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.
The Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society was founded
on this date. This was an abolitionist group that also championed racial and
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
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.
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
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
The Georgia constitutional convention, consisting of 33 African
American and 137 whites, opens in Atlanta,
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.
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.
date, John P. Parker,
African-American businessman, and abolitionist patented the Soil Pulverizer. This agricultural invention was a
great asset to expediting farm harvesting.
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.
The birth of
Donald Lee Hollowell on this
date is marked. He was an African-American attorney who specialized in Civil
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tanganyika gains independence from Great Britain and takes the
Wilt Chamberlain of the NBA Philadelphia Warriors scores 67 points vs. the New York Knicks.
Tanzania becomes a republic within the British Commonwealth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Craig Washington wins a special congressional election in Texas’ 18th
District to fill the seat vacated by the death of George “Mickey” Leland.
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
Kweisi Mfume is
unanimously elected President and CEO of the NAACP.