May 31 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – May 31 *

1870 – The first civil rights Enforcement Act, which protects the
voting and civil rights of African Americans, is passed by
Congress. It provides stiff penalties for public officials
and private citizens who deprive citizens of the suffrage
and civil rights. The measure authorizes the use of the
U.S. Army to protect these rights.

1909 – The first NAACP conference is held at the United Charities
Building in New York City with 300 African Americans and
whites in attendance. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, while speaking
at the conference, condemns lynching as a “blight upon our
nation, mocking our laws and disgracing our Christianity.”

1917 – One of the first jazz records, “The Darktown Strutter’s
Ball,” is released. It was written by songwriter and
musician, Shelton Brooks. It will become Brooks’ most
famous song.

1931 – Shirley Verrett is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She will
become an operatic mezzo-soprano known worldwide for her
compelling performance in Carmen. She will be a star at the
world’s great opera houses, including the Metropolitan
Opera, La Scala, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the
Bolshoi Opera, the Paris Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the
Vienna Staatsoper, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She will
appear at the Metropolitan opera for more than two decades.
She will be the recipient of many honors and awards, among
them the Marian Anderson Award, Naumburg Award, and the
Sullivan Award; and fellowships from numerous foundations
including Ford, John Hay Whitney, and Martha Baird
Rockefeller. She will receive honorary doctorates from Holy
Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Northeastern
University in Boston. She will join the faculty at the
University of Michigan in 1996, becoming the James Earl
Jones Distinguished University Professor of Music. She will
join the ancestors on November 5, 2010.

1955 – The U.S. Supreme Court passes a second desegregation ruling,
demanding “all deliberate speed” be used in the
desegregation of public schools.

1961 – Judge Irving Kaufman orders the Board of Education of New
Rochelle, New York to integrate their schools.

1961 – Chuck Berry’s amusement park, Berryland, opens near Saint
Louis, Missouri.

1979 – Zimbabwe proclaims its independence.

1987 – John Dotson is named publisher of the Boulder, Colorado,
“Daily Camera.” It is one of many distinctions for the
noted journalist, including being the first African
American reporter for Newsweek magazine and founding, in
the mid-1970’s, the Institute for Journalism Education,
dedicated to training minority journalists.

1989 – Cito Gaston is named manager of the Toronto Blue Jays of
baseball’s American League.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

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