* Today in Black History – May 25 *
1878 – Tapdancing legend Bill “Bojangles” (Luther) Robinson is born in
Richmond, Virginia. He will star in vaudeville and in many movies
such as “The Littliest Rebel,” “In Old Kentucky,” “Rebecca of
Sunnybrook Farm,” and “The Little Colonel”. He will join the
ancestors on November 25, 1949.
1905 – Dorothy Burnett (later Porter) is born in Warrenton, Virginia. She
will become a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the first African American
woman to receive a Masters of Library Science degree from Columbia
University, and will author several African American historical
works. She will be a long-time librarian at the Howard University
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and will be responsible for
developing it into one of the world’s largest collections of material
authored by and about people of African descent. She will join the
ancestors on December 17, 1995.
1906 – Martin Dihigo is born in Havana, Cuba. He will become a baseball
player in the Negro Leagues and will be considered by some to be the
greatest all-around player of all-time of African descent. He will be
elected to the Cuban and Mexican Halls of Fame during his lifetime, and
will be posthumously elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in
1977. He will join the ancestors on May 20, 1971.
1919 – Millionaire Madame C.J. Walker joins the ancestors at the age of 52 at
Irvington-on-the-Hudson, New York. She was the founder of the Madame
C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, the largest African American
haircare company of its time. After her death, a substantial portion
of her business’s proceeds will be donated to African American
organizations and scholarships.
1932 – K.C. Jones is born in San Francisco, California. He will become a member
of the Olympic basketball team and help win the 1956 Olympic Gold Medal.
He will then become a professional basketball player with the Boston
Celtics, where he will help win eight NBA titles. He will then win two
championships as the coach of the Celtics. He will also be the head
coach of the Washington Bullets and the Seattle Supersonics. He will
have 522 wins as a NBA coach and in 1997 will become the coach of
American Basketball League women’s team, the New England Blizzard.
After the league disbands, he will join the coaching staff of the
women’s basketball team at the University of Rhode Island, at the age of
1935 – This is “the greatest day in the history of track,” according to “The
New York Times.” Jesse Owens of Ohio State University breaks two
world sprint records, ties a third, and breaks a long jump world
record in a meet at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, all in
1936 – David Levering Lewis is born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He will become
a historian and biographer. Professor Lewis will receive his Ph.D. in
modern European history from the London School of Economics and
Political Science in 1962. His research and publications will focus
on African American history, conceptions of race and racism, and the
dynamics of European colonialism, especially in Africa. He will author
a biography of Du Bois entitled “W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race,”
which will win a Pulitzer prize in 1994. His other works include “King:
A Biography” (1970), “Prisoners of Honor: The Dreyfus Affair” (1975),
“When Harlem Was in Vogue” (1982), “The Race to Fashoda: European
Colonialism and the African Resistance to the Scramble for Africa”
(1987), and “W.E.B. Du Bois: A Reader” (1995).
1943 – Leslie Uggams is born in Washington Heights, New York. She will make
her acting debut on television’s “Beulah” and be a regular on The
Mitch Miller Show before achieving acclaim in Broadway’s “Hallelujah
Baby” and TV’s “Roots.”
1943 – A riot, started by white workers, occurs in a Mobile, Alabama shipyard
over the job upgrading of twelve African American workers.
1959 – The U.S. Supreme Court declares a Louisiana law enforcing a ban on
bouts between African American and white boxers to be unconstitutional.
1963 – The first observance of African Liberation Day occurs. It begins at
the founding conference of the Organization of African Unity in Addis
1964 – The closing of schools to avoid desegregation is ruled unconstitutional
by the U.S. Supreme Court. Prince Edward County, Virginia will have to
reopen and desegregate its schools.
1965 – A very short heavyweight title fight occurs in Lewiston, Maine. Cassius
Clay (later Muhammad Ali) knocks out challenger, Sonny Liston, in one
minute and 56 seconds of the first round. Liston never sees the punch
coming. Neither did an unbelieving crowd at ringside, nor those in
theatres all over the world watching the fight on closed-circuit TV.
1971 – A young African American woman, Jo Etha Collier, joins the ancestors
after being killed in Drew, Mississippi by a bullet fired from a passing
car. Three whites are arrested on May 26 and charged with the unprovoked
1994 – The United Nations Security Council lifts a 10-year-old ban on weapons
exports from South Africa, ending the last of its apartheid-era
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.