* Today in Black History – July 3 *
1848 – Slaves are freed in the Danish West Indies (now the U.S.
1871 – Joseph H. Douglass, grandson of Frederick Douglass, is
born in Washington, DC. A student of the New England
Conservatory of Music in Boston, Douglass will become a
1915 – U.S. military forces occupy Haiti, and remain until 1934.
1917 – Three days of racial riots end in East St. Louis, Illinois.
At least 40 and as many as 200 African Americans are
killed and hundreds more are wounded.
1928 – Charles Waddell Chestnutt, author of “The Conjure Woman”
and other works, is awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal
for his “work as a literary artist depicting the life and
struggle of Americans of Negro descent.”
1940 – Fontella Bass is born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother is
Martha Bass (of the Clara Ward Singers) who exposed her to
music at an early age. She was singing in her church’s
choir at six years old, but as a teenager, she will be
attracted by more secular music. Throughout high school she
will be singing R&B songs at local contests and fairs. She
will eventually move to Chicago and sign with Chess Records.
She will record the song, “Rescue Me,” which will shoot up
the charts in the fall and winter of 1965. After a month at
the top of the Rhythm & Blues charts, the song will reach
#4 at the pop charts. Her only album with Chess Records,
“The New Look,” will sell reasonably well, but she will
decide to leave the label after only two years, in 1967. In
1970 she will record two albums with the Art Ensemble of
Chicago, “The Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass”
and “Les Stances A Sophie.” The latter is the soundtrack
from the French movie of the same title. Her vocals, backed
by the powerful, pulsating push of the band has allowed the
“Theme De YoYo” to remain an underground cult classic ever
since. The next few years will find her at a number of
different labels, but with no notable successes. After her
second album, “Free,” flopped in 1972, she will retire from
music. She will return occasionally, being featured as a
background vocalist on several recordings, including those
of her husband, Lester Bowie, a jazz trumpeter and member
of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In the 1990s she will host
a short-lived Chicago radio talk show, and will release
several gospel records on independent labels. She will be
inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in the Loop in
May 2000. She will join the ancestors on December 26, 2012.
1947 – The Cleveland Indians purchase the contract of Larry Doby,
the first African American to play in the American League.
1962 – Jackie Robinson, who broke the color line in professional
baseball, is the first African American inducted into the
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cooperstown,
1966 – NAACP officially disassociates itself from the “Black Power”
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.