June 17 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – June 17 *

1775 – Former slave Peter Salem shoots and kills British
Commander Major John Pitcairn, becoming the hero of
the Battle of Bunker Hill. Salem, along with Seasor,
Pharoah, Salem Poor, Barzaillai Lew, and Cuff
Whittmore, fights in the battles of Bunker Hill and
Breed’s Hill. Pitcairn was the major who ordered
British soldiers to fire on the Minutemen at

1822 – In New York City, the first elders of the newly
founded African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church
are ordained.

1871 – James William Johnson is born in Jacksonville,
Florida. He will become a writer (“Autobiography of
an Ex-Colored Man”), poet, first African American
admitted to the Florida bar, diplomat, executive
secretary of the NAACP, and professor. He will change
his middle name to Weldon in 1913. He also will write
the words and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson will
write the music to “Lift Every Voice And Sing”,
referred to as the “Negro National Anthem.” He will
join the ancestors on June 26, 1938 near his summer
home in Wiscasset, Maine, when the car in which he will
be driving, is struck by a train.

1897 – William Frank Powell, a New Jersey educator, is
named minister to Haiti.

1957 – A major boycott begins in Tuskegee, Alabama. African
Americans boycott city stores in protest against an
act of the state legislature which deprives them of
municipal votes by placing their homes outside city

1966 – Stokely Carmichael calls for the Black Power Movement
at a Greenwood, Mississippi rally.

1967 – Six days of racially motivated disturbances end in
Newark, New Jersey, in the worst urban violence since
the Watts Rebellion of 1965.

1969 – Jazz musician, Charles Mingus, comes out of a two-year,
self-imposed retirement to make a concert appearance at
the Village Vanguard in New York City.

1972 – Frank Wills, a Washington, DC security guard, foils
break-in at offices of the Democratic National Committee.
The offices at the Watergate complex, are targeted for
the placement of surveillance equipment. This will be the
first event of the Watergate conspiracy. Mr. Wills will
be rewarded for his actions by losing his job and
becoming unable to get another security job in the
Washington area.

1990 – South African Black nationalist Nelson Mandela and his
wife, Winnie, arrive in Ottawa, Canada, en route to an
11-day tour of the United States.

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


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