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1832
The first hospital for African Americans is founded by whites and chartered in Savannah, Georgia.


1833
On this date, we celebrate the birth of Joseph Corbin. He was a black teacher, editor, and the highest-ranking Black official in Arkansas Reconstruction.

From Chillicothe, Ohio and since black were excluded from public schools, his parents educated him at fee-paying institutions in the area. Corbin eventually earned B. A. and M. A. degrees from Ohio University. Before the Civil War, he worked as a clerk in Cincinnati at the Bank of Ohio Valley while editing the Cincinnati Colored Citizen newspaper. Soon after, he taught in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1872, he came to Arkansas, worked for a brief time as a reporter for the Little Rock Arkansas Republican, and was elected and served (1873-1874) as superintendent of education. Corbin also taught in Missouri in 1874 but returned to the Razorback state to become principal of Branch Normal College (a school which trained Black teachers) from 1875 to 1902.

Corbin was an active member of the Black Masons. After being dismissed, Joseph C. Corbin became the principal of a Black high school in Pine Bluff. He died there in 1911.



1853
The birth of Octavia Victoria Rogers Albert is celebrated on this date. She was a black Christian teacher and writer.

She was born in Oglethorpe, Georgia, where she lived in slavery until the Emancipation. Like millions of freed blacks, she had a deep yearning for learning and, eventually, at Atlanta University, she studied to be a teacher. This steady young woman was as serious about being a stalwart Christian as she was about being a sterling teacher. While still living in Oglethorpe, she had joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was led by the legendary Bishop Henry McNeal Turner.

Not unlike many of her contemporaries, Rogers saw teaching as a form of worship and Christian service. Her first teaching job was in Montezuma, Georgia. There, in 1874 she married another teacher at this school, A.E.P. Albert, who later became an ordained minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Soon after their marriage, the Albert’s moved to Houma, Louisiana, where she began conducting interviews with men and women once enslaved. These interviews were the raw material for
one of the most thought-provoking and influential books published by a Black author prior to the Civil War and what became her gifted collection of narratives, The House of Bondage, or Charlotte Brooks and Others Slaves. It was was a collection of seven informal firsthand accounts of the brutality and dehumanization of slavery as told by former slaves. Octavia Victoria Rogers Albert did not live to see The House of Bondage reach the public.

It was shortly after her death in 1890, that the New Orleans-based Methodist Episcopal Church newspaper the “Southwestern Christian Advocate” serialized the work from January to December 1890.



1865
The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is organized in Pulaski, Tennessee.


1881
The post-Civil War segregation movement formally begins. Tennessee starts the modern segregation movement with Jim Crow railroad car laws designed to keep Blacks separate from whites as much as possible. The Tennessee laws centered around segregated railroad cars with “white” and “colored” sections. Thirteen Southern and border states, Florida (1887), Mississippi (1888), Texas (1889), Louisiana (1890), Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas and Georgia (1891), South Carolina (1898), North Carolina (1899), Virginia (1900), Maryland (1904), and Oklahoma (1907) immediately enacted similar laws in a bid to turn back Black progress that had taken place during Reconstruction.


1881
The United Order of True Reformer, an African American fraternal order, was established. It was a fraternal organization of African-Americans founded after the Civil War and as a new period of Black suppression known as Jim Crow was established. The True Reformers aimed to set up independent self-help organizations for former slaves. Some groups became prosperous business enterprises. The original mastermind was William Washington Browne—a Methodist minister in Richmond, VA.


1881
On this date, the exodus of 5,000 Blacks from Edgefield County, South Carolina begins. They become migrants, protesting exploitation and violence, finally settling in Arkansas after a week-long journey.


1886
The founding of the Black Town of Eatonville, Florida is celebrated on this date.

Eatonville, the first incorporated black town in America possesses a rich traditional culture and is integrally related to the African-American traditional culture that has endured there through generations. Of the more than one hundred black towns founded between 1865 and 1900, Eatonville is the hometown of David Deacon Jones former professional football player and today continues to celebrate its connection with the Zora Neal Hurston Festival; another home girl.


The town’s population in 2000 was 2,432. Eatonville is located a few miles north of Orlando via I-4. Exit at Lee Road, turn right, and follow it to Orlando Avenue, then left to another left at Kennedy Boulevard, the town’s main street. Artist Jules Andre Smith did a series of paintings depicting life in Eatonville during the 1930s-1940s. Twelve of these works are at the Maitland Art Center in Eatonville.



1898
On this date we mark the birth of “Baby” Dodds. He was an African-American musician, a leading early jazz percussionist, and one of the first major jazz drummers on record.

Warren Dodds was from New Orleans, Louisiana. At an early age he played drums in New Orleans parade and jazz bands, and from 1918 to 1921 he played in Fatte Marable’s riverboat bands. In 1922 he went to San Francisco to join King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. Dodds recorded with Oliver in Chicago the following year, and before the end of the decade, he appeared on classic recordings with other ex-New Orleans small-group leaders such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Baby’s brother Johnny Dodds.

He also played in Johnny’s bands during the 1920s and ‘30s; during the 1940s traditional jazz revival, he was active in New York City as well as in Chicago, including a period with Bunk Johnson’s popular band (1944-45). Poor health led Dodds to perform only irregularly after 1949. Even when he was restrained by the limitations of early recording technology, as in his recordings with Oliver, Dodd’s distinctive qualities are evident to the listener. His style incorporated an unusual range of sound colors; his percussion patterns sometimes changed from chorus to chorus, and the offbeat punctuation he provided for soloists and ensembles was often so active that it amounted to interplay.

While some of his later work was criticized as being mere showmanship, early jazz performers and audiences admired him. He was popular with many bebop drummers as well. Among his most valuable documents are two albums of percussion demonstrations, with his own narration; 1940s recordings with the revival bands of Bunk Johnson and George Lewis; and late 1920s recordings on washboard, as well as on drum kit, with Johnny Dodds.

His reminiscences, The Baby Dodds Story, written with Larry Gara, were published in 1959. He died on Valentines Day of that year in Chicago, Illinois.



1908
Jabbo Smith was born on Christmas Eve. He was an African-American musician.

From Pembroke, Georgia, the son of a barber and church organist, after the death of his father Smith moved at age four, to Savannah, Georgia. His mother found it increasingly difficult to care for him and at age six he was placed into the Jenkins Orphanage Home in Charleston. His mother also found employment in the Home in order to be near to him. The Jenkins Home placed heavy emphasis on music education and it was in this setting that Smith took up trumpet and trombone at the age of eight and began touring the country with a student band at the age of ten.

Smith left The Jenkins Home at the age of sixteen and headed north to make his mark on music. He kept a promise to his mother never to work for less than one hundred dollars a week. Smith found employment in a number of top bands; the most important of which were Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Ten. This group included arranger Benny Carter on alto and Duke Ellington. Smith played on the 1927 recording of Black and Tan Fantasy. He turned down an offer to join the Ellington Orchestra that same year because of money.

Smith was stranded in Chicago in 1929 while on the road with Keep Shufflin’ following the gangland killing of Arnold Rothstein, the financier of the show. Smith then formed his Rhythm Aces, a quintet with whom he recorded nineteen songs in 1929. These works attracted the attention of Roy Eldridge, who adopted some of Smith’s speed into his own playing. Toward the end of the 1930’s Smith gradually withdrew from serious music activity. He led a group for a while at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and gigged in a Newark, New Jersey club called the Alcazar.

It was there that he encouraged a 17-year-old Newark singer who sat in at the Alcazar from time to time to enter a talent show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. She won and got her start. The Singer, The Divine One was Sarah Vaughn. From there Smith moved to Milwaukee where he married, did some local playing and enjoyed the security of a steady job with a car rental agency. He faded away in quiet oblivion for twenty years. Around 1960, Smith recorded two albums and in 1979 was a guest artist in the musical One Mo’ Time.

He also made appearances at several Jazz festivals, toured Europe, and performed at the West End Cafe, the Bottom Line, and the Village Vanguard, all in New York. One of his last public performances was in Berlin in 1986. Jabbo Smith died in January of 1991 at age 82.



1898

Irvin Charles Mollison was born in Vicksburg, MS on this date. On November 3, 1945, he was appointed the first African American appointed to a position in the federal judiciary that was posthumously converted into an Article III judgeship. Judge Mollison was also the first African American to serve on the United States Customs Court. He was appointed by President Truman.

Mollison was the son of Willis E. Mollison, one of the pioneering African-American lawyers in Mississippi. He attended Oberlin College between 1916-1917 and earned his undergraduate degree in 1920 from the University of Chicago where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Three years later, Mollison earned his law degree from the University of Chicago, as well.

Judge Mollison earned admittance to the Illinois bar in 1923, and thereafter engaged in general law practice in his father’s firm. In 1930, Judge Mollison wrote one of the early scholarly articles on 19th century African-American lawyers. Judge Mollison civic and legal career highlights include his term as Secretary of Provident Hospital Board, Chicago (1942); Treasurer of the Cook County Bar Association (1928-1930); Member of the Illinois State Bar Association; and President of the Illinois State Conference for the Advancement of Colored People (1938-1940). Judge Mollison was appointed by Mayor Edward J. Kelly of Chicago for a three year term as a Director of the Chicago Public Library (1938-1943); and in 1944, he was the only African-American member of the Board of Education for the City of Chicago.

As an attorney, Judge Mollison was of counsel in the United States Supreme Court case of Hansberry et al v. Lee et al, 311 U.S. 32 (1940), which involved the validity of a restricted covenant in a title. He also served as an attorney for Leander McCline in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit extradition case of United States ex rel. Leander McCline v. Meyering, 75 F.2d 716 (1934).

By letter to President Truman dated November 12, 1945, Judge Mollison had the following to say regarding the significance of his appointment to the United States Customs Court:
 

United States Customs Court
201 Varick Street
New York
14


November 12, 1945

The President
Washington, D.C.

Sir:

The honor which you have bestowed is not only an honor to me as an individual but also an important and significant recognition of the worth and usefulness of colored Americans.

I have the honor to remain,

Most respectfully yours,

/s/ Irvin C. Mollison

Willis Mollison passed the Mississippi Bar in 1887. In 1892, he was appointed a district attorney pro tem in Vicksburg; he later became the president of Lincoln Savings Bank and owner publisher of The National Star, an African-American newspaper. Judge Mollison died on May 5, 1962


1924
Lee Dorsey is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will become a vocalist, best known for the recording of “Working in the Coal Mines.”


1936
Count Basie makes his New York debut at the Roseland Ballroom.


1946
“Mean” Joe Green is born. He will become a football player for the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers (defensive tackle) and win rings in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV. He will later become a Miami Dolphins defensive coach.


1954
In a session with the Miles Davis All-Stars, Thelonius Monk records “Bag’s Groove,” which many will regard as his finest solo performance.


1959
Dr. Miles Vanderhurst Lynk, physician and publisher of the Medical and Surgical Advisor, the first Black medical journal, died in Memphis, TN on this date.


1989
The first Black mayor of New Orleans, LA, Ernest Nathan “Dutch”, died on this date at the age of 60.


1992
Former Mississippi Democratic Congressman Alphonso Michael “Mike” Espy was appointed to serve as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture by President-elect Bill Clinton on this day. As the first Black Agriculture Secretary, Espy was credited with reorganizing a $65 billion agency, negotiating multilateral trade treaties to give greater access to foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products, and establishing the groundwork for changes in the 1995 farm law. Albert Michael Espy was born in Yazoo City, MS, in 1953. He received a bachelor's degree in 1975 from Howard University and earned a law degree from the University of Santa Clara School of Law in 1978. Espy practiced in Mississippi and later served as a Mississippi assistant secretary of state from 1978 to 1984 and an assistant state attorney general from 1984 to 1985. In 1987, he was elected to Congress and served until 1993 when he resigned to serve as Agriculture Secretary, a post he held until 1994. He's now a member of Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens and Cannada, the state's largest law firm, and senior adviser for the Advisory Board for the Secretary of the U.S. Energy Department.

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