as he was in some quarters, Washington was aggressively opposed by
critics such as W.E.B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter. He was born
The NAACP led protests
against the showing of the racist film, “Birth of a Nation,” on this date. The film glorified the Ku Klu Klan and devalued
emancipation, Black morality, and Black reconstruction.
On this date
we mark the birth of Mabel Fairbanks. She was an
African-American figure skater.
From New York City, as a young girl in 1930s, Fairbanks discovered her
lifetime passion watching a Sonia Henje movie. She then saw a pair of black
skates in a pawnshop window and talked the guy down to $1.50. They were two
sizes too big, but that didn’t stop Fairbanks.
She stuffed them with cotton, found her balance on blades by going up and down
the stairs in her building, and took to the nearby frozen lake. It wasn’t long
before Fairbanks was sailing across the ice, and
a passerby suggested she try out the rink in Central Park,
she was soon skating solid 6.0 judging, but the pro clubs wouldn’t have her
because of her race.
”I remember they said to me, “we don’t have Negroes in ice shows,” “But I
didn’t let that get in my way, because I loved to skate. Fairbanks continued to refine her skill and
returned to the rink again and again. Then one day, the manager noted her
persistence and the shiny pair of new skates her uncle bought her from the
Macy’s basement, and he let her inside. From then on, Fairbanks’ ability and sparkle shattered the
race barrier at that pivotal rink, and professional skaters started giving her
free lessons. In the 1940s, Fairbanks came to Los Angeles and performed
in nightclubs like Cyro’s.
was invited to skate on the road with the Rhapsody On Ice show, she jumped at
the chance, even though they said they needed her as “someone to skate in the
dark countries.” She wowed international audiences, returning to Los Angeles
only to find it still blind to her talent, but not to her color. “They had a
sign at the Pasadena Winter Gardens that read “Colored Trade Not Solicited,”
she remembers. “But it was a public place, so my uncle had newspaper articles
written about it and passed them out everywhere until they finally let me in.”
She landed a role on KTLA television’s Frosty Follies show and continued to
perform at local showrooms, yet Fairbanks still wasn’t allowed to join
professional skating clubs. She got herself and other Blacks in by sending for
individual memberships from the USPSA (United States Professional Skating Association),
without letting them know they were black. Fairbanks opened the door for other
young Blacks to compete in skating, but her pro years had passed, so she became
a teacher and coach in Culver City and the Hollywood Polar Palace. Famed
Olympic medalist, Scott Hamilton, learned from Fairbanks when he was just a
young beginner, and she gave free lessons to those too poor to pay.
While at the Polar Palace, her students included many celebrities and their
children, like Natalie Cole, Ricky Nelson, Danny Kaye, and Jimmy Durante. It
was Fairbanks who paired the two Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner while watching
them skate. Many of her Black skating students went on to be Olympic gold
medallists because she skated over, around and through walls of racism. Fairbanks’
ability to do and teach has helped cultivate some of the finest skaters of the
century. “If I had been allowed to go in to the Olympics or Ice Capades like I
wanted to then, I may not have helped other Blacks like I did, and coached such
wonderful skaters, and I think all that has been just as important and
You could find Fairbanks rink side, coaching pro skaters at Iceland in Van
Nuys. While the “official” skating world denied Fairbanks’ contributions,
world-renowned skaters sought her out as a coach. Her students include the
United States and World Champions Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, plus Kristi
Yamaguchi, Rudy Galindo, and Tiffany Chin. In 1998, Fairbanks was honored with
the Silver Achievement Award, Sports Category, at the YWCA’s Leader Luncheon at
the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.
She taught and coached on the ice until she was 79 years old and was diagnosed
with Myasthenia Gravis, a disease that weakens the muscles. Mabel Fairbanks
died at 85 in September 2001 in Los Angeles, California.
On this date
in, Doris Hollis Pemberton was born.
She was an African-American civic leader, reporter, and author.
Pemberton was born, in Nacogdoches, Texas, the daughter of John Henry and Della
Mae (Powdrill) Hollis. She spent her childhood in Limestone County near
Comanche Crossing, Webb Chapel, Rocky Crossing, and Groesbeck, Texas. She
enrolled at Texas College, Tyler, when she was sixteen years old and graduated
from Texas Southern University at Houston in 1955. She attracted national
attention in 1944 when she became the first Black reporter to cover a state
Democratic convention in Texas, writing for the Dallas Express.
Pemberton found a racially offensive placard situated near her seat at the
convention and hurled the placard away. About 4,000 spectators both cheered and
booed as newsreel cameras filmed the incident. She later moved to Houston,
where during the 1950s she helped develop classes in arts, crafts, and science
for Black children at the Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum,
the Museum of Natural History, the Singer Sewing Center, and the United Gas
Eventually she received a law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law
at Texas Southern University but never practiced. Hollis was married to Charles
Pemberton and had four children. Pemberton was a member of the Newspaper
Institute of America, the National Council of Negro Women, the Auxiliary to the
Houston Medical Forum, and the Houston Council on Human Relations, the 4-H
Club, the Blue Triangle YWCA, and the National Association for Financial
Assistance to Minority Students, the Women of Achievement, and a number of
She wrote a book, Juneteenth at Comanche Crossing 1983, a history and
reminiscence of people and places in her native Limestone County. Doris
Pemberton died in Houston in May 1990, and was buried at the Paradise Cemetery.
The New York Times and Tribune call Charles Gilpin’s portrayal
of Brutus Jones in “The
Emperor Jones”, a performance of heroic stature. Gilpin
had premiered in the play earlier in the month with the New York-based
Provincetown Players, which will influence his being named one of the ten most
important contributors to the American theater of 1920 and the 1921 recipient
of the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal.
Ellis Marsalis is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. After high school, Marsalis will
enroll at Dillard University (New Orleans) and graduate with a Bachelor of Arts
degree in music education. Marsalis will eventually become New Orleans’ leading
Jazz educator. He will become a lecturer at Xavier University and an adjunct
teacher at Loyola University. Marsalis will enroll in the graduate program at
Loyola University and will graduate with a Masters of Music Education. Marsalis’
teaching career will flower at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts
(NOCCA). Many of his former students will be professional musicians locally as
well as internationally. Three of his six sons, Branford, Wynton and Delfeayo
as well as trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Donald Harrison and pianist
Harry Connick, Jr. will attain worldwide acclaim with recording contracts on
William Levi Dawson’s Symphony No. 1, Negro Folk Symphony, is the first symphony on black
folk themes by an African American composer to be performed by a major
Lydia M. Holmes of St. Augustine, Florida patents plans for several easily assembled wooden pull toys including a bird, a truck
and dog. Her Knockdown Wheeled Toys
Condoleezza Rice was born on
this date. She is an African-American politician, administrator, and writer.
From Birmingham, Alabama, she is the only child of Angelena Rice and the
Reverend John Wesley Rice, Jr. Her father became a minister at Westminster
Presbyterian Church and her mother was a music teacher. Her name is a variation
on the Italian musical term “con doloezza” which is a direction to play “with
sweetness”. Her father also worked as a high-school guidance counselor. Young
Rice was born the same year as the Brown v. Board of Education decision. She
was eight when her schoolmate Denise McNair was killed in the bombing of the
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church by white supremacists in 1963. Rice has said
that growing up during segregation taught her determination against adversity,
and the need to be “twice as good” as non-minorities.
In 1967, the family moved to Denver when her father accepted an administrative
position at the University of Denver. At age 15, Rice began classes with the
goal of becoming a concert pianist. Her plans changed when she attended a
course on international politics taught by Josef Korbel, the father of former
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. This experience sparked her interest in
the Soviet Union and international relations and led her to call Korbel, “one
of the most central figures in my life” Rice enrolled at the University of
Denver, where her father both served as an assistant dean and taught a class
called “The Black Experience in America.”
In 1974, at age 19, Rice earned her bachelor’s degree in political science, cum
laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver. In 1975, she obtained
her master’s degree from Notre Dame. She first worked in the State Department
in 1977, during the Carter administration, as an intern in the Bureau of
Educational and Cultural Affairs. At age 26, she received her Ph.D. from the
Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. In
addition to English, she speaks Russian, French, and Spanish. Rice was a
Democrat until 1982 when she changed her political affiliation to Republican
after growing averse to former President Carter’s foreign policy. She also was
influence by her father.
She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been
awarded honorary doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of
Alabama in 1994, Notre Dame in 1995, the National Defense University in 2002,
the Mississippi College School of Law in 2003, the University of Louisville and
Michigan State University in 2004. She lives in Washington, DC.
Rice has been a member of many boards of directors. From 1989 through 1991, she
served in the Bush Administration as Director, and then Senior Director, of
Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a
Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In 1986,
while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, she
was Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1997,
she was on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender — Integrated Training in
the Military. As a writer, her books include Germany Unified and Europe
Transformed (1995) with Philip Zelikow, The Gorbachev Era (1986) with Alexander
Dallin, and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984).
She also has written numerous articles on Soviet and East European foreign and
defense policy, and has addressed audiences in settings ranging from the U.S.
Ambassador’s Residence in Moscow to the Commonwealth Club to the 1992 and 2000
Republican National Conventions. As professor of political science, Dr. Rice
has been on the Stanford faculty since 1981 and won the 1984 Walter J. Gores
Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 1993 School of Humanities and Sciences
Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 1999, she completed tenure as
Stanford University’s Provost, during which she was the institution’s chief
budget and academic officer.
Dr. Condoleezza Rice became Secretary of State on January 26, 2005. Prior to
this, she was the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs,
commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor, since January 2001.
On this date,
Valerie Wellington was born.
She was an African-American blues singer.
From Chicago, Illinois, Valerie Eileen Hall trained as an opera singer at
Chicago’s American Conservatory of Music for three years. She learned piano as
a youngster and played with local blues man Lee ‘Shot’ Williams at the age of
15. In 1982 she came to the notice of the blues audience as a singer by
portraying Ma Rainey in a local musical stage play and, two years later, she
recorded her debut album for the Rooster label, which received ‘rave’ reviews
from the critics, all of whom commented on the power of Wellington’s voice.
In 1987, she contributed one track to Alligator Record’s The New Bluebloods, an
anthology of younger blues artists, as well as providing music to several television
commercials. As a blues-woman she fit right in, not only becoming a regular in
the blues clubs but also compiling an impressive theatrical resume for her
portrayals of women who, like opera singers, learned to project their voices
The influence of Koko Taylor has also been evident in Wellington‘s musical
approach, which combines classic vaudeville-era blues with hard-driving Chicago
sounds. Sadly, Valerie Wellington died from a brain aneurysm at the age of 33
on January 2, 1993 in Maywood, Illinois.
Four African American girls are escorted by U.S. Marshals and parents to two New Orleans schools being desegregated.
Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) defeats Cleveland
Williams by TKO in the third round in front of boxing’s
largest indoor crowd, assembled in the Houston Astrodome. He retains his world heavyweight title.
On this date, Diversity Information Resources (DIR) was
This was one of the first business groups in America created to encourage
whites to do business with Black businesses. Known as “TRY US Resources” in its
beginning, Diversity Information Resources was founded in Minneapolis in 1968
by H. Peter Meyerhoff. He was an aeronautics engineer at Honeywell. Personally
affected by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. he sought to
advance race relations by improving economic conditions for Blacks.
Meyerhoff and his wife were European Jews who managed to escape Hitler at the
outset of World War II. Themselves victims of discrimination, they launched the
“Buy Black” directory (Shown), a 10 page directory of Black-owned businesses.
Still operating effectively today, the DIR directory/database has grown to
include more than 10,000 certified minority and women-owned businesses. Policy
and direction for Diversity Information Resources are set by a board of
directors whom represent major U.S. corporations. Diversity Information
Resources has expanded its operations to include educational seminars, and
DIR’s Mission Statement is: To be the global leader providing information
resources that develops, influences and supports supplier diversity growth.
Rosa Parks was
presented the first “Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award” by the Wonder
Woman Foundation on this date.