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On this date, Henry Plummer Cheatham was born. He was a black politician and a member of the House of Representative in North Carolina.

Born a slave near Henderson, North Carolina he attended public school and entered the normal school at Shaw University in Raleigh in 1875. Three years later he enrolled in the University’s college department, receiving an AB degree in 1882. Until 1884 he was a principal at the Plymouth Normal School after which he returned to his home and was elected to two terms as registrar of deeds in Vance County.

In 1887 he received his MA degree from Shaw University and in that same year was one of the founders and incorporators of an orphanage for black children at Oxford, North Carolina. Cheatham was elected to the Fifty-first Congress in 1888. He became a member of the Committee on Education and the Committee on Expenditures on Public Buildings. He attempted to get funding to reimburse the 61,000 depositors of the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company and money to be set aside for Robert Smalls and the crew of the steamer Planter, who had performed heroic service during the Civil War. None of these measures were enacted.

Cheatham won reelection in 1890 and became a member of the Committee on Agriculture. He was a clear advocate of legislation to inform the country of the contributions Black citizens had made to American life since emancipation. In 1892 he requested congress appropriate $100,000 for an exhibit of Black arts, crafts, tools, and industrial and agricultural products. He was also interested in securing funding for the appointment of a bi-racial panel to conduct and publish a census of the educational, financial, and social progress of black Americans; again the House failed to adopt his proposals.

Cheatham lost his reelection bid in 1892 and two years later lost nomination to his brother-in-law George H. White. He returned to Washington D.C. and was appointed Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia. He also served as the President of the Negro Association of North Carolina. Henry Cheatham died on November 29, 1935.

William A. Harper was born on this date. He was an African-American artist.

Born in
Cayuga, Canada, he also studied in Paris and was considered one of the most gifted black artists at the turn of the twentieth century. At age 8 Harper and his family moved to Illinois and settled on a farm where he developed his love for nature and art. He attended a small college in Jacksonville, Illinois and later went to Chicago and enrolled at the Chicago Institute School of the Art where in 1900, he graduated with honors.

After teaching in Houston for two years, Harper traveled to France and later went on to study with Henry Ossawa Tanner in Paris. He was highly influenced by the Barbizon School and Impressionistic style of painting. Harper died prematurely during a sketching trip to Mexico in 1910.

On this date we remember the birth of Clementine Hunter. She was an African-American folk artist.

Hunter was born on Hidden Hill Plantation near Cloutierville, Louisiana; a place so isolated and harsh that local legend claimed it was the real-life inspiration for Uncle Tom’s Cabin. As a child, her family moved north to the Cane River area, eventually to Melrose Plantation near Natchitoches, where Hunter spent a lot of her life picking cotton. She attended school for just 10 days and never learned to read or write. Later, she cooked for the Big House, using her creative spirit to make dolls for the children, as well as quilts, baskets and lace curtains.

But in the late 1940s, one of the many artists who visited the plantation left behind some tubes of paint. Plantation curator Francois Mignon encouraged Hunter to try her own hand at painting. During the next four decades, she created thousands of paintings. Hunter worked all day at the plantation Big House and took home washing and ironing to be returned the next day. Once home, she took care of her worthless husband.

It was often midnight before she was free to “mark some pictures,” as she once said for her painting; using cardboard, paper bags, lumber scraps, milk jugs, the insides of soap boxes and other throw-outs. Almost all of her works were “memory paintings,” showing plantation life as she remembered it: picking cotton, gathering figs, threshing pecans, weddings, baptisms, funerals and other scenes of everyday life. Her titles were often intriguing, too.

Some simple ones were selected by collectors and were merely descriptive of their content: Watermelon, Flowers, Ducks and etc. When collectors did asked for a title, Hunter gave her own, such as Trying to Keep the Baby Happy, She’s Not Pretty But She’s Strong and Saturday Night at the Honky Tonk. Visitors to the plantation would buy her paintings, starting at 25 cents and 50 cents in the 1940s. Contemporary collectors consider these early works her best. Eventually, her various patrons were able to get her work into shows, the first big one being the New Orleans Arts and Crafts Show in 1949.

A June 1953 article in Look magazine brought her to national attention. In 1957, some critics dubbed her “the Black Grandma Moses.’’ And, in 1979, Robert Bishop, director of The Museum of American Folk Art in Washington, called the artist, then in her 90s, “the most celebrated of all Southern contemporary painters.’’ By the 1970s, there were large public and private collections of Hunter’s work, and by the 1980s, several important traveling exhibitions featured her paintings. The prices for her work had risen from 25 cents to several thousand dollars.

In the last years of her life, Hunter left her rented cabin and moved upriver, living in a trailer she bought with money from selling her paintings. She painted until the last few months of her life, dying at the age of 100 on January 1, 1988. Hunter was more modest about her abilities. “God puts those pictures in my head and I just puts them on the canvas, like he wants me to,” the artist said.

William Geary “Bunk” Johnson, pioneer jazz cornetist and trumpeter, was born on this date in New Orleans, LA.

Livingstone and Biddle College (now Johnson C. Smith) play the first African American intercollegiate football game.

Monroe Nathan Work married Florence Evelyn Hendrickson of Savannah, Georgia. She became his lifelong companion and research collaborator. Although they lost their children in childbirth or infancy, they often enjoyed the company of Florence’s nephews and nieces. Work had served in professional associations and was widely respected among predominantly white organizations in the fields of sociology, social science, political science, and history. He served on the Commission on Interracial Cooperation and the Social Science Research Council, and in the Southern Sociological Society and National Tuberculosis Association. He established National Negro Health Week, which provided educational programs for homes, schools, and offices in public buildings. He won a citation for public service from the Alumni Association of the University of Chicago, an honorary doctorate from Howard University, and a gold medal from the Harmon Foundation for scholarly research and educational publicity. His mammoth contribution, “A Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America” (1928) with over 17,000 entries, continues to have a powerful impact on the study of African American literature, history, and the social sciences. Reviewers have lauded it as “absolutely indispensable” and call it “a monument of which any race may well be proud.” It was reprinted in 1965. Also, greatly assisted by his wife, in 1913, Work published “The Negro Year Book,” an annual encyclopedia of African American achievement. It press was 5,000 copies, which sold rapidly. The press runs of successive editions were much larger. In 1928, however, because of financial difficulties, The “Negro Year Book” was taken over by the Tuskegee Institute.

John Amos is born in Newark, New Jersey. He will become an actor and will be known for his roles in “Good Times,” “Coming to America,” and “Roots.”

Pioneer of blood plasma research, Dr. Charles Richard Drew, establishes the first blood bank in New York City.

Sheila A. Dixon, the first female mayor of Baltimore, MD was born on this date.

After a boycott by African Americans that lasted more than six months, segregation is outlawed on Tallahassee, Florida buses. Federal Judge Dozier Devane granted temporary injunction restraining city officials from interfering with integration of city buses and said “every segregation act of every state or city is as dead as a doornail.”

The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is awarded to Jack Roosevelt (“Jackie”) Robinson, the first African American in the major leagues, for his conduct on and off the baseball field.

The founding of Chicago’s DuSable Museum is celebrated on this date. Named for the city founder, it originally opened as the Ebony Museum.

The Museum can be found in Chicago’s Washington Park. In 1973 increased visitors called for relocation of the museum to its current location. In 1993 they celebrated the $3.5 million completion of the Harold Washington Wing. This addition features more gallery space, an expanded gift shop, and a 466-seat auditorium. Its permanent collection contains over 13,000 pieces including paintings, sculpture, and print works, and historical memorabilia and artifacts.

Special exhibitions, workshops, and lectures for youth and adults highlight works by specific artists, historical events, or collections on loan to the museum. Theatre, dance and music performances are offered in their auditorium theater, along with classes in mask making, dance, drama, percussion, and painting.

Calvin Murphy, of the Houston Rockets, begins the longest NBA free throw streak of 78.

A week after she was born weighing just 10.3 ounces, the smallest of the Houston octuplets, Odera Chukwu, joins the ancestors, succumbing to heart and lung failure. In a statement released through the hospital, her parents, Nkem Chukwu and Iyke Louis Udobi, say: “We are very saddened by the passing of our beloved baby Odera. She is now safe with God in heaven and we remain most grateful to him for having blessed our lives with her’s.”

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