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
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.
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
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
date, William Henry Hastie was born. He was an African-American attorney, Judge/Magistrate, and State
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, 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 TMZ.com. 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.