May 19 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – May 19 *

1881 – Blanche Kelso Bruce is appointed Register of the Treasury
by President Garfield.

1925 – Malcolm Little, later known as Malcolm X and El Hajj
Malik El-Shabazz, is born in Omaha, Nebraska. In prison,
he is introduced to the Nation of Islam and begins
studies that will lead him to become one of the most
militant and electrifying black leaders of the 1950s and
1960s. On many occasions, he would indicate that he was
not for civil rights, but human rights. When asked about
the Nation of Islam undermining the efforts of
integrationists by preaching racial separation, Malcolm’s
response was “It is not integration in America that
Negroes want, it is human dignity.” Malcolm X regularly
criticized civil rights leaders for advocating the
integration of African Americans into white society. He
believed that African Americans should be building Black
institutions and businesses and defending themselves
against racist violence based opposition from both
conservative and liberals. Until he joined the ancestors,
Malcolm X was a staunch believer in Black Nationalism,
Black Self-determination and Black Self-organization. He
will begin to lobby with the newly independent African
nations to protest in the United Nations about the
American abuse of their Black citizens human rights,
when he was assassinated in 1965. His story will be
immortalized in the book “Autobiography of Malcolm X,”
ghostwritten by Alex Haley.

1930 – Lorraine Hansberry is born in Chicago, Illinois. She will
become a noted playwright and will be best known for her
play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” On March 11, 1959, when it
opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, it will become the
first Broadway play written by an African American woman.
Her other works will include “The Sign in Sidney
Brustein’s Window,” “To Be Young, Gifted and Black:
Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words,” “Les Blancs,” and
“The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for Equality.”
She will join the ancestors on January 12, 1965.

1952 – Grace Mendoza is born in Spanishtown, Jamaica. She will
move with her family to Syracuse, New York at the age of
12. She will become a performance artist known as Grace
Jones and a transatlantic model for the Ford and
Wilhemina agencies. She will later write music and
perform as a singer. Her releases will extend from 1977
through 1998. She also will succeed as a movie star
appearing in the movies “A View to a Kill,” “Conan the
Destroyer,” and “Deadly Vengeance.”

1965 – Patricia Harris is named U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.
She is the first African American woman to become an
ambassador for the U.S.

1968 – Piano stylist and vocalist, Bobby Short, gains national
attention as he presents a concert with Mabel Mercer at
New York’s Town Hall. He has been the featured artist at
the intimate Hotel Carlisle for years.

1969 – Coleman Randolph Hawkins joins the ancestors in New York
City at the age of 65. He was responsible for the coming
of age of the tenor saxophone in jazz ensembles and
called the “father of the tenor saxophone.”

1973 – Stevie Wonder moves to the number one position on the
“Billboard” pop music chart with “You Are the Sunshine
of My Life”. It is the third number one song for Wonder,
following earlier successes with “Fingertips, Part 2” in
1963 and “Superstition” in 1973. He will have seven more
number one hits between 1973 and 1987: “You Haven’t Done
Nothin'”, “I Wish”, “Sir Duke”, “Ebony & Ivory” (with Paul
McCartney), “I Just Called to Say I Love You”, “Part-Time
Lover” and “That’s What Friends are for”.

1991 – Willy T. Ribbs becomes the first African American driver to
qualify for the Indianapolis 500. During the race, which
occurs the following week, Ribbs will be forced to drop
out due to engine failure.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

May 18 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – May 18 *

1652 – Rhode Island enacts the first colonial law limiting slavery.
This law, passed by the General Court of Election,
regulates Black servitude and places Blacks on the same
level as white bondservants. This means they were free
after completing their term of service of ten years.

1848 – William Leidesdorff joins the ancestors in San Francisco,
California. The first man to open a commercial steamship
service on San Francisco Bay, Leidesdorff developed a
successful business empire, including a hotel, warehouse,
and other real-estate developments. Active politically,
he served on San Francisco’s first town council and became
city treasurer. A street in the city will be named in his

1877 – Louis-Dantès Bellegarde is born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He
will become Haiti’s most well known diplomat in the
twentieth century. He will enter government service in
1904 and will serve under many administrations until he
retires in 1957 at the age of 81. W.E.B Du Bois, in 1926,
will refer to Bellegarde as the “international spokesman
of the Negroes of the world.” He will join the ancestors
on June 14, 1966.

1880 – George Lewis wins the sixth running of the Kentucky Derby
astride Fonso. He is one of ten African Americans to win
the Kentucky Derby in the years between 1877 and 1902.

1896 – In Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds
Louisiana’s “separate but equal” segregation laws. The
ruling is a major setback for integration and marks the
beginning of Jim Crow laws, changing a largely “de facto”
system of segregation into a legally defined system in
the South. It will be overturned 58 years later in the
case of “Brown v. Board of Education.”

1911 – Joseph Vernon “Big Joe” Turner, Jr. is born in Kansas City,
Missouri. He will become one of the best blues shouters
and a critical link between Rhythm and Blues and Rock &
Roll. In 1951 Turner will sign a recording contract with
Atlantic Records and cut a string of Rhythm & Blues
classics that will lead the way straight into Rock & Roll.
His most famous hit, “Shake, Rattle and Roll” will be
released in 1954, and make it to number 1 and will be
covered shortly thereafter by Bill Haley and the Comets.
But before “Shake” , will come the million-selling “Chains
of Love,” which will reach number 2 on the Rhythm & Blues
charts and number 30 on the pop side, plus “Chill Is On,”
“Sweet Sixteen,” “Don’t You Cry,” “TV Mama,” and the number
1 smash, “Honey Hush.” Turner’s chart success will continue
after “Shake” with “Well All Right,” “Flip Flop and Fly,”
“Hide and Seek,” “The Chicken and the Hawk,” “Morning,
Noon, and Night,” “Corrina Corrina,” and “Lipstick Powder
and Paint.” Turner will nearly dominate the Rhythm &
Blues charts from 1951 to 1956. He will continue to
perform through the 1980’s. He will join the ancestors on
November 24, 1985, succumbing to a heart attack having
suffered earlier effects of a stroke and diabetes. He will
be posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame in 1987.

1912 – Walter Sisulu is born in the Engcobo district, Transkei,
South Africa. He will become a major player in the fight
against apartheid in South Africa and will become deputy
president of the African National Congress. He will be a
mentor to Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo and will be
imprisoned with Mandela on Robben Island for many years.
While in prison, Sisulu will write the history of the
African National Congress. Even though he was given a life
sentence when imprisoned, he will be released in 1989 as
South Africa began to dismantle the system of apartheid.
He will be elected ANC deputy president in 1991 and will
resign from the post in 1994 at the age of 82. He will
join the ancestors on May 5, 2003.

1946 – Reginald Martinez Jackson is born in Wyncote, Pennsylvania.
He will be better known as Reggie Jackson, star baseball
player for the Oakland A’s and the New York Yankees. He
will set or tie seven World Series records and will be
known as “Mr. October.” He will retire from baseball in
1987 and will be elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in

1955 – Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and founder of the National
Council of Negro Women and Bethune-Cookman College, joins
the ancestors in Daytona Beach, Florida at the age of 79.

1960 – Yannick Noah is born in Sedan, France. He will become a
professional tennis player. Arthur Ashe will spot his
talents while on a three-week, goodwill tour of Africa in
1971, and arrange for Noah to be sent back to France to
further develop his game. Noah will go on to win the
French Open in 1983, a Grand Slam event. During his
career, he will win 23 singles titles and be runner up at
13 others.

1971 – President Nixon rejects the sixty demands of the
Congressional Black Caucus, saying his administration
would continue to support “jobs, income and tangible
benefits, the pledges that this society has made to the
disadvantaged in the past decade.” The caucus expressed
deep disappointment with the reply and said the Nixon
administration “lacked a sense of understanding, urgency
and commitment in dealing with the critical problems
facing Black Americans.”

1986 – John William “Bubbles” Sublett joins the ancestors in New
York City at the age of 84. He had been half of the piano
and tap dance team, “Buck and Bubbles” from 1912 to 1955.
He was known as “father of rhythm tap,” and developed a
tap style called “jazz tap.” He will continue to perform
(after the death of Ford “Buck” Washington in 1955) until
1980, when he appeared in the revue “Black Broadway.”

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

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May 17 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – May 17 *

1875 – The first Kentucky Derby is won by African American jockey
Oliver Lewis riding a horse named Aristides. Fourteen of
the 15 jockeys in the race are African Americans. The
winning purse for the race is $ 2,850. Lewis won the one
and a half mile “Run for the Roses” in a time of 2
minutes, 37-3/4 seconds.

1881 – Frederick Douglass is appointed Recorder of Deeds for the
District of Columbia.

1909 – White firemen on Georgia Railroad strike in protest of the
employment of African American firemen.

1915 – The National Baptist Convention is chartered.

1937 – Hazel Rollins O’Leary is born in Newport News, Virginia. She
will graduate from Fisk University and will receive a law
degree from Rutgers University in 1966. She will gain
experience in the energy regulatory field working for the
Federal Energy Administration. After working for a few years
heading her own energy consulting firm and becoming
president of the Northern States Power Company, she will be
appointed Secretary of Energy in 1993 by President Bill

1942 – Henry St. Claire Fredericks is born in New York City. He
will become an entertainer and songwriter for film. He also
will be a singer of urban folk-blues, better known as Taj
Mahal. He will be one of the first American artists to
blend blues and world music. For over three decades, Taj
Mahal will teach generations the wonders of Robert Johnson,
Sleepy John Estes, Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed. With a
catalogue of almost thirty albums (including some for
children!), one can find film soundtracks (“Sounder,”
“Brothers”), music for television dramas (“The Tuskegee
Project,” “The Man Who Broke A Thousand Chains”) as well as
his best-loved classics like “Natch’l Blues.”

1944 – Felix Eboue’ joins the ancestors in Cairo, Egypt at the age
of 59 after succumbing to pneumonia. He had been the
highest ranking French colonial administrator of African
descent in the first half of the twentieth century. He had
been a successful administrator for the French government in
the Caribbean and in Africa. During World War II, he had been
a staunch ally of the exiled French government headed by
General Charles de Gaulle.

1954 – The Supreme Court outlaws school segregation in Brown v.
Board of Education. The ruling is a major victory for the
NAACP, led by Thurgood Marshall of the Legal Defense Fund,
and other civil rights groups. The rulings declares that
racially segregated schools were inherently unequal.

1956 – “Sugar” Ray Charles Leonard is born in Wilmington, North
Carolina. Leonard will win the National Golden Gloves
championship at 16, an Olympic gold medal in 1976, and have
a successful professional boxing career. He will be named
Fighter of the Decade for the 1980s. He will enter the
decade a champion and will leave the decade a champion.
In between, he will win an unprecedented five world titles
in five weight classes and compete in some of the era’s
most memorable contests. His career boxing record will be 36
wins (25 by knockout), 3 losses, and 1 tie. After retiring
from the ring, he will become a successful boxing analyst.
He will be enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of
Fame in 1997.

1957 – The Prayer Pilgrimage, attracting a crowd of over 30,000, is
held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
Timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Brown v.
Board of Education, the pilgrimage is organized by Martin
Luther King, Jr., the NAACP, and others to advocate greater
voting and civil rights for African Americans.

1962 – Marshall Logan Scott is elected the first African American
moderator of the Presbyterian Church.

1962 – E. Franklin Frazier joins the ancestors in Washington, DC at
the age of 67. Dr. Franklin had been a leading sociologist
who retired from Howard University and had been the first
African American president of the American Sociological

1969 – A commemorative stamp of W.C. Handy, “Father of the Blues,”
is issued by the U.S. Postal Service, making Handy the
first African American blues musician honored on a postage

1969 – Rev. Thomas Kilgore, a Los Angeles pastor, is elected
president of the predominantly white American Baptist

1970 – Hank Aaron becomes the ninth baseball player to get 3,000

1980 – A major racially motivated civil disturbance occurs in
Miami, Florida after a Tampa, Florida jury acquitted four
former Miami police officers of fatally beating African
American insurance executive Arthur McDuffie. The
disturbance in that city’s Liberty City neighborhood
results in eighteen persons being killed and more than
three hundred persons injured.

1987 – The work of four contemporary African American artists –
Sam Gilliam, Keith Morrison, William T. Williams, and
Martha Jackson-Jarvis – is shown in the inaugural
exhibition of the new Anacostia Museum in Washington, DC.

1987 – Eric “Sleepy” Floyd of the Golden State Warriors sets a
playoff record for points in a single quarter. He pours
in 29 points in the fourth period in a game this night
against Pat Riley’s Los Angeles Lakers.

1994 – The U.N. Security Council approves a peacekeeping force and
an arms embargo for violence-racked Rwanda.

1997 – Laurent Kabila declares himself the new President of Zaire
and renames it the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The
country had been previously under the 37 year rule of
dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

2012 – Donna Summer, the “Queen of Disco” whose hits included “Hot
Stuff,” “Bad Girls,” “Love to Love You Baby” and “She Works
Hard for the Money,” joins the ancestors at the age of 63.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

May 16 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – May 16 *

1792 – Denmark abolishes the importation of slaves.

1857 – Juan Morel Campos is born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He will
become a musician and composer who will be one of the
first to integrate Afro-Caribbean styles and folk rhythms
into the classical European musical model. He will be
considered the father of the “danza.” He willjoin the
ancestors on May 12, 1896.

1917 – Harry T. Burleigh, composer, pianist, and singer, is
awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for excellence in the
field of creative music.

1929 – John Conyers, Jr. is born in Detroit, Michigan. He will
be elected to the House of Representatives from Michigan’s
1st District in 1964, where he will advocate home rule and
Congressional representation for the District of Columbia.
He will be the principal sponsor of the 1965 Voting Rights
Act and the 1983 Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday bill, as
well as a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus.

1930 – Lillie Mae Jones is born in Flint, Michigan. She will
become an uncompromising jazz singer using the stage name,
Betty Carter, who will earn the nickname “Betty Bebop” for
her bop improvisational style. She will tour with Lionel
Hampton and Miles Davis during her career. In 1997, she
will receive the National Medal of Arts award from
President Bill Clinton. She will join the ancestors on
September 26, 1998.

1966 – Stokely Carmichael (later named Kwame Ture) is elected
chairman of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee, a group formed during the Freedom Marches and
dedicated to voter registration in the South.

1966 – Janet Damita Jackson is born in Gary, Indiana. Sister of
the famous Jacksons of the Jackson 5 singing group, she
will have her own successful career, first in acting
(“Good Times,” “Diff’rent Strokes,” and “Fame”), then as
a solo recording artist. Her albums “Control” and
“Rhythm Nation 1814” will earn her five American Music
Awards and a Grammy award.

1966 – The National Welfare Rights Organization is organized.

1977 – Modibo Keita joins the ancestors in Bamako, Mali. He was
the first president of Mali, from 1960 to 1968.

1979 – Asa Philip Randolph, labor leader and civil rights pioneer,
joins the ancestors in New York at the age of 90.

1985 – Michael Jordan is named Rookie of the Year in the National
Basketball Association. Jordan, of the Chicago Bulls, was
the number three draft choice. At the time, Michael was
third in the league scoring a 28.2 average and fourth in
steals with 2.39 per game.

1990 – Sammy Davis Jr., actor, dancer, singer and world class
entertainer, joins the ancestors in Beverly Hills,
California at the age of 64 from throat cancer. Davis,
born in Harlem, was a member of the Hollywood “Rat Pack.”
He also had starring roles in a host of Broadway musicals
and motion pictures and had been an entertainer for over
sixty years.

1997 – In Zaire, President Mobutu Sese Seko ends 32 years of
autocratic rule, ceding control of the country to rebel

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

May 15 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – May 15 *

1795 – John Morront, the first African American missionary to work
with Indians, is ordained as a Methodist minister in
London, England.

1802 – Jean Ignace joins the ancestors in Baimbridge, Guadeloupe.
He dies in the revolt against the Napoleonic troops sent to
the Caribbean island to reimpose slavery.

1891 – The British Central African Protectorate (now Malawi) is

1918 – In a World War I incident that will later be known as “The
Battle of Henry Johnson,” the African American attacks
advancing Germans, frees sentry Needham Roberts, and forces
the retreat of the enemy troops. Johnson and Roberts will
be awarded the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military
award. They are the first Americans ever to win the award.

1923 – “The Chip Woman’s Fortune” by Willis Richardson opens at the
Frazee Theatre on Broadway. The play, staged by the
Ethiopian Art Theatre of Chicago, is the first dramatic work
by an African American playwright to be presented on

1934 – Alvin Francis Poussaint is born in the village of East Harlem
in New York City. After being educated at Columbia College,
Cornell University Medical School, and the University of
California’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, he will become a
psychiatrist and educator specializing in African American
psychological and social issues. He will begin his career
teaching at Tufts Medical School and Harvard Medical School.
He will then join Operation Push. He will be a consultant
for the television series, “The Cosby Show” and “A Different
World, hired to ensure that the story lines present positive
images of African Americans. He will later become Associate
Dean and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

1938 – Diane Nash is born in Chicago, Illinois. She will become an
civil rights activist and one of the founders of the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960. She will be part
of the first group of civil rights activists who will refuse
to pay bail for protesting under the “Jail, No Bail”
strategy employed in the South. She will later marry fellow
civil rights activist James Bevel and take his last name as
her middle name. She and her husband will receive the Rosa
Parks award from the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference in 1965.

1942 – The 93rd Infantry is activated at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. It
is the first African American division formed during World
War II and is assigned to combat duty in the South Pacific.

1946 – Camilla Williams appears in the title role of Madama
Butterfly with the New York City Opera. She is the first
African American female concert singer to sign a contract
with a major American opera company.

1953 – Former Heavyweight Champion, Jersey Joe Walcott, is knocked
out by Rocky Marciano at Chicago Stadium at two minutes, 25
seconds of the first round.

1970 – Two African American students (Phillip Lafayette Gibbs and
James Earl Green) at Jackson State University in
Mississippi are killed when police open fire during student

1983 – James VanDerZee joins the ancestors in Washington, DC at the
age of 96. He had been a prominent photographer who
recorded and contributed to the Harlem Renaissance. Over
his long career, which extended into his 90s, he captured
the images of many famous African Americans.

1992 – Mary M. Monteith (later Simpkins) joins the ancestors in
Columbia, South Carolina. She was a civil right activist
who had been a state secretary of the NAACP and
instrumental in the fight to desegregate South Carolina
public schools.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

May 14 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – May 14 *

1867 – A riot occurs in Mobile, Alabama, after an African American
mass meeting. One African American and one white are

1885 – Erskine Henderson wins the Kentucky Derby riding Joe Cotton.
The horse’s trainer is another African-American, Alex

1897 – Sidney Joseph Bechet is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. A
member of both Duke Ellington’s and Noble Sissle’s
orchestras, Bechet moved to France and there achieved the
greatest success of his career. He had been the greatest
jazz soloist of the 1920s along with Louis Armstrong. He
will join the ancestors on May 14, 1959.

1898 – Arthur James ‘Zutty’ Singleton is born in Bunkie, Louisiana.
He will become a percussion musician and bandleader. He
will start as a drummer at the age of 15 and will work in
a variety of bands until he forms his own in 1920. He will
eventually make his way to Chicago and will become part of
the “Chicago School of Jazz.” He will be primarily
remembered for introducing sock cymbals and wire brushes
as percussion accessories. These innovations will place
him in demand as an accompanist for jazz greats like Louis
Armstrong, Fats Waller, Dizzy Gillespie, Jelly Roll Morton,
and Charlie Parker. He will perform primarily in New York
City from 1953 until 1970. He will join the ancestors on
July 14, 1975.

1906 – Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda is born near Kasungu, British
Central African Protectorate. Even though his official
birthdate is cited as 1906, many sources show his birth
date as 1898. He will become Malawi’s first prime minister
after independence in 1963. In 1966, he will elected
Malawi’s president in 1966. He will lead Malawi until
1994. He will join the ancestors in Johannesburg, South
Africa in 1997.

1913 – Clara Stanton Jones is born in St. Louis, Missouri. She
will become the first African American director of the
Detroit Public Library and the first African American
president of the American Library Association. She will
join the ancestors on September 30, 2012.

1943 – Tania J. Leon is born in Havana, Cuba. She will become a
pianist, composer, and orchestral conductor. Her music
style will encompass Afro-Cuban rhythm and elements of
jazz and gospel. She will emigrate to the United States
in 1967 and in 1969 will join the Dance Theater of Harlem
as a pianist. She will later become the artistic director
of the troupe. Some her compositions for the Dance
Theater of Harlem will include “Tones,” “Beloved,” and
“Dougla.” She will debut as a conductor in 1971 and
starting in 1980 when she leaves the Dance Theater of
Harlem, will serve as guest conductor and composer with
orchestras in the United States and Europe. In 1993, she
will become an advisor to the New York Philharmonic
conductor, Kurt Masur on contemporary music.

1959 – Soprano saxophonist Sidney Joseph Bechet joins the
ancestors in Paris, France on his sixty second birthday
after succumbing to cancer.

1961 – A bus, with the first group of Freedom Riders, is bombed
and burned by segregationists outside Anniston, Alabama.
The group is attacked in Anniston and Birmingham.

1963 – Twenty-year-old Arthur Ashe becomes the first African
American to make the U.S. Davis Cup tennis team.

1966 – Georgia Douglas Johnson joins the ancestors in Washington,
DC at the age of 88. She was a poet and playwright. While
she never lived in Harlem, she is associated with the
Harlem Renaissance because her home was a regular oasis
for many of the writers of that literary movement. Her
home hosted writer workshops and discussion groups while
also being a place of lodging for those writers when they
visited Washington, DC. Her own poetry and plays were
very popular with African American audiences during the

1969 – John B. McLendon becomes the first African American coach
in the ABA when he signs a two-year contract with the
Denver Nuggets.

1970 – Two students are killed by police officers in a major
racial disturbance at Jackson State University in
Jackson, Mississippi.

1986 – Reggie Jackson hits his 537th home run passing Mickey
Mantle into 6th place of all time home run hitters.

1989 – Kirby Puckett becomes the first professional baseball
player since 1948 to hit 6 consecutive doubles.

1995 – Myrlie Evers-Williams (widow of Medgar Evers) is sworn in
to head the NAACP, pledging to lead the civil rights group
away from its recent troubles and restore it as a
political and social force.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

May 13 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – May 13 *

1865 – Two white regiments and an African American regiment, the
Sixty-second U.S. Colored Troops, fight in the last action
of the civil war at White’s Ranch, Texas.

1871 – Alcorn A&M College (now Alcorn A&M University) opens in
Lorman, Mississippi.

1888 – Princess Isabel of Brazil signs the “Lei Aurea” (Golden
Law) which abolishes slavery. Slavery is ended in part to
appease the efforts of abolitionists, but mostly because
it is less expensive for employers to hire wageworkers
than to keep slaves. Plantation owners oppose the law
because they are not compensated for releasing their
slaves. The passage of the law hastens the fall of the
Brazilian monarchy.

1891 – Isaac Murphy becomes the first jockey to win three Kentucky
Derbys as he wins the fabled race astride Kingman.
Kingman was trained by Dud Allen, an African American

1914 – Joseph Louis Barrow is born in Lexington, Alabama. He will
be better known as Joe Louis. “The Brown Bomber” will
hold the heavyweight crown from his 1937 title match with
James J. Braddock until his first retirement in 1949. In
his 71 professional fights, he will amass a record of 68
victories, 54 by knockouts. He will join the ancestors on
April 12, 1981.

1933 – John Junior “Johnny” Roseboro is born in Ashland, Ohio. He
will become a professional baseball player in 1957 and will
play as a catcher for the Dodgers from 1957-1967, Minnesota
Twins from 1968 to 1969, and the Washington Senators in
1970. He will join the ancestors on August 16, 2002.

1938 – Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra record the New Orleans’
jazz standard, “When The Saints Go Marching In”, on Decca
Records making it extremely popular.

1943 – Mary Wells is born in Detroit, Michigan. She will become a
singer for the Motown label and record the hits, “My Guy,”
“Two Lovers,” “You Beat Me to the Punch,” and “The One Who
Really Loves You.” She will join the ancestors on July 26,
1992 after succumbing to pneumonia and complications of
larynx cancer.

1949 – Franklin Ajaye is born in Brooklyn, New York. He will
become a comedy writer, comedian and actor. He will appear
in the movies “The Jazz Singer,” “Car Wash,” “Hysterical,”
“The Wrong Guys,” and “Jock Jokes.”

1950 – Steveland Judkins Morris is born in Saginaw, Michigan. As
12-year-old Little Stevie Wonder, he will become a singing
and musical sensation notable for “Fingertips, Part 2.”
Wonder will continue to record through-out adulthood, with
the albums “Talking Book,” “Songs in the Key of Life,” “The
Woman in Red,” and the soundtrack to the movie “Jungle
Fever.” Among other awards he will win more than 16 Grammys
and a 1984 best song Oscar for “I Just Called to Say I Love
You.” He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame in 1989.

1961 – Dennis Rodman is born in Texas. He will become a
professional basketball player and will help two different
teams win multiple NBA championships.

1966 – Federal education funding is denied to 12 school districts
in the South because of violations of the 1964 Civil Rights

1971 – (James) Charles Evers becomes the first African American
mayor of Fayette, Mississippi.

1971 – Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, receives a gold record
for her version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, originally
a Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel tune.

1978 – Henry Rono of Kenya sets the record for the 3,000 meter
steeplechase (8:05.4). The record will stand for eleven

1979 – Max Robinson becomes the first African American network news
anchor when he anchors ABC’s World News Tonight.

1983 – Reggie Jackson becomes the first major leaguer to strike out
2,000 times.

1985 – Philadelphia Police bomb a house held by the group “Move”,
killing eleven persons. Ramona Africa and a 13-year-old
boy are the only people to escape the inferno that the
blast caused inside 6221 Osage Street. The heat from the
blast also ignites a fire that destroys 60 other homes and
leaves 250 people homeless, angry and heartbroken in a
working-class section of West Philadelphia.

1990 – George Stallings is ordained as the first bishop of the
newly established African American Catholic Church.
Stallings broke from the Roman Catholic Church in 1989,
citing the church’s failure to meet the needs of African
American Catholics.

1995 – Army Captain Lawrence Rockwood is convicted at his court-
martial in Fort Drum, New York, of conducting an
unauthorized investigation of reported human rights abuses
at a Haitian prison (the next day, Rockwood is dismissed
from the military, but receives no prison time).

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

May 12 African American Historical Events


* Today in Black History – May 12 *

1896 – Juan Morel Campos joins the ancestors in Ponce, Puerto
Rico. He was a musician and composer who was one of the
first to integrate Afro-Caribbean styles and folk rhythms
into the classical European musical model. He was
considered the father of the “danza.”

1898 – Louisiana adopts a new constitution with a “grandfather
clause” designed to eliminate African American voters.

1902 – Joe Gans (born Joseph Gaines) becomes the first native-
born African American to win a world boxing championship,
when he defeats Frank Erne in one round for the World
Lightweight Crown. He will be elected to the Boxing Hall
of Fame in 1954.

1910 – The Second NAACP conference opens in New York City. The
three day conference will create a permanent national
structure for the organization.

1916 – Albert L. Murray is born in Nokomis, Alabama. He will
become an author of several works of nonfiction, among
them the influential collection of essays, “The Omni
Americans: New Perspectives on Black Experience and
American Culture.” His other works will include “South
to a Very Old Place,” “The Hero and The Blues,” “Train
Whistle Guitar,” “The Spyglass Tree,” “Stomping The
Blues,” “Good Morning Blues,” and “The Blue Devils of

1926 – Paulette Poujol-Oriol is born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
She will become a well-known literary personality in
Haiti. She will be best known for her innovative creative
expression. Her works will include “Prayers for Two
Vanished Angels” and “The Crucible.” She will join the
ancestors on March 12, 2011, after succumbing to a
heart attack.

1926 – Mervyn Malcom Dymally is born in Cedros, Trinidad. He will
become the first African American elected as lieutenant
governor of California and will be elected to Congress in
1980, where he will serve for 12 years. He will join the
ancestors on October 7, 2012.

1929 – Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma is born in Etunda, South
West Africa (now Namibia). He will become a nationalist
politician and the first president of Namibia. He will
remain in exile for thirty years from 1959 to 1989 when he
will return to Namibia and win a seat in the National
Assembly. He will vacate this seat in 1990 when he is elected
the first president of Namibia. He will serve in this office until

1933 – Henry Hugh Proctor joins the ancestors in Brooklyn, New
York at the age of 64. He had been the pastor of Nazarene
Congregational Church for thirteen years. Prior to coming
to New York, he had been pastor of the First Congregational
Church in Atlanta, Georgia for twenty four years, where he
had been instrumental in working with local whites in order
to reduce racial conflicts in the city.

1934 – Elechi Amadi is born in Aluu, Nigeria. He will become a
novelist whose works will illustrate the tradition and
inner feelings of traditional tribal life of his people.
He will be known for his works “The Concubine,” “Sunset
in Biafra: A Civil War Diary,” “The Great Ponds,” “The
Slave,” “Estrangement,” “Isiburu,” “Peppersoup,” “The
Road to Ibadan,” “Dancer of Johannesburg,” and “Ethics
in Nigerian Culture.” His writings reflect his
upbringing as a member of the Igbo ethnic group in

1951 – Former U.S. Congressman Oscar Stanton DePriest joins the
ancestors at the age of 80 in Chicago, Illinois. He had
been the first African American elected to the U.S.
Congress since Reconstruction and the first-ever African
American congressman from the North.

1955 – Samuel (“Toothpick Sam”) Jones, of the Chicago Cubs,
becomes the first African American to pitch a major
league no-hitter, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1958 – At a summit meeting of national African American leaders,
President Dwight D. Eisenhower is sharply criticized for
a speech which, in effect, urges them to “be patient” in
their demands for full civil and voting rights.

1967 – H. Rap Brown replaces Stokely Carmichael as chairman of
the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

1969 – Kim Victoria Fields (later Freeman) is born in Los Angeles,
California. She will become an actress as a child,
starring in the sit-com, “The Facts of Life” (1979-1988).
She will continue her television career on the “Living
Single” show, which will premier in 1993.

1970 – Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs hits his 500th home run.

1970 – A racially motivated civil disturbance occurs in Augusta,
Georgia. Six African Americans are killed. Authorities
say five of the victims were shot by police.

1976 – Wynona Carr joins the ancestors. She had been a gospel
singer who was best known for her rendition of “The Ball
Game.” Her other recordings were “Each Day,” “Lord
Jesus,” “Dragnet for Jesus,” “Fifteen Rounds for Jesus,”
“Operator, Operator,” “Should I Ever Love Again,” and
“Our Father.”

1991 – Hampton University students stage a silent protest against
President George Bush’s commencement address to highlight
their opposition to his civil rights policies.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

May 11 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – May 11 *

1885 – Joseph Nathan Oliver is born in Aben, Louisiana near
Donaldsville. He will become a professional musician after
learning his craft playing with local street musicians in
New Orleans. After playing in the band of Edward “Kid” Ory,
he will be dubbed “King” Oliver. After being recruited to
Chicago, Illinois to play in the band of Bill Johnson, King
Oliver will assume leadership of the Creole Jazz Band. He
will recruit some of best available jazz talent of the time
including Louis Armstrong. The Creole Jazz Band will disband
after the exit of Louis Armstrong. King Oliver will lead
various other bands until 1937 when he retires from music.
Due to severe gum problems, he will stop playing the cornet
in 1931. He will join the ancestors on April 10, 1938. King
Oliver will be considered one of the pioneering musicians in
New Orleans and Chicago style jazz.

1895 – William Grant Still is born in Woodville, Mississippi.
Considered one of the nation’s greatest composers, he will
begin his career by writing arrangements for W.C. Handy and
as musical director for Harry Pace’s Phonograph Corporation.
One of his most famous compositions, Afro-American Symphony,
will be the first symphonic work by an African American to
be performed by a major symphony orchestra, the Rochester
Philharmonic Symphony, in 1931. He will also be the first
African American to conduct a major U.S. symphony, the Los
Angeles Philharmonic, in 1936. He will create over 150
musical works including a series of five symphonies, four
ballets, and nine operas. Two of his best known compositions
will be “Afro-American Symphony” (1930) and “A Bayou Legend”
(1941). He will join the ancestors on December 3, 1978.

1899 – Clifton Reginald Wharton is born in Baltimore, Maryland. He
will receive his law degree in 1920 and his master’s of laws
degree both from the Boston University School of Law. He
will be the first African American to enter the Foreign
Service and the first African American to become the U.S.
ambassador to an European country. He will begin his career
in the Foreign Service in 1925. He will become the first
African American to pass the foriegn service’s written and
oral examinations. He will serve in a variety of diplomatic
positions in Liberia, Spain, Madagascar, Portugal, and
France before becoming minister to Romania in 1958 and the
Ambassador to Norway in 1961. He will be the first African
American to attain the rank of minister and ambassador
before retiring from the State Department in 1964. He will
join the ancestors on April 23, 1990 after succumbing to a
heart attack.

1930 – Lawson Edward Brathwaite is born in Bridgetown, Barbados. He
will become a poet, critic, historian and editor better
known as Edward Kamau Brathwaite. He will be considered by
most literary critics in the English speaking Caribbean to
be the most important West Indian Poet. He will be best
known for his works “Rights of Passage,” “Masks,” and
“Islands” which will later be combined in a trilogy “The
Arrivants.” His other works will be “Other Exiles,”
“Mother Poem, Sun Poem,” “X/Self,” “Middles Passages,” and
“Roots.” He will be the recipient of a Guggenheim
Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, the Casa de las
Americas prize, and the Neustadt International Prize for
Literature. After teaching at the University of the West
Indies for twenty years, he will join the faculty of New
York University.

1933 – Louis Eugene Walcott is born in Roxbury, Massachusetts. In
1955 he will convert to Islam and join The Nation of Islam
after attending the Saviour’s Day Convention in Chicago,
Illinois. He will be known as Louis X and will later adopt
the name Louis Farrakhan. Within three months of joining
the Nation, he will have to choose between his life in show
business or life in the Nation of Islam. He chooses to
leave his life as an entertainer and dedicates his life to
the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. After moving
to Boston at the request of Malcolm X, he will rise to the
rank of Minister and will head the Boston Temple from 1956
until 1965 when he was asked by Elijah Muhammad to take over
Temple # 7 in New York City. After the death of Elijah
Muhammad and three years of subsequent changes in the Nation
from his teachings, Minister Farrakhan decided to return to
the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and since then, has
continued programs to uplift and reform Blacks. In 1995, he
will exhibit his influence as a Black leader when he
successfully organizes and speaks at the Million Man March
in Washington, DC.

1963 – One day after Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth announces agreement
on a limited integration plan in Birmingham, Alabama, his
home is bombed and a civil disturbance ensues.

1965 – African Americans hold a mass meeting in Norfolk, Virginia
and demand equal rights and ballots.

1968 – Nine Caravans of poor people arrive in Washington, DC for
first phase of Poor People’s Campaign. Caravans started
from different sections of the country on May 2 and picked
up demonstrators along the way. In Washington,
demonstrators erect a camp called Resurrection City on a
sixteen-acre site near the Lincoln Monument.

1970 – Johnny Hodges joins the ancestors in New York City at the age
of 63. He had been a well known saxophone player and played
with the band of Duke Ellington for almost forty years. He
was Duke Ellington’s favorite soloist. Over his career, he
will be chosen as the best reed player by DownBeat Magazine
ten times.

1972 – The San Francisco Giants announce that they are trading
Willie Mays to the New York Mets.

1981 – Hoyt J. Fuller joins the ancestors in Atlanta at the age of
57. He was a literary critic and editor of “First World”
and “Black World” (formerly Negro Digest) magazines.

1981 – Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley, Jamaican-born singer who
popularized reggae with his group The Wailers, joins the
ancestors after succumbing to cancer in a Miami hospital at
the age of 36. He will enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame in 1994.

1981 – Ken Norton, former heavyweight boxing champion, is left on
the ropes and unconscious after 54 seconds of the first
round at Madison Square Garden in New York City, by Gerry

1986 – Frederick Douglass ‘Fritz’ Pollard joins the ancestors in
Silver Spring, Maryland at the age of 92. Pollard had been
the first African American to play in the Rose Bowl and the
second African American to be named All-American in college
football. After college he played professional football and
later became the coach of his team. When the league in
which he coached became the NFL in 1922, he became the
first African American coach in NFL history. No other
African American will coach in the NFL until the 1990s.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.