George Washington gives his farewell address to his troops at Fraunces Tavern in NYC owned by Samuel
“Black Sam” Fraunces a wealthy West Indian of African and French
descent who aided Revolutionary forces with food and money.
From what is known, Samuel Fraunces left the French West Indies to make his way
in New York City
in the 1750s. As the owner, first, of the Mason’s Arms Tavern and, later, of
the Queen’s Head, he was truly an original. Nicknamed Black Sam, he was
friendly and a connoisseur of good food and drink, and he eventually became one
of the better hosts in the colonies.
His tavern became hugely popular as a meeting place for revolutionaries—at
great risk to Fraunces. British troops kept him under house arrest during the
war. Yet he kept his tavern open and found ways to aid American prisoners of
war held by the British.
At the end of the war, the Americans held a victory parade along lower Broadway
(close to the tavern). Black Sam renamed his establishment Fraunces Tavern and
organized the first public dinner for Gen. George Washington. Later, it was
here that Washington
said farewell to his troops and leading officers.
was called back to serve as president, he appointed Samuel Fraunces his chief
steward. He reclaimed his popular tavern after Washington left the presidency. Originally
built in 1719, it was restored in 1904, and some of the original bricks are
This is a stunning Georgian building with a dark slate roof, a balustrade,
dormers and chimneys. Dining is on the first floor, and the top floors offer
several museum rooms with artifacts from the Revolutionary War and from
Fraunces’ personal items.
Prince Hall, activist and Masonic leader, joins the ancestors in Boston, Massachusetts.
Born in the British West Indies, Prince Hall migrated to Boston during his youth and rose to become
one of the Black community’s most influential members. At the outbreak of the
American Revolution, Hall enlisted in the Medford
militia and served in the armed forces. On this day in 1787, Hall received a
charter from the Grand Lodge of England and organized what is now the oldest
Black fraternal organization in America,
African Lodge Number 459 of the Freemasonry, by obtaining a charter from England. His
beliefs in education and support of his fellowman are still present in chapters
of his organization today. As one of America’s first abolitionists, Hall
was a primary force in a petition sent to the Massachusetts House of
Representatives to end slavery. His argument used all the principles for Prince
Hall which the settlers of America
broke away from England.
He also petitioned against the kidnapping and sale of free Blacks into slavery.
At the time of his death, Hall not only had full voting rights, but was also a
property owner. Because of his many contributions, many Masonic lodges observe
September 7 as Prince Hall Day.
The American Anti-Slavery Society is founded in Philadelphia
by James Barbados, Robert Purvis, James McCrummell, James Forten, Jr., John B. Vashon and 55 others. Coming from ten states the Society met in Philadelphia to create a
national organization to bring about immediate emancipation of all slaves. The
Society elected officers and adopted a constitution and declaration. Drafted by
William Lloyd Garrison, the
declaration pledged its members to work for emancipation through non-violent
actions of “moral suasion,” or “the overthrow of prejudice by the power of
The Anti-Slavery Movement began in Europe during the 1770s and rapidly spread
to the United States
during the American Revolutionary War. After the Revolutionary War, the
Mason-Dixon, which had been surveyed in 1667 to establish a boundary between
the English colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania, eventually became the
boundary between the Northern (Free) States and the Southern (Slavery) States.
The Anti-Slavery Movement in the United States, also known as the Abolitionist Movement, was already in
its infancy during the early 1780s, when the settlement of the Northwest
Territory was being contemplated. It is impossible to separate the Anti-Slavery
Movement from the Underground Railroad.
The Society encouraged public lectures, publications, civil
disobedience, and the boycott of cotton and other slave-manufactured products.
Broadside Press published a rare book about this event called Declaration of
the Anti-Slavery Convention. The Anti-Slavery
Movement influenced the United States Constitution and the Northwest Territory
in many subtle and not so subtle ways. It is important not to confuse the
Anti-Slavery Movement with the American Anti-Slavery Society, which became
formalized in 1831. Of course the Anti-Slavery Society was formed because of
the Anti- Slavery Movement, but the Anti-Slavery Movement represents a
date, the case of Roberts v. The
City of Boston began. This suit was heard by the Massachusetts Supreme
Court and was a prerequisite legal ruling in the civil rights cases of the
NAACP’s assault on America’s segregated educational system.
The judge presiding was Chief Justice Lemuel
Shaw. In 1848, five-year-old Sarah
Roberts was barred from the local primary school because she was black;
her father (Benjamin) sued the City. The lawsuit was part of an organized
effort by the African-American community to end racially segregated schools. A
city ordinance passed in 1845 said any child “unlawfully excluded from the
public schools” could recover damages (which meant they could sue the city).
Little Sarah had been forced to walk past five other schools to reach the
“colored” school in Smith Court. Now all Sarah’s lawyers had to do was prove
that she had been barred from those other schools unlawfully! Benjamin Roberts
violated no law when he took his daughter to be enrolled.
School authorities argued that special provisions had been made for “colored”
students. Since Boston maintained racially segregated schools, that Sarah
passed five White schools on her way to the black schools, the school board
contended was of no consequence. Roberts retained the talented attorney, abolitionist,
and later United States Senator Charles Sumner. Sumner worked with Robert
Morris, a young black abolitionist, and activist lawyer from Boston. This
formidable legal team broke new ground in their argument before the court.
Invoking “the great principle” embodied in the Constitution of Massachusetts;
they asserted that all persons, regardless of race or color, stand as equals
before the law.
In April of 1850, the Supreme Judicial Court issued its ruling in Roberts v.
Boston. Chief Justice Shaw, unmoved by impassioned oratory about freedom and
equality, decided the case on narrow legal groups, ruling in favor of the right
of the school committee to set education policy as it saw fit. Shaw could find
no constitutional reason for abolishing black schools. Boston’s schools would
remain segregated. The community was stunned.
Fort Valley State College is established in Georgia.
The South Carolina Constitutional Convention adopted a new constitution with “understanding clause” designed to
eliminate African American voters.
In the 1890s, southern states began to systematically and completely
disfranchise black males by imposing voter registration restrictions, such as
literacy tests, poll taxes, the grandfather clause, and the white primary (only
whites could vote in the Democratic Party primary contests). Such provisions
did not violate the Fifteenth Amendment because they applied to all voters
regardless of race. In reality, however, the provisions were more strictly enforced
on blacks, especially in those areas dominated by lower-class whites. The
so-called “understanding clause,” which allowed illiterate, white voters to
register if they understood specific texts in the state constitution to the
satisfaction of white registrars, was widely recognized to be a loophole
provision for illiterate whites. It was crafted to protect the suffrage of
those whites who might otherwise have been excluded from voting by the literacy
qualification for registering to vote. In point of fact, tens of thousands of
poor white farmers were also disfranchised because of non-payment of the poll
tax, for which there were no loopholes provided.
The Fifty-Sixth Congress convenes with only one African American congressman, George H. White, from North Carolina.
The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was founded on this date in 1906. They were the first
intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African-Americans.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has supplied voice and vision to the struggle
of African-Americans and people of color around the world. They were founded at
Cornell University in Ithaca, New York by seven college men who recognized the
need for a strong bond of Brotherhood among African descendants in this
The visionary founders, known as the “Jewels” of the Fraternity, were Henry
Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle
Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison
Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner
Woodson Tandy. They served as a study and support
group for minority students who faced racial prejudice, both educationally and
socially, at Cornell. Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were developed at other colleges
and universities; many of them historically Black institutions.
While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha also
recognized the need to help correct the educational, economic, political and
social injustices faced by African-Americans. Alpha Phi Alpha has long stood at
the forefront of the African-American community’s fight for civil rights
through leaders such as: W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Edward
Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, William Gray,
Paul Robeson, and many others.
date, the New York Amsterdam News was founded
by James H. Anderson. The New
York Amsterdam News has been one of the leading Black weekly newspapers for
almost 100 years.
Anderson was born shortly after the Civil War but ran away from his
farm home in South Carolina at age 12. After working at a variety of jobs
including bell hopping and a stint in the Navy, Anderson settled in New York
and decided to try his hand at publishing a newspaper for the Black
constituency. At the time only about 50 Black newspapers were being published
in the United States. But Anderson parlayed a $10 investment, six sheets of
paper and two pencils into his venture and launched one of the most influential
publications in the annals of the Black press. Using his wife’s 5 x 4 - foot
dressmaker’s table in the basement of his home at 135 W. 65th Street, Anderson
named and produced his paper for the Amsterdam neighborhood where he lived. The
Amsterdam News began life as a 2-cent per copy six-page weekly that was the
mouthpiece for one of the largest African-American communities in the United
States and covered the Black
community’s city social news, such as Black social organizations, local
YMCA events, weddings, engagements, births and charity events and so forth.
In its heyday, it had a circulation of over 100,000. By the mid 1940s it was
one of the four leading black newspapers in the country, along with The
Pittsburgh Courier, The Afro-American, and The Chicago Defender.
The Amsterdam News was named after the avenue on which James H. Anderson lived,
once known as San Juan Hill. The business offices were relocated to Harlem in
1910. During this early period, between the 1910s and ‘20s, renowned black
journalists such as T. Thomas Fortune wrote for and edited the paper. In 1926,
Sadie Warren, the wife of Edward Warren, one of its first publishers, purchased
the paper. It was resold ten years later to two West Indian physicians, Clelan
Bethan Powell, and Phillip M. H. Savory, who served as editor-publisher and
Under their management, the now semi-weekly paper became the first
African-American newspaper to have all of its departments unionized. The
Amsterdam News then began to focus on not only local, but also national events
as well. Many prominent African-Americans including W.E.B. Du Bois, Roy
Wilkins, and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. contributed columns and articles. Marvel
Cooke, joined the staff, becoming the paper’s first female news reporter. The
Amsterdam News supported many civil rights causes. During World War II with
other black papers it fought for civil rights in the armed forces.
In the 1950’s and ‘60s, it chronicled events of the civil rights movement such
as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Riders bus burning incident, and
numerous riots. The paper was the first to focus attention on Malcolm X, and in
1958 published his column “God’s Angry Man.” In 1971, the paper was purchased
for $2.3 million by a group of investors that included Percy E. Sutton, Wilbert
A. Tatum and several Harlem business associates. By 1990, the circulation of the paper was almost 35,000.
In 1997, Eleanor Tatum was appointed publisher and editor-in-chief.
The NAACP leads protest demonstrations against the showing of the racist movie, “Birth of a Nation.”
The racism that African Americans experienced in both the South and the North
during the war years could be glimpsed in many arenas of American life,
including the movies. It is not surprising, perhaps, that The Birth of a Nation, which appeared in March 1915, was both one
of the landmarks in the history of American cinema and a landmark in American
racism. Historian Thomas Cripps has characterized The Birth of a Nation as “at
once a major stride for cinema and a sacrifice of black humanity to the cause
of racism.” Birth of a Nation was based
on two historical novels, The Clansman,
An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan (1905) and The Leopard’s Spots: A Romance of the White Man’s Burden, 18651900 (1902),
and a play, The Clansman (1906),
written by a North Carolina lawyer turned preacher, Thomas Dixon Jr.
The movie recounts the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction through the
eyes and experiences of Southern whites who vehemently opposed the political
and social progress made by newly freed African Americans after the Civil War.
Much of the novel’s tone, which Cripps describes as “a nightmare of interracial
brutality, rape and castigation,” found its way into The Birth of a Nation.
Klux Klan receives its charter from Fulton County,
Georgia Superior Court. The modern Klan will spread to Alabama and other
Southern states and reach the height of its influence in the twenties. By 1924,
the organization will be strong in Oklahoma, Indiana, California, Oregon,
Indiana, and Ohio, and have an estimated four million members.
President Coolidge commutes Marcus Garvey’s sentence.
Garvey will be taken to New Orleans and deported to his native Jamaica.
The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is awarded to Anthony Overton, publisher, insurance executive and cosmetics manufacturer, for his
achievements as a businessman.
Duke Ellington’s big band opened at the famed Cotton
Club in Harlem. It was the first appearance of the Duke’s new and larger
In 1923, Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington first began to make his mark
in New York with his band The Washingtonians, which took its name from his home
city. He soon assembled a remarkable corpus of talented instrumentalists, whose
qualities he exploited not only by showcasing them in dynamic solo passages,
but also by joining them in astonishingly varied and colorful combinations of a
kind never before heard in jazz. These achievements, in addition to Ellington’s
expertise as an originator of intellectually satisfying musical structures,
made him the most celebrated and critically acclaimed of all jazz composers.
At the Cotton Club, Ellington’s orchestra began its four-year residency,
providing music for sumptuous stage routines in which exotically dressed black
dancers performed for an exclusively white audience. The band developed a new
style of “jungle” music for these dances, which featured a growl technique of
brass playing developed by trumpeter Bubber Miley and trombonist “Tricky Sam”
Nanton. Ellington’s other notable sidemen in these early years were alto
saxophonist Johnny Hodges (famous for his sensuous tone), baritone saxophonist
Harry Carney (whose agility on his potentially ponderous instrument was
phenomenal) and clarinetist Barney Bigard (who personified a direct link with
old New Orleans). In 1929, the virtuoso Cootie Williams succeeded Miley as
A succession of popular radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club brought Ellington
national fame, and his name became known around the globe after the successes
of “Mood Indigo” (1930) and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that
Swing)” (1932). In 1933 he took his band on their first tour of Europe. By this
time singer Cab Calloway had succeeded Ellington at the Cotton Club, and
Calloway was in turn succeeded by Jimmie Lunceford in 1934. Racial unrest in
Harlem in the following year forced the club to close down temporarily, but it
re-opened in a different location in the autumn of 1936 and remained in
business for a further four years. In the 1980s, the legendary venue inspired a
movie by director Francis Ford Coppola.
Other important nightspots in Harlem during the heyday of the Cotton Club were
Connie’s Inn (which hosted performances by Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson
and Fats Waller between 1929 and 1931), Small’s Paradise (haunt of stride
pianists Willie “The Lion” Smith and James P. Johnson) and the Savoy Ballroom
(just one block away from the original Cotton Club on Lenox Avenue).
date, (then) Major League
Baseball Commissioner Kenisaw Landis began the integration of professional
baseball by announcing that any club could sign Negroes to a playing contract.
Bernard King, professional basketball player (New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets), is
Dahomey (Benin) and the Ivory
Coast become autonomous within the French
Community of Nations.
The Pulitzer Prize for photography was awarded to Moneta J. Sleet Jr. of Ebony magazine on this date. He was the first Black male cited by
the Pulitzer committee.
In 1969, Sleet became the first
African American male and the first African American photographer to win a
Pulitzer Prize. He served as staff photographer for the Johnson Publishing
Company for over four decades, covering some of the most important events of
twentieth-century history. Sleet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photographic portrait
of Coretta Scott King and her youngest child, Bernice, was taken during Martin
Luther King Jr.’s funeral. In one split second Sleet captured what words could
never adequately express. Whether he was creating images of celebrities or the
largely anonymous, all were “photographed with the care and sensitivity that
are Moneta Sleet trademarks,” in the words of an Ebony article of January 1987.
Clarence Mitchell Jr., director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP, is awarded the
Spingarn Medal “for the pivotal role he....played in the enactment of civil
Panther leaders, Fred Hampton, 21 and the Illinois party chairman, and Mark Clark, 22 and
leader of the Panthers in Peoria, were killed
in Chicago police raid. Civil rights leaders said the two men were murdered while
sleeping in their beds. Four other,
two of them women, were wounded.
At the age of 16, Hampton was the head of the NAACP’s youth
chapter in Maywood, IL. Under his leadership, the youth chapter grew from seven
members to 700. In November 1968 Hampton founded the Chicago
chapter of the Black Panther Party. He immediately established a community
service program. This included the provision of free breakfasts for
schoolchildren and a medical clinic that did not charge patients for treatment.
Hampton also taught political education classes and instigated a community
control of police project.
One of Hampton’s greatest achievements was to persuade Chicago’s most powerful
street gangs to stop fighting against each other. In May 1969 Hampton held a
press conference where he announced a nonaggression pact between the gangs and
the formation of what he called a “rainbow coalition” (a multiracial alliance
of black, Puerto Rican, and poor youths). His ability to do this is said to be
one factor leading to his death. Hampton and Clark were the 27th and
28th Panthers to be killed during the year of 1969.
Later that year Hampton was arrested and charged with stealing $71 worth of
sweets, which he then allegedly gave away to local children. Hampton was
initially convicted of the crime but the decision was eventually overturned.
The activities of the Black Panthers in Chicago came to the attention of J.
Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Hoover described the Panthers as “the greatest threat
to the internal security of the country” and urged the Chicago police to launch
an all-out assault on the organization. In 1969 the Panther party headquarters
on West Monroe Street was raided three times and over 100 members were
In the early hours of this date, the Panther headquarters was raided by the
police for the fourth time. The police later claimed that the Panthers opened
fire and a shoot-out took place. During the next ten minutes Fred Hampton and
Mark Clark were killed. Witnesses claimed that Hampton was wounded in the
shoulder and then executed by a shot to the head.
The Panthers left alive, including Deborah Johnson, one of the
women in the apartment at the time of the incident and Hampton’s girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant at the time, were
arrested and charged with attempting to murder the police. Afterwards,
ballistic evidence revealed that only one bullet had been fired by the Panthers
whereas nearly a hundred came from police guns. Less than a
month after the pre-dawn killings Fred Hampton, Jr. was born to Deborah
After the resignation of President Richard Nixon, the Senate Intelligence
Committee conducted a wide-ranging investigation of America’s intelligence
services. Frank Church of Idaho, the chairman of the committee, revealed in
April, 1976 that an infiltrator, William
O’Neal, Hampton’s bodyguard, was a FBI agent-provocateur who, days before the
raid, had delivered an apartment floor-plan to the Bureau with an “X” marking
Hampton’s bed. Ballistic evidence showed that most bullets during the raid were
aimed at Hampton’s bedroom. The attack was masterminded by the city
police force and the FBI’s powerful counter-intelligence program (COINTEL-PRO).
Jean-Bedel Bokassa, ruler of the Central African Empire, crowns himself.
According to South Africa, Ciskei gains independence, but is not recognized as an independent country
outside South Africa.
Hershel Walker, a University of Georgia running back who amassed an NCAA record of
5,097 yards in three seasons, is named the Heisman Trophy winner. He is only
the seventh junior to win the award. He will go on to play with the New Jersey
Generals of the U.S. Football League and the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas
Cowboys in the NFL.
Robert Goodman, a Black
lieutenant who served as a bombardier-navigator on a Navy plane, was shot down
over Damascus, Syria and held prisoner on this date. The Rev. Jesse Jackson secured Goodman’s release one-month later.
The Watts Health Foundation reports revenues in excess of $100 million for the first year in its
history. Established in 1967, the Foundation grew from its initial site on
riot-torn 103rd Street to serve over 80,000 residents of the Greater
Los Angeles area with its HMO, United Health Plan, and its numerous
community-based programs. Led by CEO Dr. Clyde Oden, it is the largest
community-based health care system of its kind in the nation.
United States troops land in the country of Somalia.