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.


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 (born LaDonna Adrian Gaines), 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 in Naples, Florida, after succumbing to lung
cancer 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 will join 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, serving 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.

no equity, no justice


image.w174h200f3 I haven’t said much publicly about the #weneeddiversebooks campaign but I took a moment last week to write a piece for The Huffington Post and it just went up this afternoon. Here’s a taste:

The recent #weneeddiversebooks social media campaign has raised awareness of the need for greater diversity in children’s literature, and I am happy to see this important issue garner the attention it deserves. Activism around diversity isn’t new, of course, but repeated calls for change over the past few decades have largely fallen on deaf ears. Those of us who have been advocating for greater diversity and equity in children’s publishing are watching to see what will happen next. Will the overwhelmingly white publishing industry simply add a few more authors of color and call it a day? Will those who are new to the struggle be satisfied with superficial rather than structural change?

Missing from…

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