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On this date, we recall the birth of Pierce C. Landry. He was a Black editor, chef, politician, and lawyer.

The slave son of his owner, Landry was born in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. As a young boy, he lived with a local free Black couple, attended a school for free Blacks on his father/owner’s plantation, and learned the skills to become a chef. Upon the death of his owner in 1854, Landry was sold as part of a disposition of the estate. With his new owner, he served as property superintendent, pastry chef, and plantation store manager.

He also put together a wool yard and contracted to do ditch digging. During and after reconstruction, Landry held several offices in Ascension Parish. He was elected mayor of Donaldsonville in 1868, two years later he elected president of their police jury and appointed tax collector. Other offices Landry held in Donaldsonville were justice of the peace, president of the school board, and postmaster. He served in the statehouse of Representatives from 1872-74 and 1880-84, in the Senate from 1874-78.

In 1877, he edited the Donaldsonville Monthly Record. Though he was raised a Roman Catholic, Landry converted to Methodism in 1862 and founded a Methodist church in his hometown. After reconstruction, he moved to New Orleans where he was minister of an African Methodist Episcopal church. There he also practiced law and was on the board of trustees of New Orleans University. Pierce Landry died in 1921.

The Louisiana constitutional convention (forty-nine white delegates and forty-nine African American delegates) meets in Mechanics Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana.

John Lee Love of Fall River, MA receives a patent for the improved pencil sharpener (also know as the “Love Sharpener”). It was a very simple and portable pencil sharpener. The same kind of pencil sharpener that many artists use or that can be found in an office or school room.

In John Lee Love's invention the pencil is put into the opening of the sharpener and rotated by hand. It was designed so that the shavings would stay inside the sharpener. It is interesting to note that while the patent drawing depicts the Love Sharpener as being quite plain. John Lee Love wrote that it could also be designed in a very ornate fashion and that his pencil sharpener could also be used as a desk ornament or paperweight. Patent #594,114.

Despite having no formal education in engineering or metalwork, Andrew Jackson Beard invented and received a patent for an automatic railroad car coupling device called the “jerry coupler,” still is use today to connect railroad cars. Prior to the “jerry coupler” train cars were joined together manually, causing thousands of railroad workers to lose their hands, arms, and even their lives. Born in Eastlake, Alabama, in 1850, Beard labored for years in railroad yards where he personally witnessed horrific accidents when workers tried to execute the rapid procedure of manually coupling train cars with a pin. Beard sold his lifesaving invention to a New York company for $50,000. Patent #594,059.

Henry Watson Furness, an Indiana physician, is named minister to Haiti. He will be the last African American minister to Haiti during this period in history. Woodrow Wilson appointed a white minister in 1913.

Alice Freeman Palmer Institute in Sedalia, North Carolina, founded by Charlotte Hawkins Brown, was renamed and incorporated as Palmer Memorial Institute.

Dorothy Sterling was born on this date. She is a Jewish-American writer, journalist, and historian.

From New York City, she grew up in Manhattan; started Wellesley College at the age of 16 and received her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in 1934. After graduating, she worked as an editor and author of the weekly column, “Paris Notes,” for Art News and as a writer for the Federal Writers Project in New York. In 1937, she married Phillip Sterling, who was also a writer. From 1941 to 1949, she was a researcher for Life magazine. Her first book, Sophie and Her Puppies, a photo essay, was published in 1951, was followed by four others like it yet Sterling still did not consider herself a writer.

It was at this time that she decided to write a book about women that would “empower girls.” Her research on Harriet Tubman at the Schomberg Collection in New York City presented the opportunity of writing biographies about famous African-Americans. Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman was published in 1954. During this time Sterling served as a consulting editor on Black history for Firebird Books, Scholastic, Beacon Press, and Doubleday. She is an active member of the NAACP and many of her books focus on black history, the civil rights movement, and African-American biographies.

Sterling is the author of more than 30 books, including We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century.

R.L. Burnside was born on this date. He was an African-American blues musician.

From Oxford, Mississippi he began playing music at age 16, learning from such Delta Blues men, as Mississippi Fred McDowell and Muddy Waters. Burnside started out on the harmonica but soon switched to the guitar. As a child, his family moved to Holly-Springs, Mississippi, where he has remained ever since. R.L. began singing and playing the blues in the 1950’s at local jukes, dances and parties. He worked on farms or as a fisherman most of the time.

He traveled through the Delta working and playing the blues and returned to his home in 1959 to settle down and raise a very large family. In 1967, blues researcher George Mitchell recorded Burnside and the songs eventually wound up on the Arhoolie label compilation album. This allowed R.L. to tour Europe in 1971 for the first time. He recorded albums for Europe-based labels Swingmaster, Arion, and Vogue.

He continued on the road sporadically through the 80’s and in 1992 he appeared in the documentary Deep Blues. This exposed him to a new audience with the release of the soundtrack. He then released the album Bad Luck City in 1993. The band R.L. worked with included most of his family. All of Burnside’s eight sons play in the band called the Sound Machine. Burnside recently recorded two albums for the Fat Possum label called Too Bad Jim and The Wizard.

His down-home country flavor of blues with loud guitar amplification created a unique raw sound that new generations of blues-rock lovers have discovered. Burnside was a gifted musician, songwriter, and storyteller who at his best just played his guitar and used a microphone, talking and playing, and giving the audience a real taste of old time blues.

Equally he was the consummate guitarist, delivering hot electric blues with the RL Burnside’s signature. He was also influenced by the country styles of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and John Lee Hooker. R.L. Burnside died on September 2, 2005.

“Imitation of Life” premieres in New York City. Starring Claudette Colbert, Louise Beavers, and Fredi Washington, it is the story of a white woman and an African American woman who build a pancake business while the latter’s daughter makes a desperate attempt to pass for white.

Betty Everett was born on this date. She was an African-American rhythm & blues singer.

From Greenwood, Mississippi, she began playing the piano and singing in church at age. Everett moved to Chicago during the late 50s, it was a very busy city even during the fifties and because of its overpopulation it was very hard for her during her first years. As a teenager, she performed with Muddy Waters and Magic Sam, and recorded for several local labels, including Cobra and Onederful; but her big hits came when she signed with VeeJay Records.

Everett recorded The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss) in the spring of 1964 it was a top ten song. Other songs like I Can’t Hear You and Getting Mighty Crowded were not as successful. She sang a duet with Jerry Butler, and Let It Be Me also made the top ten that year. There were other Betty Everett/Jerry Butler duets, their single Smile and their LP, Delicious Together. There’ll Come A Time was her first entry in the soul charts, and it made number two. It was also her last top forty hit. Everett had five more songs to make the soul charts on Uni and Fantasy label by 1971.

She received the BMI Pop Award in 1964 and 1991 and the BMI R&B Award in 1964. Everett made a successful tour of England in the mid-60s. In 1969, ‘There’ll Come A Time’ reached number 2 in the R & B charts, a momentum that continued into the early 70s. Everett’s last chart entry was in 1978 with ‘True Love (You Took My Heart)’. Cher took her version of ‘The Shoop Shoop Song’ to the top of the charts in 1991. Betty Everett died on August 21st, 2001.

Andrew Goodman was born on this date. He was a Jewish-American civil rights activist.

From a well-known liberal New York City household his family’s friends included Alger Hiss and Zero Mostel. While studying at Queens College, Goodman joined the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and volunteered to take part in its Freedom Summer campaign. Goodman was sent to Meridian, Mississippi, and on June 21st, 1964, he and two of his friends, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, went to Longdale to visit Mt. Zion Methodist Church, a building that had been fire-bombed by the Ku Klux Klan because it was going to be used as a Freedom School.

On the way back to the CORE office in Meridian, Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price arrested them. Later that evening they were released from the Neshoba jail only to be stopped again on a rural road where a white mob shot them to death and buried them in an earthen dam. When Attorney General Robert Kennedy heard that the men were missing, he arranged for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to go to Mississippi for answers. On August 4th of that year agents found their bodies buried at Old Jolly Farm.

In October, Ku Klux Klan member, James Jordon agreed to co-operate with the investigation. Eventually nineteen men are arrested and charged with violating the civil rights of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney; including Sheriff Lawrence Rainey and Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price. On February 24th, 1967, Judge William Cox dismissed seventeen of the nineteen indictments. The Supreme Court overruled him and the Mississippi Burning Trial started in October 1967.

On October 21st, 1967, seven of the men were found guilty of conspiring to deprive Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney of their civil rights and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to ten years; but Sheriff Lawrence Rainey was acquitted.

Mike Garrett, a University of Southern California running back with 4,876 total yards and 3,221 yards rushing, is announced as the Downtown Athletic Club’s Heisman Trophy winner of 1965. He is the University of Southern California’s first Heisman Trophy winner. He will go on to play eight years in the pros, first with the Kansas City Chiefs and later with the San Diego Chargers, and be elected to the National Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

One thousand persons from twenty five states gather in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and form the National Black Independent Party.

Desmond Tutu was elected as the first Black Bishop of Johannesburg, South Africa on this date.

Al Raby, the civil rights leader who convinced Martin Luther King, Jr. to bring his movement to Chicago, joins the ancestors succumbing to a heart attack.

South African President Pieter Botha gives a reprieve to the Sharpeville Six.

The Piano Lesson, a play by August Wilson, wins the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Evander Holyfield retains the heavyweight boxing title, by KO over Bert Cooper in the seventh round.

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