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Sarah Moore Grimke was born on this date. She was American abolitionist and advocate of women’s rights.

From Charleston, South Carolina, she came from a distinguished Southern family. On a visit to Philadelphia, Grimke joined the Society of Friends. She converted her younger sister Angelina to the Quaker faith, and the two moved to the North permanently in January 1832. Angelina became an abolitionist in 1835 and in turn converted Sarah.

These two timid daughters of an aristocratic slave holding family became the first women who dared to speak in public for the Black slave and then for women’s rights. Sarah wrote An Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States 1836, urging abolition, and Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Woman 1838. In 1838 the sisters persuaded their mother to give them, as their share of the family estate, slaves, whom they immediately freed.

Sarah Grimke died December 23, 1873 in Hyde Park, Massachusetts.

Macon B. Allen is elected judge of the Lower Court of Charleston, South Carolina. Allen, the first African American lawyer, becomes the second African American to hold a major judicial position and the first African American with a major judicial position on the municipal level.

This date marks the birth of “Major” Taylor. He was an African-American cyclist and one of the preeminent American sports pioneers of the twentieth century.

Marshall Walter Taylor was born on the outskirts of Indianapolis on November 26th. He was one of eight children, raised in humble, rural poverty not far from the noise and bustle of a rapidly expanding industrial city. At the age of thirteen with the bicycle given to him from a friend, Marshall began to earn his first few dollars delivering newspapers. Taylor then worked in a bicycle shop doing repairs, teaching customers how to ride a bicycle, and doing exhibitions and tricks after regular working hours.

He first appeared as an amateur in races around Indianapolis and Chicago and later in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. Soon recognized as the “colored Sprint Champion of America”, he turned professional and astonished everyone. He continued to work at the bike shop until prominent bicycle racer “Birdie” Munger coached him for his first professional racing success in 1896. Despite continuous bureaucracy and at times, physical opposition, he won his first national championship two years later and became world champion in 1899 in Montreal and American sprint champion in 1899 and 1900.

He broke a series of world records and in 1901 received acclaim during a triumphant tour of Europe, the most international tour of European countries ever undertaken by a black American athlete. Against the best bicycle racers of the world, he enjoyed a position of unequaled supremacy. Taylor was the world fastest bicycle racer for twelve years. Bicycle track racing between 1890 and 1910 was as popular as any today’s major sports. At a time when black people were expected to know their place and not to challenge the dominance of Whites, the success of this determined youngster came as a disturbing shock, and his astounding athletic speed as a revelation.

He was almost certainly the first black athlete to have a commercial sponsor and the first to establish world records. He was also a representative of Black America abroad at a time when many people in Europe had never seen a Black person. In a world without cars, motorcycles or airplanes, racing cyclists were the fastest humans on earth. They were heroic and glamorous figures. When Marshall Taylor died penniless in 1932 in Chicago at the height of the Depression, he was buried in a pauper’s grave. He was reburied in 1948 and his achievements praised at a Chicago memorial ceremony.

Sojourner Truth, Civil War heroine, women’s rights advocate, poet, freedom fighter, and abolitionist, died in Battle Creek, Michigan on this date at the age of 86. Born a slave in Hurley, NY, she acquired her freedom when slavery was outlawed there in 1827. In June of 1843, she changed her name from Isabella to Sojourner Truth and became a prominent anti-slavery speaker and an advocate for women’s suffrage. During the Civil War, she helped care for wounded soldiers and newly emancipated slaves. In an audience with President Abraham Lincoln, she urged him to call to arms the free Blacks of the North to fight for the Union. After that was done, she urged the freedmen to develop land ownership and to obtain an education. She also advocated rehabilitating former slaves on public lands.

Savannah State College is founded in Savannah, Georgia.

On this date, National Negro Medical Association (NNMA) was founded. Consisting of three major Black medical professions, they were originally called the National Negro Medical Association of Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists.

Meharry and Howard University faculty and alumni were instrumental in their establishment. The NNMA consisted of skilled organizations and a supportive social network for African-American dentists. They were both involved in the initial inclusion of dentists in the National Negro Medical Association, various regional and state dental associations, and the later development of their own professional association, the National Dental Association (not to be confused with the earlier National Dental Association would become the (ADA).

At the turn of the twentieth century they became the National Medical Association, The NMA’s manifesto was written by C. V. Roman and adopted in 1908, it reads as follows: Conceived in no spirit of racial exclusiveness, fostering no ethnic antagonism, but born of the exigencies of American environment, the National Medical Association has for its object the banding together for mutual cooperation and helpfulness, the men and women of African decent who are legally and honorably engaged in the practice of the cognate professions of medicine, surgery, pharmacy and dentistry. Currently still going strong, the NMA is located in Washington, DC.

26 (or 27), 1907
The birth of Rudolph Dunbar is celebrated on this date. He was a Guyanese conductor, clarinetist, and composer.

Dunbar was born in Nabaclis, British Guyana. Dunbar was fourteen when he joined the British Guiana Militia Band as an apprentice, playing the clarinet. After five years, he immigrated to the United States and began studying at the Institute of Musical Art, (now the Juilliard School) in New York. While in New York he was also involved with the Harlem jazz scene. During this time he was a recording artiste, playing clarinet solos. He also established a friendship with black composer William Grant Still.

After graduating in 1925, Dunbar moved to Paris, where he established himself as a clarinetist of the highest order. And in 1931, he moved to London, where he worked as a music critic and also started a clarinet school, which attracted students from around the world. In 1939 he was commissioned to write a textbook on the clarinet, and his Treatise on the Clarinet (Boehm System) became an important reference work for the instrument. It remained in print through ten editions.

Dunbar promoted the performance of the music of many black composers. He played alongside Still in the Harlem Orchestra around 1924, and the autograph of Still’s Festive Overture of 1944 is dedicated “To my dear friend, Rudolph Dunbar.” He was the youngest of any race to conduct the London Philharmonic and the first black man to do so. He also was the first black man to conduct an orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

During the Second World War, Dunbar became the war correspondent in Europe for the Associated Negro Press of Chicago, but had to flee Germany and return to London. He returned to Germany shortly after the War and led the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra in battledress as its first post-War guest conductor. This performance made him the first black man to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic (1945).

He lived most of his later life in London, which is where he died on June 10, 1988.

William Henry Lewis was appointed assistant attorney general of the United States by President William Howard Taft, making him the first Black appointed to a sub-cabinet post.

Annie Mae Bullock (better known as Tina Turner) is born in Nutbush, Tennessee. She will meet Ike Turner in the early 1950’s at a St. Louis, Missouri club. Soon after, she will begin singing with his band on occasional engagements, and in 1959, form the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. After separating from Ike and the band, she will build an even more successful career on her own, which will include the multi-platinum album, “Private Dancer,” hit singles such as “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, “Private Dancer,” and “Proud Mary,” and win five Grammy awards. She will also have roles in the movies “Tommy” and “Mad Max=Beyond the Thunderdome”, for which she will sing the lead song.

O.J. Simpson is named Heisman Trophy winner for 1968. A running back for the University of Southern California, Simpson amassed a total of 3,187 yards in 18 games and scored 33 touchdowns in two seasons. He will play professional football with the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers and be equally well known as a sportscaster and actor.

Kara Walker was born on this date. She is an African-American contemporary artist known for her exploration of race, gender, sexuality, and identity in her works.

From Stockton, California, her father was both a painter and a teacher. Walker’s education includes an MFA at Rhode Island School of Design in Painting/Printmaking, and a BFA in Painting/Printmaking at Atlanta College of Art. Some of Walker’s exhibitions have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Walker has also been shown internationally and featured on television.

Walker’s silhouette images work to bridge unfinished folklore in Antebellum South, raising identity and gender issues for African American women in particular. Because of her truthful approach to the topic, Walker’s nightmarish yet fantastical images incorporate a cinematic feel. She uses images from historical textbooks to show how white people depicted African slaves during slavery.

Some of her images are almost grotesque, for example, in The Battle of Atlanta, a white man, presumably a Southern soldier, is raping a Negro girl while her brother watches in shock, a white child is about to insert his sword into a nearly-lynched black woman’s vagina, and a male Black slave rains tears all over an adolescent white boy. She began exhibiting in 1991 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Her work has since been witnessed internationally in exhibitions such as La Belle et La Bête, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1995); Conceal/Reveal at SITE Santa Fe; New Histories, Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston (1996); no place (like home), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1997); Global Vision: New Art from the ’90s, Deste Foundation, Athens; Secret Victorians, Contemporary Artists and a 19th-Century Vision, Hayward Gallery for the Arts Council of England, London (1998), which also appeared at Armand Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles (1999); and Other Narratives, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (1999). Numerous solo shows of Walker’s work have been presented, including those at Wooster Gardens/Brent Sikkema, New York (1995, 1996, and 1998); Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (1997); California College of Arts and Crafts; and Oliver Art Center, Oakland (1999). In 1997 Walker received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant.

Walker has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions. Her recent solo museum shows include The Hanover Kunstverien (2002), The Deutsche Guggenheim (2002), University of Michigan Museum of Art (2002) and The Tang Museum/Williams College Museum (2003). A book accompanied each of these exhibitions, most recently Narratives of a Negress (MIT Press). Recently her work was seen in the Centro Nazionale per le Arti Contemporanee, Rome (Fall 2003). She has exhibited at the Tate Liverpool (2004) and the Walker Art Center (2005). Walker lives in New York and is on the faculty of the MFA program at Columbia University.

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., the first African American general in the U.S military, joins the ancestors at the age of 93 in Chicago, Illinois.

Charles Gordone is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his play, “No Place To Be Somebody.”

Painter, Jacob Lawrence is awarded the Spingarn Medal “in tribute to the compelling power of his work which has opened to the world...a window on the Negro’s condition in the United States” and “in salute to his unswerving commitment” to the Black struggle.

Wendell Smith, columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier, a weekly publication, died on this date. Smith is, perhaps, best known for his role in helping to get Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball.

Scatman Crothers, actor, who is best known for his role as “Louie” on TV’s “Chico & the Man”, joins the ancestors at the age of 76.

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