Today in Black History – August 1 *
1619 – Twenty African “Negroes” became the first Blacks to land in
Protestant America at Jamestown, Virginia. Surviving
evidence suggests that the twenty Africans were accorded
the status of indentured servants.
1834 – Slavery is abolished in the British Empire by the royal
ascent of the King of England after having been voted by
Parliament the previous year.
1838 – British slaves in the Bahamas are emancipated.
1852 – San Francisco Methodists establish the first African
American Zion Methodist Church.
1867 – African Americans vote for the first time in a state
election, in Tennessee, helping the Republicans sweep the
1867 – General Philip H. Sheridan dismisses the board of aldermen
in New Orleans and named new appointees, including several
1868 – Governor Henry C. Warmoth of Louisiana endorses a joint
resolution of the legislature calling for federal military
aid. Warmoth says there had been 150 political
assassinations in June and July.
1874 – Charles Clinton Spaulding is born in Columbus County, North
Carolina. He will become a businessman who will rise to the
presidency of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance
Company. His business acumen will help the company survive
the years of the Great Depression. Also active in the
Durham, North Carolina community where the corporation is
located, he will work to increase the numbers of registered
African American voters and convince the city to hire
African American police officers. He will lead the company
from 1900 until he joins the ancestors on August 1, 1952.
1879 – Mary Eliza Mahoney graduates from the nursing program at the
New England Hospital for Women and Children. She is the
first African American to graduate from a nursing school and
becomes the first African American in history to earn a
professional nursing license.
1894 – Benjamin Elijah Mays is born in Epworth, South Carolina. He
will become a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates College in
Maine. He will serve as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church from
1921-1923 in Atlanta, Georgia. Recruited by Morehouse President
John Hope, Mays will join the faculty as a mathematics teacher
and debate coach. He will obtain a master’s degree in 1925 and
in 1935 a Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago. In 1934,
he will be appointed dean of the School of Religion at Howard
University and serve until 1940. He will become president of
Morehouse College in 1940 and launch a 27-year tenure that
will shepherd the institution into international prominence. He
will upgrade the faculty, secure a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and
sustain enrollment during World War II. After retiring as the
president of Morehouse, he will be elected to the school board
of Atlanta, Georgia and later serve as its president. In
1982, he will be awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal. He
will join the ancestors on March 28, 1984.
1914 – Marcus Garvey establishes the Universal Negro Movement
Improvement and Conservation Association and African
Communities’ League, later shortened to UNIA. In New York
City six years later to the day, the UNIA will meet in
Madison Square Garden as Garvey presents his “Back to
Africa” plan and a formal Declaration of Rights for Black
1918 – Theodore Juson Jemison, Sr. is born in Selma, Alabama. He
will become a Baptist minister and will later be elected
president of the National Baptist Convention USA, serving
from 1982 to 1994. It is the largest African American
religious organization. He will oversee the construction of
the Baptist World Center in Nashville, Tennessee, the
headquarters for the Convention. In 1953, while minister of
a large church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he will help lead
the first civil rights boycott of bus service. The
organization of free rides, coordinated by churches, was a
model used later by the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama,
which started in 1955. He will be one of the founders of
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. In
2003 the 50th anniversary of the Baton Rouge bus boycott will
be honored with three days of events, organized by a young
resident born two decades after the action.
1920 – The national convention of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro
Improvement Association opens in Liberty Hall in Harlem.
The next night Garvey addresses twenty-five thousand Blacks
in Madison Square Garden. Garvey’s nationalist movement
reaches its height in 1920-21.
1925 – The National Bar Association, dedicated to “advance the
science of jurisprudence, uphold the honor of the legal
profession…and protect the civil and political rights of
all citizens of the several states of the United States,”
is formally organized in Des Moines, Iowa by 12 African
American legal pioneers including George H. Woodson, S.
Joe Brown, and Gertrude E. Rush.
1930 – Geoffrey Holder is born in Polrt of Spain, Trinidad. He will
become a Broadway dancer and actor and will be best known
for his performances in “Annie” and “The Wiz.” He will
teach at the Katherine Dunham School of Dance for two years.
He will be a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera
Ballet in New York from 1955 to 1956. In 1955, He will
marry dancer Carmen De Lavallade, whom he met when both
were in the cast of “House of Flowers,” a musical by Harold
Arlen (music and lyrics) and Truman Capote (lyrics and book).
They will be the subject of a 2004 film, “Carmen & Geoffrey.”
He will begin his movie career in the 1962 British film “All
Night Long,” a modern remake of Shakespeare’s Othello. He
will follow that with “Doctor Doolittle” (1967) as Willie
Shakespeare, leader of the natives of Sea-Star Island. This
will be a trying experience for him, as he had to contend
with casual racism from Rex Harrison’s then-wife, Rachel
Roberts, and his entourage. In 1972, he will be cast as the
Sorcerer in “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*”
(*But Were Afraid to Ask). The following year he will be a
henchman – Baron Samedi – in the Bond movie “Live and Let Die,”
also contributing to the film’s choreography. In addition to
his movie appearances, he will become a spokesman for the 1970s
7 Up soft drink “uncola” advertising campaign. In 1975, he will
win two Tony Awards for direction and costume design of “The
Wiz,” the all-black musical version of The Wizard of Oz. He
will be the first black man to be nominated in either category.
He also win the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design.
The show will run for 1672 performances over a four-year period,
reviving in 1984. As a choreographer, he will create dance
pieces for many companies, including the Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theater, for which he will provide choreography, music
and costumes for “Prodigal Prince” (1967), and the Dance
Theatre of Harlem, for which he provided choreography, music
and costumes for “Dougla” (1974) and designed costumes for
“Firebird” (1982). In 1978, he will direct and choreograph the
Broadway musical “Timbuktu!” His 1957 piece “Bele” is also part
of the Dance Theater of Harlem repertory. In the 1982 film
version of the musical “Annie,” he will play the role of Punjab.
He will also be the voice of Ray in “Bear in the Big Blue House”
and provide narration for Tim Burton’s version of Roald Dahl’s
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” He will reprise his role
as the 7 Up Spokesman in the 2011 season finale of The Celebrity
Apprentice, where he will appear as himself in a commercial for
“7 Up Retro” for Marlee Matlin’s team. He will also be a
prolific painter, ardent art collector, book author and music
composer. As a painter, he will win a Guggenheim Fellowship. A
book of his photography, “Adam,” was published by Viking Press
1940 – Benjamin E. Mays, who has been called “the greatest school
master of his generation,” is named president of Morehouse
1941 – Ronald H. Brown is born in Washington, DC. He will become
the first African American chairman of the Democratic
National Committee and Secretary of Commerce. He will join
the ancestors on April 3, 1996 in Croatia when his plane crashes
while on an official tour of the Balkans for the Department
1943 – Race-related rioting erupts in New York City’s village of
Harlem, resulting in several deaths.
1944 – Adam Clayton Powell is elected to congress and becomes the
first African American congressman from the East.
1950 – The American Bowling Congress ends its all-white-males rule.
1952 – Charles Clinton Spaulding joins the ancestors in Durham,
North Carolina at the age of 78.
1960 – Benin changes its name to Dahomey and proclaims its
independence from France.
1960 – Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” is released. The song
inspires the dance craze of the ’60s.
1961 – Whitney Young Jr. is named executive director of the
National Urban League.
1964 – Arthur Ashe becomes the first African American to be named
to the U.S. Davis Cup tennis team.
1970 – “Black Enterprise” magazine is first published.
1970 – Willie Stargell, of the Pittsburgh Pirates, ties the record
of 5 extra base hits in a game.
1973 – Tempestt Bledsoe, actress, “The Cosby Show’s” Vanessa
Huxtable, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1977 – Benjamin L. Hooks becomes the Executive Director of the
1979 – James Patterson Lyke is installed as auxiliary bishop of
the Cleveland Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.
1987 – Mike Tyson defeats Tony Tucker to become undisputed
Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
1992 – The Supreme Court permits the administration to continue
its special interdiction policy by which the U.S. Coast
Guard patrols international waters near Haiti to prevent
Haitian citizens from escaping from their country, and
Haiti is the only country in the world to receive such
treatment by the United States.
1992 – Gail Devers wins the women’s 100 meters at the Barcelona
1993 – Ronald H. Brown, former chairman of the Democratic
National Committee, is appointed head of the Department
of Commerce by President Bill Clinton.
1994 – Supporters of Haiti’s military rulers declare their
intention to fight back in the face of a U.N. resolution
paving the way for a U.S.-led invasion.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.