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1867
On this date, emancipated blacks began influencing South Carolina politics. South Carolina citizens endorsed a constitutional convention and selected state delegates. 66,418 African Americans and 2,350 whites voted for the convention and 2,278 whites voted against holding a convention. The total vote cast is 71,046. Not a single African American voted against the convention.

Because Blacks in South Carolina vastly outnumbered whites, (over time) the newly enfranchised voters were able to send so many African- American representatives to the state assembly that they outnumbered the Whites.

Many were able legislators who worked to rewrite the state constitution and pass laws ensuring aid to public education, universal male franchise, and civil rights for all.



1911
William Attaway was born on this date. He was an African-American novelist, essayist, short story writer, playwright, screenwriter, and song writer.

From Greenville, Mississippi
William Alexander Attaway was the son of William S. Attaway, a medical doctor and Florence Parry Attaway, a teacher; a migrant professional family. At the age of six, his family to Chicago, Illinois. There young Attaway attended a vocational high school, planning to become an auto mechanic until one day in English class; he read a poem by Langston Hughes. After discovering that Hughes was a Black poet, he began applying himself more deeply in his school work. He soon did some script writing for his sister Ruth’s amateur dramatic groups.

Upon graduation from high school, Attaway enrolled at the University of Illinois where he was a tennis college champion. The death of his father forced him to drop out of college and became a traveling worker for two years. He moved around the country, working as a seaman, salesman, and labor organizer. It was during these years he was gathering material for his later writing. In 1935, Attaway helped write the Federal Writers’ Project guide for the state of Illinois. At this time he also became friends with a young Mississippi writer named Richard Wright. Attaway returned to the University of Illinois later that year, received his degree and moved to New York City. His drama “Carnival” was produced about this time.

In 1936, Attaway published his first story “Tale of the Blackamoor.” He worked odd jobs and even tried acting with his sister Ruth, who later became a successful Broadway actress. His literary career truly began under the tutelage of his sister. In 1939, while performing with the traveling production of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s “You Can’t Take It With You,” he learned that his first novel “Let Me Breathe Thunder” had been accepted for publication. With a two-year grant from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, Attaway began work on his next novel, “Blood on the Forge,” which was published in 1941. Attaway’s novels were well received by critics, but did not attract much public attention.

After Blood on the Forge was published, he did not write any more novels. Instead, he wrote songs, books about music, and screenplays. In the fifties, he began writing for radio, films, and TV. In 1957 he produced “Calypso Song Book,” a collection of songs. In 1967, he wrote “Hear America Singing,” a children’s history of popular music in America. He also wrote songs for Harry Belafonte, in whose home he was married in 1962; including the famous Day-O Banana Boat Song. Altogether, Attaway wrote over 500 songs.

Attaway was the first black writer to write scripts for TV and films. He wrote for small screen programs like the Wide Wide World and the Colgate Hour. He wrote Hundred Years of Laughter, an hour long special on black humor that aired in 1964. The hour-long special featured comedians Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, and Flip Wilson in their first appearance on television. Attaway lived with his wife, Frances, and his two children, Bill and Noelle, in Barbados for eleven years. His last years were spent in California writing screenplays. William Attaway died of cancer in June, 1986.



1917
The birth of Jackie Ormes is celebrated on this date. She was an African-American newspaper writer and cartoonist.

From Pittsburgh and then Chicago, she was born
Zelda Jackson. Ormes’ father was an artist and writer and influenced her early years. She began her journalistic career as a sports writer for the Pittsburgh Courier in 1938 covering the John Henry Louis & Joe Lewis heavyweight boxing match. On May 1, 1937, Ormes’ created her earliest cartoon. It was an action, romance, and soap opera comic featuring a Black heroine named Torchy Brown. Torchy Brown became a full-color Sunday feature. In its first episode, Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem, she was a teen-ager with a family.

The article returned in the late fifties with the romance filled Torchy Brown Heartbeats. This piece was ahead of its time, tackling issues like sexism, racism & environmental pollution particularly perpetuated upon Black populated areas. Torchy was a woman of Color who was not only sensuously drawn in contrast to the genre of the day that depicted black women as maids & mammies, she was portrayed as smart, brave & daring to stand up to the powers that be for justice.

Ormes also designed & marketed a line of cutout fashions for a paper doll version of her character, called Torchy’s Togs. During its five year run, Torchy was very popular. Young girls liked her as a paper doll, while older girls who could sew, made their own versions of Torchy’s togs. Young men in the armed forces found a use for Torchy as an attractive pin-up girl who was brown-skinned. In 1942, she then came to work for the Chicago Defender in a non-artistic position.

In 1946, Ormes introduced another strip, a single panel cartoon titled; Patty Jo ‘n Ginger. Patty Jo was a precocious, socially aware little girl living with her much older adult sister Ginger. The Patty Jo character went on to become this nation’s first positive image ‘Negro’ character doll that hit the toy stores in time for Christmas (1948). The Patty Jo dolls are now collector’s items. In the late 70s, arthritis limited her artistic work, however Ormes remained a serious artist, painting murals, portraits (specializing in children’s faces) & panels that decorated her home. She was also an passionate doll collector & member of the Chicago Chapter of the United Federation of Doll Clubs. In the 1950’s as her arthritis became worse, doll collecting began.

Retiring from cartooning in the 1960s Ormes had approximately 150 dolls, including a German-made doll, which was the predecessor to the Barbie of today. The oldest in her collection was 50 years old. Ormes was celebrated in Chicago’s black social & fashion circles. She was also on the board of directors of the DuSable Museum of African-American History and Art. Ornmes’ strips were syndicated in black newspapers across the country, making her the only nationally syndicated black woman cartoonist until the 1990s. Jackie Ormes died in Chicago on January 2, 1986.



1921
On this date we mark the birth of Roy Campanella. He was an African-American baseball player.

He was a professional National League catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, whose career was cut short as a result of an automobile accident. Campy, as he was called, was from Homestead, Pa. He began playing semiprofessional baseball on the Nicetown, Philadelphia sandlots when he was 13, and at 15 he was signed to play in the Negro leagues. He batted and threw right-handed. He joined the Dodgers in 1948,
becoming one of the first African-American baseball players signed to major league ball after Jackie Robinson breaks the color line, and was their regular catcher from 1949 until an automobile accident after the 1957 season left him paralyzed. He was the first African American catcher in Major League history.

During his playing career, he was named the NL most valuable player three times 1951, 1953, 1955 and was recognized by s
portswriters and other baseball experts as the best fielding catcher in the league in the 1950s and probably one of the very best catchers ever to play baseball. He was also known for his hitting and in 1953 led the league in runs batted in 142, and hit 41 home runs. In that year, he was given the second MVP award in 1953 on his birthday. He played in five World Series 1949, 1952-53, 1955-56. His baseball career ended when he was paralyzed in an automobile accident in January, 1958. He then worked for many years in the Dodger organization. His autobiography, It’s Good to Be Alive, was published in 1959 and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

Roy Campenella died on June 26th 1993 in Woodland Hills, near Los Angeles, California.



1949
Ahmad Rashad, is born Bobby Moore in Portland, Oregon. Rashad will be a first-round draft choice of the St. Louis Football Cardinals in 1972. He will go on to play for Buffalo and Seattle before settling in Minnesota in 1976 and playing the next seven seasons for the Vikings. Rashad will hold the Viking career reception lead (400) and be second in reception yardage. Overall, Rashad will have 495 receptions in 10 seasons. Rashad—who played his college football at the University of Oregon—will be inducted into the state of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and the University of Oregon Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. He will also be the author of a book, “Rashad: Vikes, Mikes, and Something on the Backside,” published by Viking Press. During the summer of 1991, he will expand his broadcasting resume by handling television play-by-play for the Seattle Seahawks pre-season football games.


1955
Carmen de Lavellade begins a contract for three seasons as a dancer with the Metropolitan Opera.


1957
Otis J. Anderson, NFL running back (NY Giants, 1990 Superbowl MVP), is born.


1973
Savion Glover was born on this date. He is an African-American actor, tap dancer and choreographer.

From Newark, New Jersey, as a young child, Glover displayed an enthusiasm for rhythms, and at age four he began taking drumming lessons. At age seven he began taking tap lessons and quickly developed a passion for rhythm tap, a form that uses all parts of the foot to create sound. Glover is a graduate of the Newark Arts High School.

While a student at Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan, his teacher arranged an audition for him with a Broadway choreographer. This led to his Broadway debut at age 10 in The Tap Dance Kid. He made his film debut in 1989’s Tap co-starring with Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr. In 1990, he joined the cast of the children’s television series, Sesame Street.

He came to additional public attention in 1996, starring in the George C. Wolfe-produced musical Bring in ‘da Noise/Bring in ‘da Funk. He also starred in Spike Lee’s 2000 film Bamboozled. In 2004, Glover partnered with spoken word artist Reg E. Gaines and saxophonist Matana Roberts in a John Coltrane-inspired improvisation session, “If Trane Wuz Here”.

In 2005, he collaborated with a string chamber orchestra and his band, “The Otherz,” in “Classical Savion”. His most recent credit is as the motion-capture dancer for Mumble, the penguin in the Warner Bros. animated release Happy Feet.



1975
After a seven-year exile, Eldridge Cleaver, returned to California, on this date to face charges of attempted murder following a 1968 shootout with Oakland police. Cleaver now believed that the country had changed and he could get a fair trail.


1984
Dwight Gooden, of the New York Mets, at 20 years old, becomes the youngest major-league pitcher to be named Rookie of the Year in the National League. The Mets pitcher led the majors with 276 strikeouts.


1985
Comedic character actor Stepin Fetchit, born Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, joins the ancestors in Woodlawn Hills, CA the age of 83.


2007
Having pled guilty on his role dog fighting operation, known as Bad Newz Kennels, that was operated on his Surry County, VA property, suspended superstar quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick surrendered to U.S. Marshall and began serving his sentence so that he could get out of custody as soon as possible, even though, at this time, the length of his sentence had not yet been determined.


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1890

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