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The life of Zumbi is celebrated on this date. He was an Afro-Brazilian abolitionist and soldier.

Zumbi pronounced: “Zoom-bee”) was an Afro-Brazilian slave and one of the most famous leaders of Palmares. As a child he was given to a missionary, Father Antonio Melo at age 6. Baptized Francisco Zumbi, he was taught the sacraments, learned Portuguese and Latin, and helped with daily mass. Despite attempts to “convert” him, Zumbi escaped in 1670 and, at the age of 15, returned to his birthplace. Zumbi became known for his physical prowess and cunning in battle and was a respected military strategist by the time he was in his early twenties.

In 1678, the governor of the captaincy of Pernambuco offered its leader Ganga Zumba freedom for all runaway slaves if Palmares would submit to Portuguese authority, a proposal which Ganga Zumba favored. Zumbi rejected the deal and challenged Ganga Zumba’s leadership. Vowing to continue the resistance to Portuguese oppression, Zumbi became the new leader of Palmares. Fifteen years later, Portugual mounted an artillery assault on the quilombo. On February 6, 1694, after 67 years of ceaseless conflict with the cafuzos, or Maroons, (a Portuguese term describing the first generation offspring of a Black African and an Amerindian) of Palmares, the Portuguese destroyed Cerca do Macaco.

Zumbi was wounded, betrayed, captured almost two years later and immediately executed (beheaded) on November 20, 1695. Today, November 20 is celebrated, chiefly in Rio de Janeiro, as a day of national pride. The day has special meaning for Afro-Brazilians, who honor him as a hero, freedom fighter and a symbol of freedom. Zumbi was was the last of the leaders of Quilombo dos Palmares, in the present-day state of Alagoas, Brazil.

African Americans hold a nearly week long protest convention in Zion Church in Charleston, South Carolina and demand equal rights and repeal of the “Black Codes,” which restricted the movement  and freedom of freedmen.

On this date, Howard University was founded. They are one of over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)’s in America.

General Oliver O. Howard established Howard Theological Seminary in an abandoned dance hall, today called Howard University. With a campus covering eighty-nine acres in northwest Washington D.C., presently more than 10,000 students are enrolled there and 88 per cent are African-American.

The first African-American president of Howard was Mordecai Wyatt Johnson. Today, it has become America’s largest predominantly African-American university.

Charles Gilpin was born on this date. He was an African-American actor and singer.

From Richmond, Virginia,
Charles Sidney Gilpin worked as an apprentice in the Richmond Planet print shop before finding his career in theater and becoming one of the most highly regarded actors of the 1920s. He first came on stage as a singer at the age of twelve. In 1896, Gilpin joined a minstrel show, leaving Richmond and beginning a life on the road for many years. While not on stage in theaters, restaurants, and fairs he worked odd jobs as a printer, barber, boxing trainer, and railroad porter. In 1903, Gilpin joined Hamilton Ontario’s Canadian Jubilee Singers.

Two years later he performed with the Abyssinia Company and the Original Smart Set, two traveling musical troupes. He also played his first dramatic roles and honed his character acting while he appeared with Robert Mott’s Pekin Theater in Chicago for four years until 1911. Soon after, he toured the United States with the Pan-American Octetts and spent some time with Rogers and Creamer’s Old Man’s Boy Company in New York. In 1915, Gilpin joined the Anita Bush Players as it moved from the Lincoln Theater in Harlem to the Lafayette Theater, a time when many famous black theatrical careers were launched.

In 1916, he made a memorable appearance in whiteface as Jacob McCloskey, a slave owner and villain of Don Bouciault’s The Octoroon. Though he left Bush’s Company over salary, his reputation while there allowed him to get the role of Rev. William Curtis in the 1919 premier of John Drinkwater’s Abraham Lincoln. On November 1, 1920 at the Playwright Theater in New
York’s Greenwich Village in the title role of Brutus Jones Gilpin moved, next, into Eugene O’Neill’s long one-act play, Emperor Jones, a role he played fro 204 performances until 1924 to great critical acclaim. The play and its principal actor later transferred to Broadway and later went on tour. His work with this production allowed the Drama League of New York to name Gilpin as one of the ten people who had done the most for American theater in 1920, the first Black American so honored.

After the post-Broadway tour, which played in Richmond to great acclaim, Gilpin’s insistence on eliminating racial epithets from the play angered O’Neill. O’Neill, who at one time was said to be writing a play especially for Gilpin, cast budding actor Paul Robeson in the London production of Emperor Jones. Robeson also played Jones on film. Except for Ira Aldridge, who lived and performed mostly in Europe before the Civil War, Gilpin was the first African American to be widely lauded as a serious actor on America’s mainstream stage.

His invitation to the league’s presentation dinner, however, created a public controversy that ended with his attendance. Following the Drama League’s refusal to rescind the invitation and Gilpin’s refusal to decline it, he was given a standing ovation of unusual length on accepting the award. A 1921 Spingarn recipient from the NAACP, Gilpin was also honored in the White House of President Warren G. Harding. A year later the Dumas Dramatic Club (now the Karamu Players) of Cleveland renamed itself the Gilpin Players in his Honor.
He lost his voice in 1929 and he died on May 6, 1030 in Eldridge Park, New Jersey.

Sallie Martin was born on this date. She was an African-American gospel singer and businesswoman.

From Pittfield, Georgia, after quitting school during the eighth grade, she moved to Atlanta, where she began a run of jobs including babysitting, cleaning houses and washing clothes. In 1916 she joined the Fire Baptized Holiness Church, enjoying the Sanctified singing she met there. During the 1920s, Martin, her husband and their son relocated to Chicago.

Following a 1929 divorce, she began working at a nearby hospital, in her off hours continuing to pursue her interest in gospel. Martin had heard (on the street) about Thomas A. Dorsey whose original gospel songs were electrifying the Chicago church culture. She arranged an audition; despite serious misgivings (her style was unrefined, with whooping, groaning and a great deal of physical movement and to top it off, she couldn’t even read music) he hired her.

In early 1932, Martin made her debut with his group at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. After a year she got her first solo, and Martin instantly connected with audiences. Dorsey became increasingly aware of her value not only as a performer but also as an entrepreneur. She took over his music store and within a few months was turning a neat profit. Their relationship was often adversarial, but respectful because neither could succeed without the other.

As gospel choruses instructed to sing Dorsey’s songs began saturating the Chicago area, Martin traveled to Cleveland in 1933 to organize a chorus there as well; she also helped set up similar groups throughout the South and Midwest. Martin and Dorsey organized the yearly National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses; she was its first vice president until the time of her death. In 1940, Martin went solo; teaming with a young pianist named Ruth Jones (Dinah Washington) and began touring the country.

That same year, Martin and gospel composer Kenneth Morris joined forces with financial backer Rev. Clarence H. Cobb to found Martin and Morris, Inc., a publishing company which became the biggest of its kind in the America. Martin next began performing with the gifted pianist and arranger Roberta Martin (no relation) that did not last. She next formed the Sallie Martin Singers; believed to be the first female group in gospel history, they existed until the mid-1950s. Despite her national renown, Martin had a few hits, however, among them “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” and “He’ll Wash You Whiter Than Snow.”

An active supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King, her involvement in the civil rights movement led to an invitation to attend the 1960 celebration marking the independence of Nigeria; Martin’s visit inspired her to donate to the Nigerian Health Program, resulting in a state office building named in her honor. Known as “The Mother of Gospel” by the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, Martin is widely credited with introducing spiritual music to the masses.

While her rough, voice lacked the finesse of many of the singers in her time, she was an artist who got respect from both her audiences and peers. An astute businesswoman and tireless supporter of charitable causes, she died in Chicago on June 18, 1988.

The Reverend Dr. Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray was born in Baltimore, MD. A lawyer, author of poetry such as “Song in a Weary Throat,” “Proud Shoes,” and “Dark Testament and Other Poems,” she also became a powerful theologian and the first African American woman priest to be ordained in the Episcopal Church.

While in this life she was a remarkably diverse woman who was a pioneer for her gender in a number of areas. From Baltimore, her academic background began at Hunter College (B. A., 1933), Howard University Law School (LL. B., 1944); the University of California Berkeley (LL. M., 1945), and Yale Law School, she was the first black woman to receive a degree of doctor of juridical science in 1965. While in her various studies, Murray maintained several careers.

She served as deputy attorney general of California in 1946, the first black to hold that position. From 1968-1973, she was professor of American studies at Bandies University, and from 1977 to 1984 (when she retired from public life) she was the first black woman Episcopal priest; serving in Washington and Baltimore. Murray’s published writings include State’s Laws on Race and Color 1951, Dark Treatment and Other Poems 1970, Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage 1987, and more.

Murray was named Woman of the Year in 1946 by the National Council of Colored Women and again in 1947 by Mademoiselle Magazine. Serving as one of the thirty-two founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966, she won the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the Professional Woman’s Caucus in 1971. Pauli Murray died of cancer in Pittsburgh on July 1, 1985.

Jane Cooke Wright is born in New York City, one of two daughters of Dr. Louis Tompkins Wright and Corinne Cook Wright. Her father was a physician who practiced in New York City and later established the Cancer Research Foundation at Harlem Hospital. She will live in New York City until 1938 when she leaves to enroll in Smith College. She will begin college intending to major in art, but will switch to pre-medicine. She will graduate from Smith in 1942, one of only two graduates in that class later accepted to medical school. She will bring the field of chemotherapy to the forefront of cancer treatment, publishing over 130 papers. Her research team will focus on the investigation of a wide variety of anticancer drugs and develop procedures for the sequential use of these drugs in cancer treatment. She will be awarded a full scholarship to New York Medical School and receive an M.D. degree upon graduating with honors, third in her class. In 1945, she will intern at Bellevue Hospital, followed by two residencies at Harlem Hospital. At this point, she will set up private practice since no medical institution will offer her a position. In 1949 she will join the medical staff at the Cancer Research Foundation at Harlem Hospital as a clinician and research scientist and begin her work in cancer research. After her father joins the ancestors in 1952, she will become director of the foundation. In 1955 she will move to New York University Medical Center as director of cancer chemotherapy research and instructor of research surgery. In 1964, she will be appointed to President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke. Her subcommittee’s recommendation to develop regional centers will be an important outcome of this commission. By 1967, Jane Wright will be promoted to associate dean and professor of surgery at NYU Medical Center where she will continue to be active in research until retiring in 1987. Her honors will include the Spirit of Achievement Award of the Women’s Division of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (1965); the Hadassah Myrtle Wreath (1967); the Smith Medal from Smith College (1968); featured by Ciba Geigy on its Exceptional Black Scientist poster (1980); and be honored by the American Association for Cancer Research (1975). She will receive several honorary degrees and serve on boards of trustees for various organizations.

The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is awarded to Mary B. Talbert, the former president of the National Association of Colored Women, for service to African American women and for the restoration of the Frederick Douglas home in Southeast Washington, DC.

On the verge of invoking marshal law over the growth and energetic outreach and influence of the Ku Klu Klan to “officers of law and justice,” the governor of Louisiana, John Milliken Parker, conferred with President Warren G. Harding.

Garrett A. Morgan, inventor and engineer, received a patent for his three-way traffic signal on this date. It was one of the first traffic signals in the United States. Morgan later had his technology patented in Great Britain and Canada. The signal, a red, green, and amber light to direct traffic to stop, proceed with caution, or go, revolutionized traffic control. This complex device saved many lives by directing the flow of automobiles on city streets. General Electric bought Morgan’s patent for $40,000, and his traffic management device was used throughout North America until it was replaced by the red, yellow and green-light traffic signals. Today, traffic lights throughout the world work on a red, amber, and green pattern, with some variations. Morgan was born in Paris, NY on March 4, 1877 and attended elementary school whole he worked with his brothers and sisters on the family farm. He left Kentucky while still a teenager and moved north to Cincinnati in search of employment. His formal education ended after elementary school. However, he hired a tutor and continued his studies in English grammar. Shortly before his death in 1963, Morgan was awarded a citation for the traffic signal by the United States government. Patent #1,475,024. Some of his other inventions were a hair-straightening process and the gas mask.

Morgan State College was founded on this date in Baltimore, Maryland, succeeding Morgan State Biblical College, founded in 1857. It is one of over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America.

The school actually began in 1867 as the Centenary Biblical Institute. This happened through the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, whose original mission was to train young men in ministry. This goal was broadened to educate both men and women as teachers. The school was renamed Morgan College in 1890 in honor of the Reverend Lyttleton Morgan, the first chairman of its Board of Trustees, who donated land to the college. Morgan awarded its first baccalaureate degree to George F. McMechen in 1895.

In 1915 Andrew Carnegie gave the school a conditional grant of $50,000 for the central academic building. The terms of the grant were met and the college moved to its present site in northeast Baltimore in 1917. Carnegie Hall, the oldest original building on the present MSU campus, was erected two years later. Morgan remained a private institution until 1939. That year, the state of Maryland purchased the school to provide more opportunities for its Black citizens.

From its beginnings as a public campus, Morgan was open to students of all races. By the time it became a public campus, the College had become a relatively inclusive institution. Until the mid-1960s, when the state’s teachers colleges began their transition to liberal arts campuses, Morgan and the University of Maryland College Park were the only two public campuses in the state with inclusive missions. In 1975 the State Legislature designated Morgan as a university, gave it the authority to offer doctorates, and provided for it to once again have its own governing board.

In 1988 Maryland reorganized its higher education structure and strengthened its coordinating board, the Higher Education Commission. The campuses in the state college system became part of the University of Maryland System. Morgan and St. Mary’s College of Maryland were the only public baccalaureate-granting institutions authorized to have their own governing boards. The legislation also strengthened Morgan’s authority to offer advanced programs and designated the campus as Maryland’s Public Urban University.

President John F. Kennedy issues an executive order barring racial discrimination in federally financed housing.

The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is awarded to Robert C. Weaver, economist and government official, for his leadership in the movement for open housing.

Pelé, the Brazilian soccer star, scores his 1,000th soccer goal.

The gravesite of Mary Seacole, a Jamaican nurse who served in the Crimean War, is restored in England. Traveling to the battlefield at her own expense, when her expert services are rejected by English authorities and Florence Nightingale, Seacole opens her own nursing hotel, which she operates by day, serving as a volunteer with Nightingale at night. Seacole’s skills saved the lives of many soldiers wounded during the war or infected with malaria, cholera, yellow fever, and other illnesses.

Three-time Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes is born in Silver Spring, Maryland. She will win an Olympic gold medal and two bronze medals. She will also win more national titles than any other gymnast-male or female.

Walter Payton, of the Chicago Bears, rushes for NFL record 275 yards in one game.

The Negro Ensemble Company’s production of Charles Fuller’s “A Soldier’s Play” opens the Theatre Four. The play will win a New York Drama Critics Award for best American play and the Pulitzer Prize.

On this date, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of reverse discrimination suits.

The Supreme Court at that time was moving in a generally conservative direction after President Ronald Reagan promoted William H. Rehnquist from associate to chief justice in 1986. With three other Reagan appointees usually voting with him, Rehnquist was able to overturn some important precedents.

Under Rehnquist, the Court made it clear that it would take a dim view of most affirmative action policies.

A.C. Green sets the NBA “Iron Man” record for consecutive games played at 907 games. The previous record had stood for fifteen years. Iron Men from professional baseball and professional hockey were present at courtside to observe the record-breaking performance.

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