July 16 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – July 16 *

1829 – A poem in tribute to the late Philadelphia caterer Robert
Bogle is published. Bogle is the first known
professional African American caterer. Among his
descendants will be Robert W. Bogle, publisher of the
Philadelphia “Tribune”, and Donald Bogle, noted film
critic and author of “Black Americans in Film and

1862 – Ida B. Wells (later Barnett) is born in Holly Springs,
Mississippi. She will complete her studies at Rust College
and in 1888 will become a teacher in Memphis, Tennessee.
While living in Memphis, she will become an editor and co-
owner of a local Black newspaper called “The Free Speech
and Headlight.” She will write her editorials under the
pen-name “Iola.” When a respected black store owner and
friend of hers is lynched in 1892, she will use her paper
to attack the evils of lynching and encourage the Black
townsmen of Memphis to go west. While attending an editor’s
convention in New York, she will receive word not to return
to Memphis because her life would be in danger. She will
take her cause to England to gain support and earn a
reputation as a fiery orator and courageous leader of her
people. Upon returning to the United States, she will
settle in Chicago and form the Women’s Era Club, the first
civic organization for African American women. The name
will be later changed to the Ida B. Wells Club in honor of
its founder. She will never forget her crusade against
lynching, and, in 1895 will publish “A Red Record,” which
will record race lynching in America. She will keep active
until the birth of her second son, Herman. She will resign
as president of the Ida B. Wells Club and devote her time
to raising her two young sons and subsequently her two
daughters. However, by the start of the 20th century, the
racial strife in the country will be disturbing. Lynching
and race riots will abound across the nation. In 1909, she
will be asked to be a member of the “Committee of 40.”
This committee will establish the groundwork for the
organization now known as the NAACP, the oldest civil
rights organization in the country. She will continue her
tireless crusade for equal rights for African Americans
until she joins the ancestors on March 25, 1931.

1894 – A group of African-American miners in Alabama is killed by
striking white miners.

1904 – Harold Dadford West is born in Flemington, New Jersey. He
will attend the University of Illinois, where he will
receive a bachelor of arts degree in 1925. He will be an
associate professor and head of the science department at
Morris Brown College in Atlanta from 1925 to 1927. In 1927,
he will join the faculty of Meharry Medical College in
Nashville, Tennessee, as an associate professor of
physiological chemistry. During his early years on the
faculty of Meharry Medical College, he will complete a
master of arts degree and a doctorate. He will be a
recipient of a fellowship from the Julius Rosenwald Fund
at the University of Illinois while he earns a master of
arts degree in 1930. Following that he will be a
Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, receiving a doctorate
degree from the same university in 1937. The title of his
dissertation will be “The Chemistry and Nutritive Value of
Essential Amino Acids.” In 1938, he will become professor
of biochemistry and chairperson of the department. His work
in biochemical research will be vast, including studies of
tuberculosis and other bacilli, the antibiotic biocerin,
and aromatic hydrocarbons. He will work with amino acids,
becoming the first to synthesize threonine. As noted in the
Journal of the National Medical Association, among his
other investigations will be “the role of sulfur in
biological detoxification mechanisms; blood serum calcium
levels in the Negro in relation to possible significance in
tuberculosis; relation of B-vitamins, especially
pantothenic acid, to detoxification of sulfa-drugs and
susceptibility to bacillary disease.” In 1952, he will be
named the fifth president of Meharry Medical College, its
first African American president. In 1963, he will be the
first Black American to serve on the State Board of
Education. He will retire as president in 1965, returning
to the position of professor of biochemistry. When he
retires from Meharry in 1973, he will become a trustee of
the college. In his final years he will work on a complete
history of the college. He will join the ancestors on March
5, 1974.

1923 – Mari Evans is born in Toledo, Ohio. She will become an author
and be best known for her poetry collections. She will
attend the University of Toledo and later teach at several
schools in the Midwest and East, including Purdue and
Indiana universities. She will begin five years of writing,
producing, and directing for an Indianapolis television
program, “The Black Experience,” in 1968, the same year her
first poetry collection, “Where Is All the Music?”, is
published. With her second collection, “I Am a Black Woman”
(1970), she will gain acclaim as an important new poet. Her
poem “Who Can Be Born Black” is often anthologized. Her
later collections will include “Nightstar: 1973–1978” (1981),
whose poems will praise blues artists and community heroes
and heroines, and “A Dark and Splendid Mass” (1992). She
will also write works for juvenile readers and several plays,
including “River of My Song” (produced 1977) and the musical
“Eyes” (produced 1979), an adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s
“Their Eyes Were Watching God.” She will edit the anthology
“Black Women Writers (1950–1980): A Critical Evaluation”

1934 – Donald Payne is born in Newark, New Jersey. He will graduate
from Seton Hall University in 1957. He will be president of
the Young Men’s Christian Association of the United States
from 1970 to 1973. In 1988 he will be elected to the U.S.
Congress becoming the first African American elected to
Congress from the state of New Jersey. He will join the
ancestors on March 6, 2012.

1936 – The movie “The Green Pastures” premieres in New York’s Radio
City Music Hall, featuring Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, the
Hall Johnson Choir, and Rex Ingram as “De Lawd.” The film,
a Warner Brothers production, is William Keighley’s
adaptation of Marc Connelly’s Pulitzer Prize winning
Broadway musical.

1961 – Ralph Boston of the United States, sets what is then the long
jump record at 27′ 2″.

1977 – Janelle Penny Commissiong of Trinidad and Tabago is crowned
Miss Universe. She is the first person of African descent
to win the title.

1988 – Carl Lewis runs 100 meters in 9.78 seconds. Florence Joyner
runs 100 meters in women’s world record time of 10.49
seconds. Jackie Joyner-Kersee sets women’s heptathlete
record of 7,215 points.

1990 – Dr. Gwendolyn Baker was elected President of the New York
Board of Education, the first African American woman to
hold such an office.

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


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