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1841
Abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond returns to the United States after a year and a half in Great Britain. He had been serving as a delegate to the world Anti-Slavery Convention in London. He brings with him an “Address from the People of Ireland” including 60,000 signatures urging Irish-Americans to “oppose slavery by peaceful means and to insist upon liberty for all regardless of color, creed, or country.”


1843
The Society of Colored People in Baltimore is the first African American Catholic association whose documentation has been preserved. Their notebook will begin on this date and continue until September 7, 1845.


1847
Frederick Augustus Douglass and Martin Robinson Delaney began the publication of the anti-slavery weekly “The North Star” newspaper, with financial backing received from Douglass’ English friends. The publication began in Rochester, NY. Douglass vowed to plead the cause of he Negro before all else. It was one of the leading abolitionist newspapers of its day.


1851
Myrtilla Miller opened the Colored Girls School in Washington, DC on this date. Primary education and domestic skills were taught. After the school was renamed, it merged with Wilson Teacher’s College and is now the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).


1864
The Twenty-Fifth Corps, the largest all African American unit in the history of the U.S. Army, is established by General Order #297 of the War Department, Adjutant General’s Office. The Colored Troops of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina were organized into the Twenty-Fifth Corps under the command of Major General G. Weitzel.


1866
John Swett Rock, a Massachusetts lawyer and dentist joins the ancestors. He had become the first African American certified to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase appointed Dr. Rock to present cases before the Supreme Court on December 31, 1865.


1867
Virginia constitutional convention (twenty-five Blacks and eighty Whites) met in Richmond. Because of Political and legal complications, the Virginia constitution was not adopted until July 6, 1869.


1868
The trial of ex-Confederacy president, Jefferson Davis starts, marking the first United States trial with African Americans included in the jury.


1882
The birth of John Wesley Dobbs is celebrated on this date. He was an African-American postal clerk, civic leader, and activist.

Often called the Unofficial “Mayor” of Auburn Avenue, Dobbs was born in Marietta, Georgia. In 1897 he came to Atlanta, worked at a drugstore, and attended Atlanta Baptist College (Morehouse College). In 1903, Dobbs passed the US Postal Exam to become a postal clerk and assumed a highly respected position for a Black man at the turn of the century. Three years later he married Irene Ophelia Thompson, together they would have six daughters.

In 1911, Dobbs was initiated into the Prince Hall Masons where within three years he would become their Grand Warden. In 1932 he became Grand Master of the Prince Hall Masons. Over the next thirty years Dobbs was active as a speaker for the equality of Black America. In 1936, he spoke for 2 hours at big Bethal AME church to awaken the political conscience of Atlanta’s 90,000 Blacks. He proposed that night to organize the Atlanta Civic and Political League to register 10,000 voters. In 1946, he was active in the formation of the Atlanta Negro Voters League (ANVL) This organization gathered 18,000 votes in 51 days- enough votes to convince Mayor Hartsfield to hire 8 Black policemen.

In 1948 Dobbs and Mayor Hartsfield had the City of Atlanta Police force integrated with 8 Black police officers. Though they were stationed in the basement of the Butler Street YMCA they could not arrest any White citizens. John Wesley Dobbs was the grandfather of Maynard Jackson and he died on the evening of the day the Atlanta School System was desegregated in 1961. Twelve years after John Wesley Dobbs passed away in 1961, his grandson, Maynard Jackson Jr., won election as Atlanta’s first Black mayor.

One of Jackson’s last actions as mayor was to push for legislation to change the name of Houston Street to John Wesley Dobbs Avenue, and thus pay homage to his grandfather. Houston Street was the site of the Dobbs home, where all six Dobbs daughters grew up. The name change signified the role that John Wesley Dobbs played in registering Black voters and nurturing Black political power in Atlanta.



1883
The Forty-Eighth Congress (1883-85) convenes. Only Two African Americans are included as representatives. They are James E. O’Hara of North Carolina and Robert Smalls of South Carolina.


1883
George L. Ruffin is appointed a city judge in Boston, Massachusetts.


1886
The birth of Ada Crogman Franklin is celebrated on this date. She was an African-American instructor and administrator in the performing arts.

From Atlanta, Georgia she was one of eight children of Dr. and Mrs. William H. Crogman. Her father, a distinguished Black scholar, was professor of Latin and Greek at Clark University for 37 years and then became the first African-American president of Clark, serving for seven years. Mrs. Franklin, along with her two sisters and five brothers, grew up on the Clark University campus. Following her graduation from Clark, she entered Emerson College in Boston majoring in dramatic art.

After graduation she was employed as a dramatics specialist with the National Playground and Recreation Association of New York. Her job was to travel throughout the country to find African-American talent in dramatics. She became so interested that she chose to write and to produce a pageant depicting the history and the contributions that African-American people have made to America. Before she began her dramatic career, Franklin taught at the Alabama State College and Tennessee State University.

Franklin became nationally known for her production, “Milestones of a Race,” which was presented in cities throughout the country. She developed local casts and trained local talent for the leading roles in the pageant. During this time she met Chester Franklin, a native of Texas. They were married in 1925 in Atlanta and moved to Kansas City. Soon she began to devote her talents to the Kansas City community in general and to the CALL newspaper in particular. After his death in 1955, Franklin continued the tradition of her husband whose policy was to operate a clean, family newspaper.

In 1969, the Department of Journalism presented Franklin the Curators’ Award in Journalism at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. In 1973, she was awarded the “NNPA Distinguished Publishers” award. In 1982, Mrs. Franklin contributed her father’s collection of books and paintings to Clark University. Ada Crogman Franklin died in 1983.



1887
On this date we remember the birth of Laura Wheeler Waring. She was an African-American artist.

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1887, Laura Wheeler Waring was the daughter of college-educated Rev. Robert Wheeler, who had for two years been pastor of the Talcott Street Congregational Church, home of Connecticut’s first Black congregation. Originally called the African Religious Society, the members built their church in 1826, and housed fugitive slaves before the end of the Civil War. The church began operating a public school in 1829, and it was the only place in the city where Black children could learn to read and write. They also learned their African history at a time when most black children were not being taught to read at all.

Flooded in that illustrious past, young Waring flourished in the exposure to her people’s culture and history. She graduated from Hartford High School in 1906, and spent the next six years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1914 and getting a scholarship to study in Europe. In 1924, she studied Expressionism and the Romantics at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, a popular Paris workshop/studio.

In 1928, she was among the artists displayed in the country’s first all African-American art exhibit held by the Harmon Foundation, which 16 years later selected Waring to paint portraits of outstanding Americans. She is best remembered for these portraits, many of them of notable Black people such as W.E.B. DuBois and James Weldon Johnson, as well as the lesser known Anne Washington Derry (shown) and a portrait called “Frankie,” also known as “Portrait of a Child.” In a time when African-American women were a silent force in American arts, Laura Wheeler Waring quietly set standards for dignity in portraiture. In an era when few African-American women attended school, Waring finished high school and college.

In an era when the few sisters who escaped to Europe often stayed there, Waring returned to America to start an arts department in a traditionally Black college. She made several more trips to study in Europe, but her main focus on returning home in the late 1920s was to make art education available to Black students at the historically Black Cheyney State Teachers College in Pennsylvania, now Cheyney University. There, she organized and directed both music and art departments until her death in 1948.



1911
Educator Helen Gray Edmonds is born in Lawrenceville, VA.


1922
On this date, Ralph Alexander Gardner was born. He was an African-American scientist who specialized in the development of hard plastics.

From Cleveland, Gardner’s parents were Vivian Hicks Gardner, a teacher and housewife, and Clarence Chavous Gardner, a musician and government worker. His mother earned a degree from the University of Illinois. While in the eighth and ninth grade Gardner realized that chemistry was his direction in life. Gardner attended the Cleveland Public Schools, graduating from John Adams High School.

He began college at the Case School of Applied Science in 1939 but grew disillusioned with the treatment he received there. As the only black student in their cooperative program (designed to find work for its students), he found it demeaning to be told that the school’s efforts to find him a job in a hospital kitchen or as a busboy were fruitless. He transferred to the University of California Berkley, then back home to eventually graduate from the University Of Illinois School Of Chemistry in 1943. Gardner took a research post at the University of Chicago’s Argonne National Laboratory.

For the next four and a half years he was involved on classified plutonium research that was known as the Manhattan Project-the making of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan in 1945. He worked under nuclear scientist Dr. Enrico Fermi and radioactivity scientist Dr. Nathan Sugarman. Gardner was one of more than a dozen black scientists who were involved in research on the atomic project. Those black scientists known to have been involved in the metallurgical laboratories also included Lloyd Albert Quarterman, Edward A. Russell, Moddie Taylor, Harold Delaney, Benjamin Scott, J. Ernest Wilkins, and Jaspar Jefferies. A second group at Columbia University included George Dewitt Turner, Cecil Goldsburg White, Sydney Oliver Thompson, William Jacob Knox, and George Warren Reid Jr. Despite his work on the atomic bomb, Gardner could not find an academic position in his field when he left Argonne in 1947 so he worked as a waiter until 1949.

Known throughout most of his life as “Ralph Alexander Gardner,” he added the “Chavis” surname late in his career in recognition of his relationship to John Chavis, the first African American to graduate from Princeton in 1760. In 1949 he became a research chemist and project leader at the Standard Oil Company in Ohio, where he remained for almost twenty years. Gardner-Chavis then took a teaching position in Cleveland State University’s chemistry department, where he remained full-time from 1968 to 1985.

He later combined part-time teaching with work in the research lab of Molecular Technology Corp., a private firm where he also served as the Vice President of Research and on the board of directors. Currently, he holds emeritus status in the CSU Chemistry Department, where he continues his research on catalysis and molecular technology, topics on which he has published numerous scholarly articles.

He became a pioneer chemist whose research into plastics led to the development of so-called “hard plastics.” His innovations in the manipulation of catalytic chemicals led to the products for the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries as well as plastics. Dr. Ralph Gardner-Chavis became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in 1942 and AICHE in 2001.


1951
President Truman names a committee to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions in U.S. government contracts and sub-contracts.


1956
Wilt Chamberlain plays in his first collegiate basketball game and scores 52 points.


1962
Edith Spurlock Sampson is sworn in as the first African American woman judge.


1964
The Spingarn Medal is presented to NAACP executive secretary Roy Wilkins for his contribution to “the advancement of the American people and the national purpose.”


1964
The Independence Bank of Chicago is organized.


1964
J. Raymond Jones became the first Black to chair a major Democratic group when he is elected leader of the New York Democratic organization (Tammany Hall).


1970
Jennifer Josephine Hosten, flight attendant and Grenada native, becomes the first African American woman to win the Miss World Pageant.


1971
This date celebrates the founding of The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).

That year, twelve African-American architects from different parts of the country met during the AIA National Convention in Detroit. They saw the desperate need for an organization dedicated to the development and advancement of minority architects. These men were
William Brown, Leroy Campbell, Wendell Campbell, John S. Chase, D. Dodd, Kenneth B. Groggs, Nelson Harris, Jeh Johnson, E.H. McDowell, Robert J. Nash, Harold Williams, and Robert Wilson.

Since then, NOMA has been an increasing influential voice, promoting the quality and excellence of minority design professionals. NOMA Chapters are throughout America, on colleges and university campuses providing greater access to government policy makers. NOMA, thrives when voluntary members contribute their time and resources. Its mission is to continue to build a strong national organization, strong chapters and strong members to minimize the effect of racism in their profession. The organization builds membership one professional at a time. NOMA is actively involved in the advancement of minority professionals, from job placement help for college students to aiding member firms in securing contracts.

NOMA has been organized to:

·         Foster communications and fellowship among minority architects;

·         Form a federation of existing and proposed local minority architectural groups;

·         Fight Discrimination and other selection policies being used by public and private sector clients to unfairly restrict minority architects’ participation in design and construction;

·         Act as a clearing house for information and maintain a roster on practitioners;

·         Promote the design and development of living, working, and recreational environments of the highest quality; Create and maintain relationships with other professionals and technicians whose work affects the physical and social environment;

·         Encourage the establishment of coalitions of member firms and individuals to form associate and joint venture relationships;

·         Speak with a common voice on public policy; Work with local, state, and national governments on issues affecting the physical development of neighborhoods and communities;

·         Be an effective source of motivation and inspiration for minority youth.

 

1979
A University of Southern California running back, Charles White, is named the Heisman Trophy winner for 1979. White, who gained a career regular season total of 5,598 yards, will play professionally for the Los Angeles Rams.


1982
Thomas Hearns unifies the world boxing titles in the junior middleweight division by capturing the WBC title over Wilfredo Benitez. This is one of five weight classes that he has won a boxing title making him the first Black to win boxing titles in five different weight classes.


1988
Barry Sanders wins the Heisman Trophy.


1988
In South Africa, 11 black funeral mourners are slain in Natal Province in an attack blamed on security forces.


1990
“Black Art - Ancestral Legacy: The African Impulse in African American Art” opens at the Dallas Museum of Art. United States and Caribbean artists represented among the more than 150 works include Richmond Barthé, John Biggers, Aaron Douglas, Malvin Gray Johnson, Sargent Johnson, and Houston Conwill.


1997
President Clinton hosts his first town hall meeting on America’s race relations in Akron, Ohio.

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Bibliography

Black History Special Features

 

1890

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