* Today in Black History – June 20 *
1858 – Charles Waddell Chestnutt is born in Cleveland, Ohio. He
will at one time maintain four careers simultaneously –
stenographer, lawyer, author, and lecturer. He will also
serve three years as principal of the Fayetteville State
Colored Normal School in North Carolina. His most famous
literary works will be a biography of Frederick Douglass
and the short story collection “The Conjure Woman”. In
1928, he will receive the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for his
literacy accomplishments. He will join the ancestors on
November 15, 1932.
1871 – Ku Klux Klan trials begin in federal court in Oxford,
Mississippi. Many whites, including doctors, lawyers,
ministers and college professors, are arrested and jailed
in the anti-Klan campaign. Of the 930 indicted in
Mississippi, 243 will be tried and found guilty. Some 1180
are indicted in South Carolina and 1849 are indicted in
1911 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People is incorporated in New York City. It had been
founded on February 12, 1909.
1926 – Mordecai W. Johnson becomes the first African American
president of Howard University.
1929 – “Hot Chocolates” premieres at the Hudson Theatre in New
York City. With music by Fats Waller and lyrics by Andy
Razaf, the musical will introduce the songs “Ain’t
Misbehaving” and “Black and Blue”.
1936 – Jesse Owens of the United States sets the 100 meter record
at 10.2 seconds.
1943 – Thirty-four persons are killed in race riots in Detroit,
Michigan. Federal troops are called in to control the
violence, which stems from African Americans’ frustration
over exclusion from civilian defense jobs.
1946 – Andre’ Watts is born in Nuremburg, Germany. He will
make his debut as a concert pianist at age nine, have his
New York Philharmonic debut in 1963, and become a world-
famous classical pianist. In 2004 he will join the faculty
at Indiana University, where he will hold the Jack I. and
Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in The Jacob School of Music.
1949 – Lionel Ritchie is born in Tuskegee, Alabama. He will be
one of the most successful singers/songwriters in
contemporary popular music, known for his efforts in Pop,
Rhythm & Blues, and country music. Once a member of the
Commodores, Richie will establish a solo career, win
Grammys in 1982 and 1984, and be a featured performer at
the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in
1950 – Willie Mays graduates from high school and immediately
signs with the New York Giants for a $6,000 bonus. ‘The
Say Hey Kid’ would play most of his career for the Giants
— in both New York and San Francisco — becoming a
baseball legend. As his career comes to a close, Mays
will be traded to the New York Mets. Mays, an all-star
center fielder, will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of
Fame in his first year of eligibility – 1979.
1960 – Harry Belafonte wins an Emmy for his variety special
“Tonight with Harry Belafonte”. It is the first Emmy
awarded to an African American.
1960 – Floyd Patterson wins back the world heavyweight title by
knocking out Ingemar Johanson of Sweden in round five of
a title bout at the Polo Grounds in New York City.
1967 – Muhammad Ali is convicted in Houston, Texas, in federal
court for violating the Selective Service Act by refusing
induction into the armed services. He is fined $10,000
and sentenced to five years in prison. Ali, an opponent
of the Vietnam War, had refused to report for service on
grounds that he was a Muslim minister. The U.S. Supreme
Court will later overturn his conviction.
1969 – 150,000 people attend the Newport Jazz Festival. Jimi
Hendrix gets $125,000 to appear on the program. This is
the largest paycheck for a single concert appearance at
1988 – The Supreme Court upholds a law that made it illegal for
private clubs to discriminate against women and minorities.
1987 – Whitney Houston’s album, “Whitney”, debuts on “Billboard”
magazine’s album charts at number one. Houston becomes the
first female to have a LP debut at the top.
1990 – South African Black nationalist Nelson Mandela and his
wife, Winnie, arrive in New York City for a ticker-tape
parade in their honor as they begin an eight-city United
1997 – Lawrence Payton, occasional songwriter and member of the
“Four Tops,” joins the ancestors after succumbing to liver
cancer at his Southfield, Michigan home at the age of 59.
In 1953, he joined the Four Aims, which consisted of him,
Levi Stubbs, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Abdul “Duke” Fakir.
They changed their name to the Four Tops in order to avoid
confusion with the Ames Brothers. In 1956, they signed with
Chess Records and subsequently moved on to the Red Top,
Riverside and Columbia labels. They were part of Billy
Eckstine’s Las Vegas Revue in 1960 and in 1963 were signed
to Motown Records where they were teamed with the
production team of Holland, Dozier & Holland. Their last
label signing was to Arista in 1988. In 1990, they were
inducted into the Rock ‘n” Roll of Fame.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.