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1579
On this date, St. Martin de Porres was born. He was a Black patron saint.

From Lima, Peru he was often called Saint Martin of Charity; and the Saint of the Broom (for his devotion to his work, no matter how menial). De Porres was the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a young freed Black slave, he grew up in poverty. De Porres spent part of his youth with a surgeon-barber where he learned some medicine and how to care for the sick. At age 11 he became a servant in the Dominican priory.

Promoted to almoner, he solicited (begged) more than $2,000 a week from the rich to support the poor and sick of Lima. He was put in charge of the Dominican’s infirmary; and was known for his care of the sick and for his spectacular cures. His superiors dropped the stipulation that “no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our order.” De Porres also took vows as a Dominican brother; established an orphanage and children’s hospital for the poor children of the areas slums. He even set up a shelter for the stray cats and dogs and nursed them back to health. Martin de Porres lived in self-imposed austerity, never ate meat, fasted continuously, and spent much time in prayer and meditation.

He had great devotion to the Eucharist and was venerated from the day of his death. The first Black saint in the Americas, Martin de Porres died of fever in 1639.



1833
The Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society was founded on this date. This was an abolitionist group that also championed racial and sexual equity.

Their first meeting took place at Catherine McDermot’s schoolroom in Philadelphia. The constitution they adopted set forth their firm belief that slavery and prejudice were contrary to the laws of God and the Declaration of Independence. During the 1830s, 40s, and 50s, antislavery societies sprang up in cities across the North. Of the forty-two women who became the Society’s charter members, nine were Black.

They were Charlotte Forten and her three daughters, Harriett D. Purvis, Sarah Louise Forten and Margaretta Forten. Grace Douglass, Mary Woods, Lydia White, Margaret Bowser, and Sarah McCrummel also signed the charter; Sarah Mapps Douglas joined the organization shortly after. Black women were instrumental in shaping many of their philosophies; their activism characterized the organization. In 1837, Black Philadelphians Grace Douglas and Sarah Forten joined their White colleagues, Lucretia Mott, and three others to form a six-member board of managers, raising money and coordinating fairs for emancipation.

For nine years (1840 to 1849), the society’s education committee that included several Black members allocated $120 annually to finance a school taught by Sarah Mapps Douglass. The women also worked with Robert Purvis and other Blacks of the Philadelphia Vigilant Committee by donating money to clothe, feed, and transport slaves fleeing the South. With the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the post-Civil War constitutional amendments, members of the Society determined that their work was finished.

Resolutions offered at the final meeting of the Society, on March 21, 1870 celebrated the occasion. “Whereas,” began the resolution proposed by Margaretta Forten, “the object for which this Association was organized is thus accomplished, therefore resolved, that the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, grateful for the part allotted to it in this great work, rejoicing in the victory which has concluded the long conflict between slavery and Freedom in America, does hereby disband.”

As a model for racial equality and two-way sisterhood for almost four decades, the Society’s members could be pleased about their hard work to achieve Black emancipation had been done well.



1848
On this date, Joel Chandler Harris was born. He was an American writer, the creator of the “Uncle Remus” tales.

From Eatonton, Georgia, Harris worked from 1862 to 1866 on The Countryman, a paper published by a Southern plantation owner. For the next ten years, Harris worked on various newspapers in Georgia and Louisiana; in 1876 he began working at the Atlanta Constitution, where he stayed until 1900. Over time Harris became familiar with the legends and dialects of local Blacks.

In the 1880s Harris began to publish whimsical, imaginative stories that accurately reproduced local Black folktales in authentic language. The stories centered on the character of Uncle Remus, a former slave who is the servant of a Southern family. To entertain the young son, Uncle Remus tells him stories about animals that act like humans, such as Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear. With these stories and other works depicting Southern life, Harris became one of the first American authors to use dialect to provide an important record of Black oral folktales in the Southeastern United States.

The importance of his writings was supported with the motion-picture adaptation of his “Uncle Remus” tales in the feature film Song of the South. Released in 1946, this Academy Award-winning Walt Disney film features three animated stories told to a White child by his friend, a former slave named Uncle Remus, Stories include “Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby,” “The Briar Patch,” and “The Laughing Place.”

This film received criticism for its portrayal of a fictional time in the South when slaves were happy and their work was rewarding. Joel Chandler Harris died in 1908.



1867
The Georgia constitutional convention, consisting of 33 African American and 137 whites, opens in Atlanta, Georgia.


1872
P.B.S. Pinchback was sworn in as the first Black governor of Louisiana. He briefly occupied the seat after former Gov. H.C. Warmoth was impeached “for high crimes and misdemeanors.” After the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Pinchback became one of the most influential Black politicians in America.


1875
Carter G. Woodson was born on this day in New Canton, VA. Woodson is credited with being the “Father of Black History.” The scholar was responsible for establishing the first “Negro History Week” in 1926 that would develop into the Black History Month, widely recognized throughout the world today.


1890
On this date, John P. Parker, African-American businessman, and abolitionist patented the Soil Pulverizer. This agricultural invention was a great asset to expediting farm harvesting.


1913
L.C. “Speedy” Huggins was born on this date. He was an African-American dancer and musician.

Huggins was born in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. His family later moved to Kansas City, Kansas, where he attended Northeast Junior High School. A self-taught tap dancer, when he graduated from the eighth grade in 1928 he was dancing in nightclubs throughout the 18th and Vine district. In 1933, he performed on the opening night of the Cherry Blossom Club, one of the area’s premier nightclubs. Huggins performed throughout Europe while serving in the Army during World War II.

After the war, he returned to Kansas City and enrolled in the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in drum and percussion classes. He danced primarily with the Three Clouds of Rhythm and played drums with other bands, including the Willie Rice Big Band. He played with Ella Fitzgerald and was featured in the documentary film “The Last of the Blue Devils.” Huggins remained active in the business until the end of his life.

In the 1980s, he added singing to his talents and performed at many local nightclubs, jazz events, and jam sessions Kansas City. His booking agent gave him the nickname “Speedy” for his slow, soft-shoe dance style, and his relaxed pace. Huggins was one of the most beloved musicians in the Midwest.

Prior to his death at the age of 85, he was one of the few jazzmen still working whose musical roots reached back to the heyday of Kansas City jazz, when the 18th and Vine district showed off one of the liveliest music and nightclub scenes in the country. He
died in 1999.


1917
The birth of Donald Lee Hollowell on this date is marked. He was an African-American attorney who specialized in Civil Rights.

From Wichita, (Sedgwick County) Kansas, Hollowell was the third of five children born to Ocenia and Harrison Hollowell. His mother encouraged all her children to get a good education and each played a musical instrument. Hollowell played the tuba and sousaphone in the school band and was an excellent athlete. Hollowell was introduced to racial prejudice at a young age. The systematic discrimination accelerated as he grew older and in order to find work and secure a better life for their children, the Hollowell’s moved often.

During 1935, the summer of his senior year in high school, and during the Great Depression years, Hollowell’s father told him he would have to quit school and support himself with a full time job. Furious with the economic situation, he joined the U.S. Armies 10th Calvary Regiment (the Buffalo Soldiers) at Fort Leavenworth. By 1938 as a PFC Specialist Five he received a chance to attend Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. There, he played football, basketball, and track and field. Hollowell became class president, helped establish their Kappa Alpha Psi Chapter and joined the C. M. E. (Christian Methodist Episcopal) Church.

In 1941, Hollowell was recalled to active duty with a segregated U.S. Army for WWII. Hollowell eventually arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia where he met and later married Louise Thornton who owned a beauty salon in Atlanta. The couple married in May 1943, a few months before Hollowell re-enlisted and was transferred overseas. After the war, he returned to Lane College and graduated magna cum laude in 1947. He went on to earn a law degree from Loyola University in Chicago in 1951. Hollowell became a lawyer to help others achieve social justice because of his experiences with racism and from his work with the Southern Negro Youth Conference while at Lane.

He moved to Atlanta and opened a law practice (Hollowell, Foster & Gepp). He became one of the leading Civil Right’s attorneys in the country, mentoring a host of young black attorneys, including Vernon Jordan and Horace Ward. In 1966, Hollowell accepted an appointment from President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first regional director of the new Equal Opportunity Commission, which monitors workplace discrimination. He remained at the EEOC as regional attorney until 1985 and was later considered for a federal or state judgeship, although no nomination ever came.

Through his career he was regarded as one of the preeminent Civil Rights attorneys in the South, consistently at the center of historic events. Hollowell’s work and contributions to the movement during the 1950s through 1960s, as an attorney, changed the face of history throughout Georgia and changed the lives of its people. Hollowell was closely associated with two pivotal Georgia Civil Rights cases, the integration of Atlanta Public Schools and the integration of the University of Georgia (1961), but for 40 years he was a quiet leader in the battle for Civil Rights in Georgia.

His legacy also includes desegregating buses in Augusta and schools in Macon, and freeing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Reidsville Prison in the 1960s where he landed following a traffic offense. When Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta refused to allow black doctors to work in the hospital, Hollowell argued and won the Civil Rights case that had national impact. His success is credited to his hard work, integrity and unique abilities to understand the law and race relations. In 1998, Atlanta renamed Bankhead Highway in his honor.

Donald Hollowell died in Atlanta on December 27, 2004, at age 87 from heart failure. Lane College, honored him posthumously following his death with the Order of the Dragon, the third person to receive the honor and Lane College also plans to name its library in his honor.



1919
Roy Rudolph DeCarava was born on this date in 1919. He was an African-American artist and photographer.

DeCarava was born in Harlem, New York the only child of Elfreda, a Jamaican, and Andrew DeCarava. At five he began to express his artistic ability: he made jewelry with his friends, chalk drawings in the streets where he played, and sketches of “cowboys and Indians.” From early childhood through high school, he shined shoes, sold newspapers on the subway, making deliveries, or hauled ice. DeCarava attended Textile High School’s annex in Harlem, which was segregated.

Black students learned nothing, while White students attended the main Textile High on 18th Street in New York and learned to design and manufacture textiles. After a year at the annex, he and a friend Alfonso Merritt transferred to the main school as the only African-Americans. There DeCarava studied art history and was introduced to the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci and developed an informed sense of art. He graduated in 1938, passed an examination to attend The Cooper Union School of Art, where he studied art for two years.

Frustrated with the constant racism between home and school DeCarava left Cooper Union in 1940. He turned to photography that year and quickly mastered the requirements of the small, hand-held camera, the trademark of advanced American work. DeCarava shot and developed many pictures after winning a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1952, the first awarded to an African-American photographer. This allowed him to spend a full year photographing daily life in Harlem. His pictures brought a new gentleness and intimacy to photography. Among his earliest works exhibited are photographs that first appeared in the book The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955), with a fictional text by Langston Hughes.

That same year DeCarava opened a photographer’s gallery in New York, a pioneering effort to win recognition for photography as a fine art. The gallery remained open for more than two years. In 1956 he embarked on an extensive series of photographs of jazz musicians, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday and more. Together with photographs of Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, Norman Lewis, and others, these formed an important body of work. DeCarava quit his job as a commercial illustrator in 1958, and for most of the next two decades he earned his living as a freelance photographer.

In 1963 he helped found the Kamoinge Workshop, an association of African-American photographers based in Harlem. In the early 1960s, DeCarava’s work grew more tough-minded responding to racial discrimination. He shot the laborers in New York’s garment district and civil rights protests, Mississippi freedom marchers in Washington, D. C., and other moments in eastern America. In 1975, he began to teach photography at Hunter College, where he is a distinguished Professor of Art at the City University of New York. A life-long New Yorker, DeCarava almost always has photographed close to home. His art has continued to evolve.

DeCarava’s hand-camera style discards artificial light as an intrusion upon experience and thus accepts deep shadow and blur as marks of legitimacy. Beginning in 1985, DeCarava elaborated this principle in pictures whose long exposures make the blur of motion an active stylistic device. His style and work continues into the twenty-first century.



1922
Redd Foxx was born on this date. He was an African-American comedian and actor.

From St. Louis, Missouri,
John Elroy Sanford (his birth name) was the son of Fred and Mary, an electrician and minister respectively. His father deserted the family when he was four and his grandmother and mother in Chicago, Illinois then raised him. Foxx quit high school after one year to play in a washtub band with two friends, Lamont Ousley, and Steve Trimel; they eventually ran away to New York in 1939.

When World War II broke out and their band broke up Foxx was rejected by the military, he then played in a tramp band act at the Apollo Theater with Jimmie Lunceford. About this time he adopted his professional name “Red” because of his red hair and light completion, adding an extra “d” and taking the name “Foxx” with the label “foxy” (and the baseball player Jimmie Foxx) in mind. He began landing nightclub jobs where he developed a classic stand up routine. From 1947 to 1951, he teamed up with comedian Slappy White, then working the West Coast as a solo act. In 1956, he recorded the first of what would become more than fifty “party record”-comedy albums specializing in raunchy humor.

Although he had never done any straight acting, Foxx accepted the small role of Uncle Bud in the 1969 film Cotton Comes to Harlem. NBC developed Sanford and Son, casting Foxx in the lead role, which ran from 1972 to 1977. Foxx received considerable acclaim for this television series but a spin-off role, as Fred Sanford, in 1980 was not as successful. In 1983 he filed for bankruptcy and two years later the Internal Revenue Service claiming he owed them 3 million dollars seized many of his possessions including his Las Vegas home.

While working on another television series for NBC, The Royal Family, Redd Foxx died, on the set, of a heart attack on October 11, 1991.



1925
In one of the most sensational murder cases of modern times, Dr. Ossian H. Sweet and 10 members of his family were freed on bail after a mistrial had been declared. Dr. Sweet had moved into a racially mixed neighborhood in Detroit and a mob descended on his home, throwing bricks, stones, and firing guns at his house. A member of the household fired back into the mob and a White man was killed. Clarence Darrow was chief counsel for the defense. In a later trial, a jury found Henry Sweet innocent and dismissed the case against the others.


1930
Andrew “Rube” Foster, organizer of the Negro National League died on this date. A year later, the league disbanded to bickering among owners, weak financial backing, the Depression, and few stars for which the Black press could write.


1938
The first public service programming aired when Jack L. Cooper launches the “Search for Missing Persons” show. In 1929, he debuted “The All-Negro Hour” on WSBC in Chicago.  He is considered to be the first African American disc jockey and radio announcer.


1953
Lloyd B. Free is born in Brooklyn, New York. He will become a professional basketball player and will later change his name to World B. Free. He will be a NBA guard with the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Houston Rockets. He will leave the NBA in 1988 with 17,955 career points and a career scoring average of 20.3 points per game.


1961
Tanganyika gains independence from Great Britain and takes the name Tanzania.


1961
Wilt Chamberlain of the NBA Philadelphia Warriors scores 67 points vs. the New York Knicks.


1962
Tanzania becomes a republic within the British Commonwealth.


1971
Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Undersecretary of the United Nations from 1955 to his retirement in October, 1971, joins the ancestors in New York City at the age of 67.


1971
Bill Pickett, rodeo cowboy/bull wrestler, became the first Black inducted to the Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City on this day. He is credited with inventing the steer-wrestling (or bulldogging) event, which is famous in today's rodeos. Over time his roping, riding and bull-dogging skills earned him a legendary reputation at Wild West shows that toured throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America and England. A native of Travis County, TX, Pickett, born to former slaves on December 5, 1870, was the 2nd of 13 children. Pickett started his career as a cowboy with only a fifth-grade education. Pickett died April 2, 1932, from injuries he suffered after he was kicked by a horse. The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo tours annually in his honor. A painting of the famous Black cowboy was presented to the Oklahoma Senate to be displayed along with other historical paintings in the state's Capitol.


1976
Tony Dorsett is awarded the Heisman Trophy. Dorsett, a running back for the University of Pittsburgh, amasses a total of 6,082 total yards and will go on to play with the Dallas Cowboys and help lead them to the Super Bowl.


1984
The Jackson’s Victory Tour comes to a close at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, after 55 performances in 19 cities. The production is reported to be the world’s greatest rock extravaganza and one of the most problematic. The Jackson brothers receive about $50 million during the five-month tour of the United States - before some 2.5 million fans.


1984
Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears records another first as he runs six plays, as quarterback. He is intercepted twice, but runs the ball himself on four carries. The Green Bay Packers still win 20-14.  Payton says after the game, “It was OK, but I wouldn’t want to do it for a living.”


1984
Eric Dickerson, of the Los Angeles Rams, becomes only the second pro football player to run for more than 2,000 yards (2,105) in a season. He passes O.J. Simpson’s record of 2,003 as the Rams beat the Houston Oilers 27-16.


1989
Craig Washington wins a special congressional election in Texas’ 18th District to fill the seat vacated by the death of George “Mickey” Leland.


1992
Barbara Jordon, lawyer, educator, political leader, and stateswoman, received the 77th NAACP Spingarn Medal on this date for her dedicated career as a public servant and for her strong belief in the equality of man and the community of the nation.


1995
Kweisi Mfume is unanimously elected President and CEO of the NAACP.


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