Today in Black History – July 1 *
1863 – The Dutch West Indies abolishes slavery.
1870 – James W. Smith is the first African American to enter
the U.S. Military Academy (West Point).
1873 – Henry O. Flipper of Georgia is the second African
American to enter West Point .
1889 – Frederick Douglass is named minister to Haiti.
1893 – Walter Francis White, NAACP leader, is born in Atlanta,
Georgia. After graduating from Atlanta University in 1916,
he will become an official with the Standard Life Insurance
Company, one of the largest Black-owned businesses of its
day. He will also take part in civic affairs, helping to
found the Atlanta branch of the NAACP that same year. With
White as secretary, the branch will quickly score a victory
for educational equality by preventing the school board
from eliminating seventh grade in the Black public schools.
In 1917, James Weldon Johnson, field secretary for the
NAACP will visit Atlanta. He will be impressed with White’s
enthusiasm and political skills and will persuaded the
national board of directors to appoint him the assistant
secretary. In January, 1918 White will move to New York and
join the NAACP staff. For the next ten years his primary
responsibility will be conducting undercover investigations
of lynchings and race riots. Using his fair complexion to
his advantage, he will approach members of lynch mobs and
other whites who had witnessed or were involved in racial
violence. He will trick them into giving him candid
accounts that the NAACP would then publicize. During these
years he will investigate forty-one lynchings and eight
race riots, including the riots in Elaine, Arkansas, and
Chicago, Illinois, during the Red Summer of 1919. On more
than one occasion he will narrowly escape vigilantes who
discover his true identity. He will become the Executive
Director of the NAACP from 1931 until he joins the ancestors
on March 21, 1955.
1898 – The African American 10th Calvary charges Spanish
Forces at El Caney, Cuba, and relieves Teddy
Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders.”
1899 – Rev. Thomas Andrew Dorsey, “Father of Gospel Music” is
born in Villa Rica, Georgia. Although he will begin
touring with Ma Rainey, he will leave the blues in
1932 to work as a choir director for Pilgrim Baptist
Church. A gospel legend, among his most popular songs
will be “A Little Talk with Jesus.” His father was a minister
and his mother a piano teacher. He will learn to play blues
piano as a young man. After studying music formally in
Chicago, he will become an agent for Paramount Records. He
put together a band for Ma Rainey called the “Wild Cats Jazz
Band” in 1924. He will be credited with more than 400 blues
and jazz songs. Personal tragedy will lead Dorsey to leave
secular music behind and begin writing and recording what he
called “gospel” music. He was the first to use that term. His
first wife, Nettie, who had been Rainey’s wardrobe mistress,
died in childbirth in 1932 along with his first son. In his
grief, he wrote his most famous song, one of the most famous
of all gospel songs, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”.
Unhappy with the treatment he received at the hands of
established publishers, he will open the first Black gospel
music publishing company, Dorsey House of Music. He will also
found his own gospel choir and will be a founder and first
president of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and
Choruses. His influence will not be limited to African
American music, as white musicians also follow his lead.
“Precious Lord” will be recorded by Elvis Presley, Mahalia
Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Clara Ward, Roy Rogers, and
Tennessee Ernie Ford, among hundreds of others. It will be a
favorite gospel song of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and
be sung at the rally the night before his assassination, and
at his funeral by Mahalia Jackson, per his request. It will
also be a favorite of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who will
requested it to be sung at his funeral. He wrote “Peace in
the Valley” for Mahalia Jackson in 1937, which will also
become a gospel standard. He will be the first African
American elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and
also the first in the Gospel Music Association’s Living Hall
of Fame. His papers will be preserved at Fisk University,
along with those of W.C. Handy, George Gershwin, and the Fisk
Jubilee Singers. He will join the ancestors in Chicago,
Illinois on January 23, 1993.
1915 – William James ‘Willie’ Dixon is born in Vickburg, Mississippi.
He will be a producer for Chess and Checker Records in
Chicago and considered one of the key figures in the creation
of Chicago blues. He worked with Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters,
Howlin’ Wolf, Led Zeppelin, Otis Rush, Bo Diddley, Little
Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Koko Taylor, Little Milton,
Eddie Boyd, Jimmy Witherspoon, Lowell Fulson, Willie Mabon,
Memphis Slim, Washboard Sam, Jimmy Rogers, and others.
His genius as a songwriter lay in refurbishing archaic
Southern motifs, in contemporary arrangements. This produced
songs with the backbone of the blues, and the agility of pop
music. British R&B bands of the 1960s will constantly draw
on the Dixon songbook for inspiration. In addition, as his
songwriting and production work started to take a backseat,
his organizational ability will be utilized, putting together
all-star, Chicago based blues ensembles for work in Europe.
His health will deteriorate in the 1970s and 1980s, due to
long-term diabetes, and eventually his leg will have to be
amputated. He will join the ancestors in Burbank,
California on January 29, 1992 and will be posthumously
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
1917 – A three day race riot starts in East St. Louis, Illinois.
Estimates of the number killed ranges from forty to two
hundred. There had been an earlier race riot that
occurred on May 27, 1917. Martial law is declared. A
congressional investigating committee will say, “It is
not possible to give accurately the number of dead. At
least thirty-nine Negroes and eight white people were
killed outright, and hundreds of Negroes were wounded
and maimed. ‘The bodies of the dead Negroes,’ testified
an eye witness, ‘were thrown into a morgue like so many
dead hogs.’ There were three hundred and twelve
buildings and forty-four railroad freight cars and their
contents destroyed by fire.”
1942 – Andrae Crouch, African American sacred music artist, is
born in Los Angeles, California. He will become a gospel
musician, recording artist, songwriter, arranger, and
producer. He will be a key figure in the Jesus Music
movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He will work as a
producer or arranger with Michael Jackson, Madonna (Like
A Prayer), Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Elton John and Rick
Astley (Cry For Help). His film credits will include “Once
Upon A Forest,” “The Color Purple,” “The Lion King,” and
“Free Willy.” He will also appear as the television voice
of Dr. Seuss’s Yertle the Turtle. He will eventually serve
as Senior Pastor at the New Christ Memorial Church of God
in Christ in San Fernando, California, the church founded
by his parents. In 2004, he will be honored with a star on
the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He will be the third gospel
musician to appear on the walk. His most enduring gospel
songs will be “Soon and Very Soon,” “My Tribute”, “The
Blood” and “Through It All.”
1960 – Ghana becomes a republic. Italian Somalia gains
independence, and unites with the Somali Republic.
1960 – Evelyn “Champagne” King is born in the Bronx, New York City,
New York. In her teens, she will relocate to Philadelphia
with her mother, and begin singing in several groups. To
make ends meet, she and her mother will become cleaning
women. For a teenager, King’s voice will be quite mature.
Many, at first thought will think she is a grown woman.
While working at Gamble & Huff’s recording studio as a
cleaner, she will be “discovered” by producer T. Life, and
will go on to become one of the most popular Rhythm & Blues
and disco singers of the late seventies and early eighties.
She will be best known for the disco classic “Shame”, her
Top 10 1978 Gold record. She will score an additional Top 40
hit and Gold record, with “I Don’t Know If It’s Right” in
1979. “Shame” and “I Don’t Know If It’s Right” will both be
tracks released from her 1977 debut album Smooth Talk. On
September 20, 2004, her signature song “Shame” will become
among the first records to be inducted into the newly formed
Dance Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in New York’s
1961 – Frederick Carlton “Carl” Lewis is born in Birmingham, Alabama.
He will be raised in Willingboro, New Jersey. He will become
an athlete who will win 10 Olympic medals (9 golds) during
his career (1984 to 1996), and 8 World Championship gold
medals, and 1 bronze (1983 to 1993). He will become only the
third Olympian to win four consecutive titles in an individual
1962 – Burundi & Rwanda gain independence from Belgium (National Days).
1976 – Newark mayor Kenneth Gibson is elected as the first African
American president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
1991 – Former chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
and judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Clarence Thomas is
nominated by President George H. Bush as associate justice of
the Supreme Court to replace retiring justice Thurgood
Marshall. Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearings will be the
most controversial in history and will include charges of
sexual harassment by a former employee, Professor Anita Hill.
1997 – Audrey F. Manley begins her appointment as president of Spelman
College. She is the first alumna of Spelman to be named
president in the college’s 116-year history. Formerly acting
surgeon general of the United States, Manley had served in key
leadership positions in the U.S. Public Health Service for the
previous 20 years.
2005 – Grammy award winner Luther Vandross joins the ancestors at John
F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey at the age of
54. He never really recovered from a stroke suffered in his
Manhattan home on April 16, 2003. He amazingly managed to
continue his recording career, and in 2004, captured four
Grammys as a sentimental favorite, including best song for the
bittersweet “Dance With My Father.” He had battled weight
problems for years while suffering from diabetes and
hypertension. He was arguably the most celebrated Rhythm &
Blues balladeer of his generation. He made women swoon with
his silky yet forceful tenor, which he often revved up like a
motor engine before reaching his beautiful crescendos. He was
a four-time Grammy winner in the best male R&B performance
category, taking home the trophy in 1990 for the single “Here
and Now,” in 1991 for his album “Power of Love,” in 1996 for
the track “Your Secret Love” and a last time for “Dance With
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry