* Today in Black History – June 23 *
1824 – The Reverend William Levington, Deacon, establishes St.
James’ First African Protestant Episcopal Church in the
“Upper Room” at Park Avenue and Marion Street. The St.
James Episcopal Church, in Baltimore, Maryland, becomes
the oldest African American Episcopal Church established
south of the Mason-Dixon line.
1888 – Abolitionist Frederick Douglass receives one vote from
the Kentucky delegation at the Republican convention
in Chicago, effectively making him the first African
American candidate nominated for U.S. president.
1893 – Willie Sims, the wealthiest jockey of his time, rides
winning horses in five of six races at Sheepshead Bay
in Brooklyn, New York. Sims will repeat the feat two
years later in addition to winning two Kentucky Derbys
and two Belmont Stakes.
1904 – Willie Mae Ford (later Smith) is born in Rolling Fork,
Mississippi. She will become a leading gospel singer
and will be known as “the mother of gospel music.” She
will be one of the early associates of Thomas A. Dorsey
and an innovator in gospel style, introducing the “song
and sermonette” style that other singers, such as
Shirley Caesar and Edna Gallmon Cooke, made popular. She
will also be a major figure within the Baptist Church as
the Director of its Education Department of the National
Baptist Convention before she became a member of a
Pentecostal denomination. She will consider herself a
preacher and instill her singing and sermonettes with an
evangelical fervor. In 1990, she will be inducted into
the St. Louis Walk of Fame. She will join the ancestors
on February 2, 1994.
1919 – The Black Star Line of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro
Improvement Association (UNIA) is incorporated.
1926 – Langston Hughes’ articles “The Negro Artist and the
Racial Mountain” appears in “Nation “magazine. In it,
Hughes expresses African Americans’ bold new confidence
to create a new art during the Harlem Renaissance. “We
younger Negro artists who create now intend to express
our individual dark skinned selves without fear or
1940 – Wilma Rudolph is born in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee. A
polio victim as a child, she will overcome her illness
and win three gold medals at the Summer Games in Rome
(1960), the first American woman to achieve this feat
in a single Olympiad. She will be United Press Athlete
of the Year in 1960 and Associated Press Woman Athlete
of the Year for 1960 and 1961. Also in 1961, she will win
the James E. Sullivan Award, an award for the top amateur
athlete in the United States, and visit President John F.
Kennedy. She will be voted into the National Black Sports
and Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1973 and the National
Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974. She will be inducted
into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983, honored with
the National Sports Award in 1993, and inducted into the
National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994. She will join the
ancestors on November 12, 1994, after succumbing to cancer.
1944 – Rosetta Hightower is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She
will become a singer with the group, The Orlons. Some of
their hits will be “The Wah Watusi,” “Don’t Hang Up,” and
1948 – Clarence Thomas is born in the Pinpoint community, near
Savannah, Georgia. He will become a U.S. Supreme Court
Justice in 1991, replacing Thurgood Marshall as the only
African American among the nine jurists. He is
appointed by the conservative Republican administration
to satisfy the need to have an African American on the
court, while at the same time have a justice that is very
conservative. This will serve to increase the court’s
decisions that negatively affect African Americans and
other minorities and weaken affirmative action.
1956 – Steven Randall “Randy” Jackson in born in Baton Rouge,
Louisiana. He will become an American musician and
record producer. He will be best known to the general
public for being a judge on the television show American
Idol. As a musician Randy Jackson will play the electric
bass. He will be the bass player for the band Journey
for a period in the 1980s. He will also record, produce,
or tour with many well-known artists and bands, ranging
from Mariah Carey (whom he knew when she was still a
teenager; he will be in her band at Live 8 in London in
2005) to *NSYNC, Céline Dion, Bruce Springsteen and
Madonna. He will also work as an executive with Columbia
Records and MCA Records. He will be a judge with American
Idol since its inception in 2002. On the show he will be
known for taking a middle road of criticism between the
supportiveness of Paula Abdul and the nastiness of Simon
Cowell. He will popularize “pitchy” as the way to describe
off-key singing. He will also be renowned for his heavy
use of slang terms and gestures, most notably the word
“dawg”. When Randy says “you can blow,” it means “you can
sing well.” Jackson will sometimes wear outrageous outfits
and supplies an endless inspirational resource for those
looking for eye glasses.
1958 – A federal judge ruled racial segregation in Little Rock,
Arkansas, must end in 30 months.
1966 – Jonathan “Chico” DeBarge is born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
He will launch a promising solo career on Motown in the
late ’80s. Despite a hit single and a hit debut album, his
career will be sidelined by imprisonment on a drug charge.
After he completes his sentence, DeBarge will launch a
comeback in November 1997 with the release of “Long Time
No See”. “The Game” will follow in 1999.
1969 – Joe Frazier defeats Jerry Quarry for the heavyweight boxing
1970 – Charles Rangel defeats Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in the New
York Democratic primary in Harlem. This will end the
political career of one of the major political symbols of
the post-World War II period.
1982 – The House of Representatives approves the extension of the
Voting Rights Act of 1965, despite North Carolina Senator
Jesse Helms’ attempt to block the House vote. The Senate
had approved the extension of the bill five days before the
historic House vote.
1990 – TV Guide selects Arsenio Hall as Television Personality of
1994 – After decades as an international outcast, South Africa
reclaims its seat in the United Nations.
1994 – French marines and Foreign Legionnaires head into Rwanda to
try to stem the country’s ethnic slaughter.
1997 – Dr. Betty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X, joins the ancestors
in New York City at the age of 61, 3 weeks after receiving
burns over 80% of her body. Her burns were the result of a
fire set by her grandson, Malcolm.
2003 – Maynard Jackson Jr., who was elected the first African
American mayor of Atlanta in 1973 and transformed urban
politics in America by forcing the city’s white business
elite to open doors to minorities, joins the ancestors at
the age of 65. Thirty years earlier, Jackson survived a
racially charged primary to become the first African
American mayor of a major Southern city. The victory, the
same year that African American mayors were elected in
Detroit and Los Angeles, helped solidify the political
power of urban African Americans.
2003 – Max Manning, star pitcher in the Negro Leagues, joins the
ancestors at the age of 84 after a long illness. His 1937
tryout offer from the Detroit Tigers was rescinded when
they learned that he was African American.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.