* 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 on February 21, 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 will be a featured artist at
the intimate Hotel Carlisle from 1968 until the end of
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.