Texas was admitted
into the Union as a slave state.
date, Inman Edward Page was born.
He was a Black educator and academic administrator.
Page was born in Warrenton,
Virginia. His parents were slaves
on a Virginia
plantation. Though accounts vary slightly, when Page was 10 years old and a
houseboy on the plantation, he and his parents ran through Union lines while
soldiers of both the North and South were in the area. The family later moved
to Washington, D.C. It was in the nation’s capital that
Page, while earning money as an errand boy, attended a private school. He later
spent two years at what is now Howard
University. Page was
among the first Black students admitted to Brown University;
he and classmate George Washington Milford were the first two Black graduates,
in the same year. Milton
went on to become a lawyer.
Page, who was class valedictorian, was selected to be the class orator for the
1877 commencement. A white man who heard the speech persuaded Page to accept a
teaching position at Natchez Seminary in Mississippi.
That marked the first in a series of increasingly distinguished educational
successes. Page went on to become president of Langston
University, in Oklahoma, for 17 years. He also was
president of the Western Baptist College
in Macon, Missouri,
and of Roger Williams
University in Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1918, Brown bestowed upon him an honorary master’s degree. Those who knew
Page described him as “tall and strong in body,” and brilliant in mind, an
African-American who worked for the noble achievements of others of his race.
Later, he was appointed supervising principal of Oklahoma City’s separate school system for 12
years. About a year before he died, in 1935, he was named principal emeritus in
honor of his outstanding contributions to the city’s school system. Page’s
death at age 82 in the home of his daughter, Zelia N. Breaux in Oklahoma City made banner
His funeral, in Oklahoma City,
was attended by hundreds of friends, colleagues, and relatives. Later, hundreds
of others waited “in the stiff, cold north wind for his burial on the campus of
Langston University. After his death, one
newspaper editorialist wrote: “Old Man Ike,” as his pupils endearingly referred
to him, was a terror to the disobedient and the mischievous, not because of
cruel penalties visited upon them but because students abhorred the thought of
their idol knowing of their delinquency.
It was this peculiar hold that he had upon youth which wove out of the fabric
of their lives virtue and strength of character.”
Jules Bledsoe was born on this date. He was an
African-American classical baritone and composer.
Born in Waco, Texas, he was the son of Henry L. and Jessie
(Cobb) Bledsoe. He attended Central Texas Academy
in Waco from
about 1905 until his graduation as class valedictorian in 1914. He then
attended Bishop College
where he earned a B.A. in 1918. He was a member of the ROTC at Virginia Union
University in Richmond
in 1918-19 and studied medicine at Columbia
University in New York City between 1920 and 1924.
While attending Columbia,
he studied voice with Claude Warford, Luigi Parisotti, and Lazar Samoiloff. His
professional singing debut occurred on April 20, 1924, at Aeolian Hall in New York. As a concert
singer, Bledsoe performed in the United States
and Europe. He was praised for his ability to
sing in several languages, for his vocal control and range, and for his command
to communicate through music.
He is best-known for his portrayal of Joe in the 1927 production of Jerome
Kern’s Showboat. His interpretation of “Ol’ Man River” made the song an
American classic. In his career Bledsoe performed with the Boston Symphony
Chamber Players (1926), the BBC Symphony in London
(1936), and the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam (1937). He also sang vaudeville,
radio and in opera. He sang the role of Amonasro in Giuseppe Verdi’s Anda
with the Cleveland Stadium Opera (1932), the Chicago Opera Company at the
Hippodrome in New York
(1933), and the Cosmopolitan Opera Company, also at the Hippodrome (1934).
A highlight of his career was his title role for the European premiere, in Amsterdam, of Louis
Gruenberg’s opera The Emperor Jones (1934). In 1940 and 1941 Bledsoe
worked in films. He played the part of Kalu in Drums of the Congo, and,
although his name did not appear in the credits, he probably played in Safari,
Western Union, and Santa Fe Trail.
He wrote several patriotic songs, spirituals and folk songs; including “Does Ah
Luv You?” (1931), “Pagan Prayer”,”Good Old British Blue” on a poem by Countee
Cullen; (1936); and “Ode to America”
(1941). He wrote an opera, Bondage (1939), based on the novel Uncle
Tom’s Cabin. His African Suite, a set of four songs for voice and
orchestra, was featured by the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Jules Bledsoe died on
July 14, 1943 in Hollywood
from a cerebral hemorrhage. He is buried in Greenwood
Cemetery in Waco
marks the birth of Dr. Robert
Clifton Weaver. He was an African-American economist, and administrator
who was the first black to serve in the U.S. Cabinet.
Born in Washington, D.C.,
Weaver, the great-grandson of a slave, was educated at Harvard University.
He held several positions in various agencies of the U.S. government for the next 10
years, starting as the first black adviser on racial problems in the Department
of the Interior. After World War II he served for a time in Chicago as executive director of the Mayor’s
Committee on Race Relations, taught briefly at several universities, and wrote
Negro Labor, a National Problem (1946) and The Negro Ghetto (1948).
From 1949 to 1955 he ran the fellowship program of the John Hay Whitney
Foundation, after which he became rent commissioner in New York State
and as such a member of the governor’s cabinet. He was active in the Civil
Rights Movement and served for a year as national chairman of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1960 President John F.
Kennedy appointed Weaver to head the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency.
In 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson named him head of the new Department of
Housing and Urban Development, making him the first
African American appointed to a presidential cabinet position.
Weaver left the government in 1969 to become president of Bernard
of the City University of New York and from 1970 to 1978 was professor of urban
affairs at Hunter
College. His other
publications include The Urban Complex, and Dilemmas of Urban America. After
leaving his cabinet post, Weaver became president of Bernard M. Baruch College
In 1970, he became a professor of Urban Affairs at Hunter
College in New York. He retired from that post in 1978.
Robert C. Weaver died on July 17, 1997, at the age of 89. In 2000, the HUD
headquarters building he had dedicated in 1968 was renamed the Robert C.
Building in his honor.
Mildred “Millie” Jeffrey was born on
this date. She was an American civil rights, labor, and woman’s rights
Born in Alton, Iowa, Jeffrey was the oldest of seven
children. Her mother, Bertha, was the state’s first female registered
pharmacist. Young Jeffrey graduated from Minneapolis Central
High School. She also
studied psychology at the University
of Minnesota and joined
the campus YWCA, which at the time was considered a controversial group for
sponsoring interracial dances and attempting to integrate local restaurants.
After earning a graduate degree at Bryn
in 1934, she married a union organizer, Homer Newman Jeffrey, and they traveled
the country, organizing textile workers. They divorced in the late 1950s.
She joined the NAACP in the 1940s and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
and other civil rights activists in the Deep South
of the 1960s. Jeffrey’s involvement with the V and the Women’s International
League for Peace and Freedom exposed her to the plight of women factory
workers, who worked long hours for low wages. She then organized the mill
workers into the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and gained a
reputation as a tough but compassionate labor leader.
In 1962, she arranged for her daughter, Sharon, and a group of politically
active University of Michigan students, among them Tom Hayden, to use an
AFL-CIO camp on Lake Huron. The students
issued the Port Huron Statement, the prototype to the antiwar Students for a
Democratic Society. Jeffrey made a lot of female firsts possible. She also
served on the Wayne State University Board of Governors from 1974 to 1990.
During this time Jeffrey, the first woman to head a United Auto Workers
department and helped create the Democratic vice-presidential and history-making
candidacy of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. In 1999, President Bill Clinton awarded
her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saluting her for championing civil and
Mildred Jeffery died on March 25, 2004 of natural causes. She was 93, and passed
away at a Detroit-area care facility with her family present.
Thomas Bradley was born on this date. He was an African-American administrator,
and politician. Bradley was born in Calvert,
Texas. His family later moved to Los Angeles where he
He served 22 years in the police department, rising to the rank of lieutenant,
and earned a law degree from Southwestern
School in Georgetown, Texas,
in 1956. In 1963 Bradley became the first Black elected to the Los Angeles city council. In 1973 he became
the city’s first Black mayor by winning 56% of the vote. He was re-elected
for four additional terms and served for twenty years until his
retirement from politics in 1993.
During Bradley’s 20 years in office Los
Angeles developed into an important world city, adding
a major international airport and hosting the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. The
five-time Los Angeles
mayor was unable to a win higher office, despite winning the Democratic Party
nomination for governor in 1982 and 1986. In 1996, following heart surgery,
Bradley suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed, died in September
At 67, Anna
Julia Cooper receives her doctorate from the University of Paris. Officials of the French Embassy
present the degree to her at ceremonies at Howard University.
Cooper had been a noted college and secondary school educator and will continue
to teach and work for educational improvement for African Americans until her
death at the age of 105.
Kelly Miller joins the ancestors in Washington,
DC. The first African American to
be admitted to Johns Hopkins University
(In 1887), and later a longtime professor and dean at Howard University,
Miller was a noted writer, essayist, and newspaper columnist who opposed the
accommodations policies of Booker T. Washington. He was best known, however, as
a champion for educational development for African Americans, dramatically
increasing enrollment at Howard and founding a “Negro-Americana
Museum and Library,” which will become
date, Joe Gilliam Jr. was born.
He was an African-American professional football player.
From Nashville, TN,
Joe Gilliam was the third of four children for Ruth and Joe Gilliam Sr. He grew
up on the campus of Tennessee
A&I State University (as the college was known prior to 1968). His father
was a defensive coordinator at TSU. The younger Gilliam displayed his own
athletic abilities at a young age, beginning at Nashville’s
Washington Junior high School, where he
participated in tumbling, track, and basketball. In 1966, he became the
starting quarterback at Pearl
High School and led the
squad when they played in the city’s first season of integrated football.
Gilliam kept close to the Tiger football team by serving as a ball boy.
His heroes included TSU quarterback Eldridge Dickey. Gilliam, who was called
“Jefferson Street Joe” for a boulevard near Tennessee State
was an All-American in 1970 and ‘71. He was an 11th-round draft pick
by the Steelers in 1972. Along with Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Richard Dent, he
was among the most famous football players to enter the NFL after playing at Tennessee State the school that also produced
Olympic star Wilma Rudolph.
Gilliam earned a starting role for the Steelers in 1974; years after James Harris
and Marlin Briscoe became pro football’s first Black starting quarterbacks.
Gilliam became a starter when several veterans, including quarterback Terry
Bradshaw, went on strike. Gilliam kept the job when Bradshaw and the others
returned, leading the Steelers to a 4-1-1 record. Gilliam played four years
with the Pittsburgh Steelers however; drug problems led to his benching and
derailed his NFL career.
Battles with cocaine and heroin left Gilliam in financial ruin. But he fought
his problems in drug rehabilitation centers and worked as a counselor to help
others with their addictions. Most recently in 1999, Dr. James Hefner, TSU
President, allowed him to host a summer Youth Football Camp at Tennessee State
with his father Joe Gilliam, Sr. Also he was able to go back to Pittsburgh, to
be a part of the last-ever game played at Three Rivers Stadium.
He received rave reviews by the National TV announcers about his life, and path
back to Nashville, Tennessee. Gilliam died of an apparent heart
attack on December 25, 2000. He was 49.
Noted jazz bandleader and arranger Fletcher Hamilton Henderson joins the ancestors in New
York City. Henderson
worked early in his career with Harry Pace of Black Swan Records as a recording
manager and, in 1924, started playing at the Roseland Ballroom, the same year
he added New Orleans trumpeter Louis Armstrong to the band. Armstrong’s short tenure helped it evolve from a dance to a jazz band and established
the founding father of the big band movement in jazz. He wrote songs such as “Copenhagen,” “Houston
Blues,” and “Shanghai Shuffle.”
Stanley “Tookie” Williams was born on
this date. He was an African-American gang leader, author, and community
From Louisiana, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles in the early
1960s. His first childhood encounter his new L.A. neighborhood led to a fight. This
experience Williams says convinced him that being bigger, tougher, and stronger
than the next guy were the keys to his survival. He and friend Raymond
Washington founded the Crips, a (described) Los Angeles, California
youth protection organization.
This group grew, after Williams’ incarceration and Washington’s
murder, into one of America’s
most widely-known and notorious street gangs. In 1979 Williams murdered Albert
Owen, Thsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang, and Yee Chen Lin during two separate
robberies. All four were shot execution style by close range shotgun blasts.
Since his conviction, Williams has denounced his life and his role as a gang
leader, and writes from prison about the harmful effects of gang life.
He has recorded public service announcements urging young people not to join
gangs. Despite overwhelming evidence against him, Williams has continued to
deny his guilt in the four murders. In addition, a spokesman from the
California Department of Corrections states that Williams has not renounced his
gang membership, continues to associate with Crips members in prison, and has
received a significant amount of money from outside sources. He has written
nine children’s books and an autobiography that have been popular around the
world for their anti-violence message, and helped to broker a truce between the
Bloods and the Crips.
In 2004, a television movie about him, Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams
Story, was released starring Jamie Foxx as Williams. Supporters claim that
Williams has deterred over 150,000 individuals from joining gangs; however,
when the co-author of Williams’ books was challenged on this point by The John
and Ken Show in a telephone interview, she refused to provide the evidence and
hung up on the hosts. Williams has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
every year since 2001.
On November 18, 2005, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office
declared that Williams is a “cold-blooded killer” who has “left his mark
forever on our society by co-founding one of the most vicious, brutal gangs in
existence, the Crips.” Rapper and former Crips member Calvin Broadus (Snoop
Dogg) is campaigning against his execution.
On December 1st, 2005 the NAACP announced plans to mount a tour of
four cities in California
to halt Williams’ execution. The NAACP’s new president and chief executive
officer Bruce Gordon would be on the tour with the organization’s state
president and other officials. The tour begins in Los
Angeles, and goes on to San Diego, Sacramento and San
Francisco. Williams is currently waiting on death row
in San Quentin State Prison the outcome of his request for clemency. His
execution date was set and carried out on December 13, 2005. A clemency
decision by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was denied.
of the Netherlands,
with Netherlands & Netherlands Antilles as
autonomous parts, comes into being.
Jamaica issues a postage stamp to honor Bob Marley.