* Today in Black History – May 26 *
1799 – Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin is born in Moscow, Russia. His
maternal great grandfather, Abram Gannibal, will be brought over
as a slave from Africa and will rise to become an aristocrat. He
will publish his first poem in the journal, “The Messenger of
Europe” in 1814, at the age of fifteen, and will be widely
recognized by the literary establishment by the time of his
graduation from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. While under the strict
surveillance of the Tsar’s political police and unable to publish,
He will write his most famous play, the drama “Boris Godunov.” His
novel in verse, “Eugene Onegin,” will be serialized between 1825
and 1832. Easily offended about his honor, he will fight as many
as twenty-nine duels, and will be fatally wounded in such an
encounter with Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthès. He had
accused D’Anthès, a French officer serving with the Chevalier
Guard Regiment, of attempting to seduce the poet’s wife, Natalya
Pushkina. He will join the ancestors on January 29, 1837. Today,
he is regarded as the Father of Russian Literature.
1899 – Aaron Douglas is born in Topeka, Kansas. He will become a world-
renowned painter and muralist whose work will embrace the African
ancestral arts and express pride in the African American image at
a time when doing so was highly unpopular. His most famous works
will be “Aspects of Negro Life,” “Let My People Go,” “Judgment Day”
and “Building More Stately Mansions.” He will join the ancestors
on February 3, 1979.
1907 – Elizabeth Keckley, seamstress and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln,
joins the ancestors after succumbing to a paralytic stroke in
Washington, DC. Keckley was the author of “Behind the Scenes or
Thirty Years a Slave,” and “Four Years in the White House” (1868),
one of the first insider accounts of a White House Presidency.
1926 – Miles (Dewey) Davis is born in Alton, Illinois. For over four decades,
he will be one of the most innovative and influential jazz trumpeters,
known for his hard bop and jazz and fusion accomplishments. Most
noted for the albums “Sketches of Spain,” “Miles Smiles,” and “Kind of
Blue,” he will also win three Grammy awards for his albums “We Want
Miles,” “Decoy,” and “Tutu” and be awarded the French Legion d’Honneur
in 1991. He will join the ancestors on September 28, 1991, but
his music, style, and collaborators all continue to influence not
only jazz music, but popular culture as well.
1943 – President Edwin Barclay of Liberia, becomes the first African president
to pay an official visit to an American president, arriving at the
1949 – Philip Michael Thomas is born in Columbus Ohio. He will become an
actor and will be best known for his role in the TV series, “Miami
Vice.” He also will have roles in the movies “Homeboy,” “Stigma,”
“Streetfight,” “Black Fist,” “Miami Vice-The Movie,” “Miami Vice 2 –
The Prodigal Son,” “A Fight For Jenny,” “Death Drug,” “A Little Piece
Of Sunshine,” “Sparkle,” and “The Wizard of Speed and Time.”
1949 – Pamela Suzette ‘Pam” Grier is born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
She will be raised on military bases in England and Germany. During her
teen years the family will settle in Denver, Colorado, where at the
age of 18, Grier entered the Miss Colorado Universe pageant.
Named first runner-up, she attracted the attention of Hollywood
agent David Baumgarten, who signed her to a contract. She will
move to Hollywood and after struggling for a few years will
become the reigning queen of the 1970s blaxploitation genre. She
will be best known for her 1974 role as “Foxy Brown.” She will
make a comeback in 1988 in the Steven Segal movie “Above the Law,”
and will star in a variety of major films through year 2000.
1961 – The Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee is established in Atlanta,
1968 – Ruth A. Lucas is promoted to Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, the first
African American woman to achieve this rank.
1968 – Arthur Ashe wins the National Men’s Singles in the U.S. Lawn Tennis
Association Open Tournament, becoming the first African American male
to win a major tennis title.
1969 – The National Black Economic Development Conference adopts a manifesto
in a Detroit meeting, calling for $500 Million in reparations from
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.