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The thirty-five liberators of the ship Amistad set sail for Africa aboard the Gentleman.

The French novelist and playwright Alexandre Dumas died.

On this date, Andrew Beard received a patent for a device he called the Jenny Coupler. The Jenny Coupler automatically joined cars by simply allowing them to bump into each other, or as Beard described it the “horizontal jaws engage each other to connect the cars.” This African-American inventor sold the rights to his design for $50,000.00 and the railroad industry was revolutionized.

On this date, Eddie South was born. He was an African-American jazz violinist. From Louisiana, Missouri, a child prodigy, South graduated from the Chicago Music College.

At the time, classical positions were not open to Black violinists in the 1920s, so South learned to play jazz (helped out by Darnell Howard). In the early to mid-1920s, he worked in Chicago with Jimmy Wade’s Syncopators, Charles Elgar and Erskine Tate. In 1928, a visit to Europe (where he studied at the Paris Conservatoire) made a deep impression on the violinist, particularly Budapest; later on, he would often utilize gypsy melodies as a basis for jazz improvising.

In 1931, South returned to Chicago, where his regular band included bassist Milt Hinton. In 1937, while in Paris he recorded with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. South never had a major breakthrough commercially in his American career. Classically trained, fluent in several styles including swing, gypsy and Latin; he favored a warm, lyrical sound; popular in Europe, where racial discrimination did not hinder his style.

He did work on radio and television but spent most of his life in relative obscurity, playing in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In later years he recorded for Chess and Mercury, and also made a final set released by Trip. South’s other early recordings (covering 1927-41) have been reissued on a pair of Classics CDs. One of the top violinists of the pre-bop era South was a brilliant technician who, were it not for the universal racism of the time, would probably have been a top classical violinist.

Eddie South died on April 25, 1962 in Chicago, Illinois.

Marjorie Joyner patented a permanent wave machine which could wave the hair of both white and Black people. Marjorie Joyner was employed by the Madame C.J. Walker Cosmetic Company and assigned her patent rights to that company. Madame C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, invented hair creams to soften the hair and a hair styling hot comb. She also developed other lotions and creams for which she acquired trademarks. U.S. Patent #1,693,515.

Albert “Al” Sampson was born on this date. He is an African-American activist and minister.

From Everett, Massachusetts, he graduated from Everett High School in 1956 where he won the high school oratorical contest his senior year. While attending Shaw University, he Called to the ministry and received his B.A. in 1963. During that time, Sampson was president of the Shaw student body and the campus, city and state chapters of the NAACP. He was arrested during Raleigh’s student sit-ins and was selected by his fellow students to introduce the first public accommodations bill in North Carolina history.

He became involved with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1962 and served as campaign manager for Leroy Johnson, Georgia’s first black state senator. Sampson was ordained by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1966. He earned his master’s degree in cultural studies from Governors State University in 1973 and his master’s of divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1977. He also worked with the Reverend James Bevel to help organize Resurrection City for King’s Poor People’s Campaign.

He was also Martin Luther King’s National Housing Director where he went to Europe to look at Industrial Housing Systems, and brought the first model affordable home to Chicago’s west side in a joint venture with the Amish Community of Nappannee, Indiana. Reverend Sampson became pastor of Fernwood United Methodist Church in Chicago in 1975, where he continues today. He played an important role in the campaign of the Mayor Harold Washington as a member of the Task Force for Black Political Empowerment.

Sampson is president of the National Black Farmers Harvest and Business Trade Cooperative and serves on numerous boards and organizations that stress the economic development of the Black community. Sampson is a former Board Member of the largest black-owned bank in America, and held the position of International Vice-President for Training Allied Workers International Union (the only Black independent union recognized by the US Labor Dept.).

He’s listed in “Who’s Who Among Black Americans” (1989-1995) and was one of the Spokespersons for the first Million Man March in 1995. He served as a scholar consultant for the Black Heritage Bible and is currently the president of the Metropolitan Council of Black Churches in Chicago.

Jimi Hendrix was born on this date in 1942. He was an African-American blues and rock guitarist known for his innovative playing of the electric guitar and as a symbol of the 1960s youth counterculture.

Johnny Allen Hendrix, in Seattle, Washington, Hendrix’s father, James “Al” Hendrix, later changes his son’s name to James Marshall. James Marshall Hendrix eventually became known as Jimi Hendrix. He was of mixed African and Cherokee American ancestry. Hendrix taught himself to play the guitar and while in high school joined a rhythm and blues band that performed locally. From 1962 to 1965 he traveled throughout the United States as a lead guitarist for several rhythm and blues artists. In 1966, while leading his own band in Greenwich Village in New York City, where he had attracted a small following, Hendrix was noticed by British rock musician Chas Chandler, who took him to London and introduced him to Noel Redding, a bass player, and Mitch Mitchell, a drummer.

As a trio, they formed the group called The Jimi Hendrix Experience. With this group Hendrix rapidly became popular in Europe, and his reputation preceded his return to the United States. His appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 was a watershed of his career. Also a point of reference that year was the success of his album Are You Experienced? These two events lifted him to instant rock stardom. Another album, Electric Ladyland (1968), was one of the most influential rock records of the 1960s.

Hendrix was an outstanding blues guitarist working in a rock idiom. The melodic lines of his extended solos were alternately ragged, soaring, or rhythmically driving, while his phrasing was augmented by the use of extremely high volume and electronic distortion. His playing had a sensuous, exotic quality that was original and instantly recognizable
. His music will influence such groups as “Earth, Wind, and Fire,” “Living Colour,” and “Sting.”

Jimi Hendrix died during his third European tour of complications resulting from an apparent overdose of barbiturates on September 18th, 1970 in London, England.

“Mickey” Leland was born this date. He was an African-American politician and activist.

Born in Lubbock, Texas,
George Thomas Mickey Leland grew up in Houston. In 1970 he received a B.S. degree in pharmacy from Texas Southern University in and was an instructor of clinical pharmacy at the same school. As a student he also was involved in the civil rights movement. Leland first ran for public office in 1972 when he won election as a representative to the Texas state legislature.

He also became involved with party politics as a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1976 to 1985. He served as a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention in 1974. After winning a plurality in the Democratic primary of 1978, Leland won the run off and in November. He succeeded Barbara Jordan as representative from the Eighteenth District of Texas. Throughout his terms in Congress Leland served on a number of committee’s. The Interstate and Foreign Commerce (later Energy and Commerce) Committee, the Post Office and Civil Service Committee and was chairman of the Subcommittee on Postal Operations and Services. Leland served on the Committee on the District of Columbia in the Ninety-sixth through Ninety-ninth Congresses.

Mickey Leland was instrumental in establishing the Select committee on Hunger in 1984 and served as chairman through the remainder of his term. In addition to his regular cabinet responsibilities, Leland was chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus for the Ninety-ninth Congress. He also successfully urged passage of stronger sanctions against the South African government. In the summer of 1989, Leland, as he often had before, traveled to Ethiopia to visit a United Nations refugee camp.

Sadly, on August 7 a plane carrying Leland, congressional staff members, State Department officials, and Ethiopian escorts crashed in a mountainous region near Gambela, Ethiopia, killing all on board. In his six terms as a representative from Texas, Mickey Leland emerged as a national spokesman for the problems of hunger in the United States and throughout the world.

Federal troops left Little Rock, AR.

Sixteen-year-old Hosea Richardson becomes the first licensed African American jockey to ride on the Florida circuit.

Dorothy Irene Height, YMCA official, is elected president of the National Council of Negro Women.

Robin Givens was born in New York City. She became a model and actress and gained national prominence as a regular in the TV series “Head of the Class,” where from 1986 through 1991, she played Darlene Merriman, a prep-school type attending a high school honors program. Though she was but one of an ensemble, Givens’s participation in the series was hyped by the network on the occasion of her marriage to boxing champ Mike Tyson. The marriage ended in divorce, after only a few years, amidst accusations of brutality and infidelity. Givens has proven she is not merely an adjunct to Mike Tyson’s fame with excellent performances in such TV and movie projects as The Women of Brewster Place (1989) and A Rage in Harlem (1991), and the TV series Courthouse. She also starred in “Michael Jordan: An American Hero,” “Blankman,” “Foreign Student,” “Boomerang,” and “Beverly Hills Madam.”

Eldridge Cleaver, Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party, becomes a fugitive from justice as a parole violator.

Jaleel White was born on this date in Pasadena, California. He started acting in commercials for Jack In The Box and other companies at the age of 3. His first television role was on CBS’s The Jeffersons in 1985. Jaleel White is best remembered as being the ever annoying and loveable Steve Urkel for Warner Brother’s hit series Family Matters.

Jennifer Karen Lawson assumes her duties as Executive Vice President for National Programming and Promotion Services at the Public Broadcasting Service. The Alabama native is the chief programming executive for PBS, determining which programs are seen on the network. She is the first woman to hold such a position at a major television network.

Charles Johnson wins the National Book Award for his novel “Middle Passage,” a novel about the adventures of a freed slave.  He is the fourth African American to win the award, formerly called the American Book Award.

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