* Today in Black History – May 10 *
1652 – John Johnson, a free African American, is granted 550 acres
in Northampton County, Virginia, for importing eleven
persons to work as indentured servants.
1775 – Lemuel Haynes, Epheram Blackman, and Primas Black, in the
first aggressive action of American forces against the
British, help capture Fort Ticonderoga as members of
Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys.
1815 – Henry Walton Bibb is born a slave in Shelby County,
Kentucky. He will escape to Canada, return to get his
first wife, be recaptured in Cincinnati, escape again, be
recaptured again and sold into slavery in New Orleans. He
will be removed to Arkansas, where he will escape yet
again, this time for good in 1842. He will make his way
to Detroit, Michigan and will become an active
abolitionist. He will publish his autobiography, “Narrative
of The Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American
Slave” in 1849. This narrative of his life will be so
suspenseful that an investigation is conducted that will
substantiate Bibb’s account. In 1850, the U.S. Congress
will pass the Fugitive Slave Act which will force his
immigration to Canada with his second wife. In 1851, he
will found the “Voice of the Fugitive”, the first Black
newspaper in Canada. He will join the ancestors in 1854 at
the age of 39.
1837 – Pinckney Benton Steward (P.B.S.) Pinchback is born near
Macon, Georgia. During the Civil War, he will recruit and
command a company of the “Corps d’Afrique,” a calvary unit
from Louisiana. He will resign his commission in 1863 after
unsuccessful demands that African American officers and
enlisted men be treated the same as white military
personnel. In 1868, he will be elected to the Louisiana
legislature as a Senator. In 1871, he will be elected
President Pro Temp of the Louisiana Senate, and will become
Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana in 1872 after the death of
Oscar Dunn. He will serve briefly (two months) as the
appointed Governor. He will be elected to the U.S. Senate
in 1873, but never be seated by that body, due to supposed
election irregularities. After the end of Reconstruction
and his political career, Pinchback will use his resources
to work as an advocate for African Americans as Southern
Democrats endeavor to take away the civil rights gained by
Blacks after the Civil War. He will publish the newspaper
“The Louisianan,” using it as a venue to help influence
public opinion. He will also become the leader of the
precursor to the Associated Negro Press, the Convention of
Colored Newspaper Men. At the age of sixty, he will
relocate to Washington, DC where he will live until he
joins the ancestors in 1921.
1876 – The American Centennial Exposition opens in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Included are works by four African American
artists, among them Edmonia Lewis’ “The Dying Cleopatra”
and Edward Bannister’s “Under the Oaks.” Bannister’s
painting will win the bronze medal, a distinct and
controversial achievement for the renowned painter.
1919 – A race riot occurs in Charleston, South Carolina. Two
African Americans are killed.
1935 – Larry Williams is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will
become a rhythm and blues singer and will be known for
his record hits “Short Fat Fannie,” “Bony Maronie,” and
“Dizzy Miss Lizzie.” He will join the ancestors on
January 7, 1980 after succumbing to a gunshot to the head.
1936 – Jayne Cortez is born in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. She will
grow up in the Watts section of Los Angeles, California
and will marry jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman in 1954.
After divorcing him in 1960, she will study drama and
poetry. She will become active in the civil rights
movement, registering African Americans to vote in
Mississippi as a worker for the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee. She will then become a poet and
performance artist that will integrate the rhythms and
foundations of jazz into her written works. She will
found the Watts Repertory Theater and be its artistic
director from 1964 through 1970. She will establish Bola
Press in New York City in 1972 and will be a
writer-in-residence at Rutgers University from 1977 to
1983. She will be known for her collections of poetry
“Pisstained Stairs and Monkey Man’s Wares,” “Festivals
and Funerals,” “Coagulations: New and Selected Poems,”
and “Somewhere in Advance of Nowhere.” She will also be
known for her poetry reading recordings with jazz
musicians “There It Is,” “Maintain Control,” and “Taking
the Blues Back Home: Poetry and Music.”
1944 – Judith Jamison is born in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania. She
will begin her dancing career at the age of six. She
will complete her dance training at the Philadelphia
Dance Company (later the University of Arts). She will
make her debut with the Alvin Ailey American Dance
Theatre in Chicago, dancing in Talley Beaty’s Congo
Tango Palace. She will become the troupe’s premier dancer
in 1967 and will tour the world exhibiting her signature
dance “Cry.” She will win a Dance Magazine award for her
performances in 1972. She will leave the Ailey
troupe in 1980 to perform on Broadway and will choreograph
many of her own works such as “Divining,” Ancestral Rites”
and “Hymn.” She will form the twelve member group, The
Jamison Project, in 1987. After Alvin Ailey’s health
declines in 1988, she will rejoin the Ailey troupe as
artistic associate and will become artistic director upon
his death in 1989. She will continue the company’s
tradition of performing early works choreographed by
African Americans for many years.
1950 – Jackie Robinson appears on the cover of Life magazine. It
is the first time an African American has been featured on
the magazine’s cover in its 13-year history.
1951 – Z. Alexander Looby is the first African American elected to
the Nashville City Council.
1952 – Canada Lee joins the ancestors in England at the age of 45.
He had become an actor in 1933 after a professional boxing
match left him blind in one eye. He was able to be cast in
non-traditional roles for African Americans at a time when
most were cast in stereotypical parts. He was best known
for his portrayal of “Bigger Thomas” in the play “Native
Son” in 1940 and 1941. He was blacklisted by the House
Committee on Un-American Activities and the FBI for his
outspoken views on the stereotyping of African Americans
in Hollywood and Broadway.
1962 – Southern School News reports that 246,988 or 7.6 per cent of
the African American pupils in public schools in seventeen
Southern and Border States and the District of Columbia
attended integrated classes in 1962.
1963 – Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth announces agreement on a limited
integration plan which will end the Birmingham
1974 – “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” earns a gold record for the
group, The Main Ingredient. The trio began as the Poets
in 1964. Cuba Gooding is the lead singer. (Gooding’s
son, Cuba Jr., will star in the 1991 film “Boyz N The Hood”
and will win an Academy award for his role in the movie
“Jerry Maguire in 1997.) The Main Ingredient’s biggest
hit, “Everybody Plays The Fool,” will make it to number
three on the pop charts in 1972.
1986 – Navy Lt. Commander Donnie Cochran becomes the first African
American pilot to fly with the celebrated Blue Angels
precision aerial demonstration team.
1994 – Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as president of South Africa.
In an historic exchange of power, former political
prisoner Nelson Mandela becomes the first Black president
of South Africa. In his acceptance speech, he says, “We
enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in
which all South Africans, both black and white, will be
able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts–a
rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”
1998 – Jose’ Francisco Pena Gomez joins the ancestors at the age
of 61 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic after succumbing
to pancreatic cancer. He had led a successful civil-
military revolt in 1965 which was curtailed by the
interference of United States Marines sent to the Dominican
Republic to put down the rebellion. He was later forced
into exile. He later returned to the Dominican Republic and
be heavily involved in politics as leader of the Partido
Revolucionario Dominicano. He ran for president
unsuccessfully three times.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.