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On this date, we celebrate the birth of Crispus Attucks. He was a Black merchant and patriot.

Little is known about the early years of Attucks. He was born a slave around in the (then) colony of Massachusetts. His father, Prince Yonger, was African and his mother, Nancy Attucks, was an Indian and possible descendant of John Attucks, a member of the Natick Indian tribe. John Attucks was executed for treason in 1676 during the King Philip War. The word “attuck” in the Natick language means deer.

In 1750, young Attucks a slave of William Brown of Framingham was an successful horses and cattle trader who did business with white men. He used the money he made to buy his freedom from his owner, William Brown. Brown refused and Attucks ran away. He was never caught and nothing was known of him for nearly twenty years before he resurfaced again. Historians guess that he escaped to Nantucket, Massachusetts and sailed as a harpooner on a whaling ship.

During those years, the American colonies resented having to buy almost everything from England and were unhappy about the lack of free trade. The most outspoken colony was Massachusetts. British king, George III, sent two regiments into the Boston Harbor in the fall of 1769. This resulted in many conflicts with the citizens of Boston. Attucks was living in Boston during this time. On March 5, 1770 while eating dinner when he became aware of a fight between Boston men and British soldiers. He went to Dock Square to investigate.

It has been said that he picked up a stick and shouted to the crowd gathered there to follow him to King Street. When they arrived Attucks went to the front of the crowd and struck at one of the British Soldiers. The soldier shot him twice. Four other men were killed, and six others were wounded. The next day, Attucks’ body was taken to Faneuil Hall, and two days later, all the businesses were closed for his and the other victims’ funeral. This event is known as the Boston Massacre.

In 1888, a Crispus Attucks monument was erected on Boston Common. In 1996, President Clinton enacted a Black Patriots Coin Law to commemorate African American contributions to the founding of America. The coin was struck in 1998, the 275th anniversary of the birth of Crispus Attucks, the first man to die for America’s freedom.

On this date we celebrate the birth of Nancy Green. She was a black storyteller and one of the first black corporate models in the United States.

The world knew her as
“Aunt Jemima” but her given name was Nancy Green. The famous Aunt Jemima recipe was not her recipe but she became the advertising world’s first living trademark. Miss Green was born a slave in Montgomery County, Kentucky. Chris Rutt, a newspaperman, and Charles Underwood bought the Pearl Milling Company and had the original idea of developing and packaging a ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour. To survive in a highly competitive business, the men needed an image for their product.

In 1889, Rutt attended a vaudeville show where he heard a catchy tune called “Aunt Jemima” sung by a blackface performer who was wearing an apron and bandanna headband. He decided to call their pancake flour “Aunt Jemima”. Later, Rutt and Underwood were so short of capital funds that they were broke. In 1890, they sold the formula to the R. T. Davis Milling Company. Mr. Davis began looking for a Negro woman to employ as a living trademark for his product, and he found Nancy Green in Chicago. She was 56 years old. The Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix was introduced in St. Joseph, Missouri.

In 1893, the Davis Milling Company aggressively began an all-out promotion of “Aunt Jemima” at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Green, as “Aunt Jemima” demonstrated the pancake mix and served thousands of pancakes. Green was a hit, friendly, a good storyteller, and a good cook. Her warm and appealing personality made her the ideal “Aunt Jemima” a living trademark. Her exhibition booth drew so many people that special policemen were assigned to keep the crowds moving. The Davis Milling Company received over 50,000 orders, and Fair officials awarded Nancy Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship.

She was proclaimed “Pancake Queen.” She was signed to a lifetime contract and traveled on promotional tours all over the country. Flour sales were up all year and pancakes were no longer considered exclusively for breakfast. Nancy Green maintained this job until a car crash in Chicago killed her, on September 23, 1923. The Davis Company also ran into money problems, and the Quaker Oats Company purchased the Aunt Jemima Mills in 1925.

Fugitive slave, George Latimer, is captured in Boston. His capture leads to the first of the fugitive slave cases which strain relationships between the North and South. Boston abolitionists will raise money to purchase Latimer from his slave owner.

This date celebrates Mount Bayou, Mississippi. Mount Bayou is one of the first incorporated Black Towns in the United States.

The town is of national historical significance because it is representative of the many towns established by Blacks who migrated from the south to northern and western communities after slavery. Located in Bolivar County in the Mississippi Delta; it was established by two former slaves, Isaiah T. Montgomery and his cousin Benjamin Green. They created a refuge for blacks from the many white-controlled cotton plantations at a time known for deadly racial violence. Montgomery, Green, and the other early Black pioneers built the town in the uninhabited wilderness and created a thriving, important historic community.

Another reason for its beginning was a fear from whites of bayou-country defenses in the area. In 1900 there were 287 people with over 1,500 Black farmers in the vicinity. Booker T. Washington took part in some of its economic development, which included the nation’s only Black-owned cottonseed mill (shown). Mount Bayou also had a railroad station (where the “colored” waiting room was larger than the “white” waiting room), a newspaper, many churches, schools, a bank, a telephone exchange, and other Black-owned businesses and industries.

Nearly everyone in and around Mount Bayou could read, a remarkable status for anyone in Mississippi in the late 19th century. Around 1900, President Theodore Roosevelt called Mount Bayou “the Jewel of the Delta.” Recently the people of Mount Bayou hosted a public dig with the University of Southern Mississippi; they wanted to share their rich history. The site was the location of Mount Bayou’s first city hall and mayor’s office. Together they unearthed interesting artifacts with the help of many young Blacks in the Mount Bayou area.

On this date, William Henry Hastie was born. He was an African-American attorney, Judge/Magistrate, and State Government Official/Executive.

From Knoxville, Tennessee, his family moved to Washington, DC, where he graduated from Dunbar High School in 1921. He received his A. B. from Amherst College in 1925, an LL. B from Harvard University in 1930, and a S.J.D from the same institution in 1933. He received honorary degrees from many other institutions over the years including Rutgers University, Howard University, and Temple University. Hastie was admitted to the bar in 1930 and was in private practice for three years. In 1933, he became assistant solicitor of the Department of the Interior until 1937.

At that time he became a judge serving the District Court of the Virgin Islands. In 1939, he became dean of the Howard University School of Law. In 1942, he was the first civilian aide to the secretary of war. He was governor of the Virgin Islands between 1946 and 1949, before his position as U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge for the Third Circuit. Judge Hastie received the coveted Spingarn Award in 1943 from the NAACP for his “distinguished career as a jurist and as an uncompromising champion of equal justice.” William Hastie died on April 14th 1976 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

While undergraduate students at Howard University, Edgar A. Love, Oscar J. Cooper and Frank Coleman founded Omega Psi Phi Fraternity on this day at the university with their faculty adviser Ernest Everett Just. It was the first Greek-letter fraternity to be formed at a Black school. The name originated from the initials of the Greek phrase “friendship is essential to the soul.” The fraternity was established to provide experience in communal living and to foster leadership skills among its members. Today the, 100,000-member, 659-chapter fraternity offers undergraduates those same opportunities and maintains numerous functioning alumni chapters.

Elvin Hayes, NBA star and Basketball Hall of Famer - “The Big E” (San Diego, Houston Rockets, Baltimore Bullets; 5th on the list of most games played in ABA/NBA; University of Houston, All America in 1967 and 1968), is born.

Fullback Jim Brown of Syracuse University scores 43 points against Colgate, establishing a NCAA record.

Ronnie DeVoe, rhythm and blues singer (New Edition; Bell Biv DeVoe), is born.

Sixteen Blacks were elected to Congress. Andrew Young of Atlanta was the first Black elected to Congress from the Deep South since the Reconstruction era. Also elected for the first time were Barbara Jordan of Houston, TX and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (Calif.). Republican Senator Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts was overwhelmingly endorsed for a second term.

Two FBI agents, Charles D. Brennan and George C. Moore, testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations that the bureau’s long-term surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was based solely on J. Edgar Hoover’s “hatred of the civil rights leader” and not on the civil rights leader’s alleged communist influences or linkages with radical groups.

Howard University’s WHMM-TV starts broadcasting. It is the first African American-owned public-broadcasting television station.

Twelve Klansmen, who fired on and killed five people in a 1979 anti-Klan rally in Greensboro, NC, were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder on this date.

Gloria Nayor, writer, won the “Lillian Smith Award” for her third novel, Mama Day, which centers on cultural conflict in an all-Black sea island community off the coast of South Carolina on this date.

Itabari Njeri receives the American Book Award for Outstanding Contribution in American Literature for her book, “Every Good-bye Ain’t Gone.” Also honored is poet Sonia Sanchez, who receives a lifetime achievement award.

Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) is elected as chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is the first Southerner to head the group, since it was founded in 1971. He had been first elected to Congress in 1992, the first African American to represent South Carolina since Reconstruction.

Esther Rolle, the Emmy Award-winning actress, who won acclaim on the hit CBS sitcom “Good Times” as well as on stage and in the movies, joins the ancestors at her home in Los Angeles, at the age of 78.

On this date, a jury convicted John Allen Muhammad of capital murder. The verdict was handed down in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The jury concluded he used a rifle, a beat-up car and a teenager who idolized him to kill randomly and terrorize the Washington D.C. area during last year’s sniper spree. One week later (November 24, 2003) the jury decided Muhammad should be executed for masterminding those sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington area for three weeks in the fall of 2002.

On this date, a popular white comedian openly, publicly, and repeatedly insulted blacks at a comedy club in Los Angeles.

Michael Richards, a Jew began his tirade at L.A.’s Laugh Factory after two audience members shouted at him that he wasn’t funny. A videotape of the incident was posted on Richards replied angrily: “Shut up! Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a [expletive] fork up your ass.” He then paced across the stage taunting the men for interrupting his show, showering his speech with racial slurs and profanities. “You can talk, you can talk, you’re brave now [expletive]. Throw his ass out. He’s a nigger!” Richards shouted before repeating the racial label over and over again. He also identified himself on stage as white.

Moderating his tone at one point, Richards told the audience, “It shocks you, it shocks you” and referred to “what lays buried.” While there was some chuckling in the audience throughout the outburst, others could be heard gasping “Oh my God” and others responded with “ooh” after Richards used the n-word. Comedian Paul Rodriguez, who was at the Laugh Factory during Richards’ performance, said he was shocked. “Once the word comes out of your mouth and you don’t happen to be African-American, then you have a whole lot of explaining.” “Freedom of speech has its limitations and I think Michael Richards found those limitations.”

On the following Monday, Richards said he spewed racial epithets because he lost his cool while being heckled. “I’m not a racist. That’s what’s so insane about this,” Richards said, his tone becoming angry and frustrated as he defended himself. “For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I’m deeply, deeply sorry,” the former Seinfeld co-star explained his actions during a satellite appearance for David Letterman’s Late Show in New York.

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D. McCree is granted a patent for the portable fire escape. Patent #440,322.