August 2 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – August 2 *

1847 – William A. Leidesdorff, born in the Danish West Indies to
a Danish father and a Black native mother, opens the first
commercial steamship service on San Francisco Bay.

1920 – Marcus Garvey presents his “Back To Africa” program in New
York City.

1924 – James Arthur Baldwin is born in New York City. He will
become one of the most prolific and influential African
American authors of fiction. His essays, such as
the collection “Notes of a Native Son” (1955), explore
palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and
class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in
mid-20th-century America, and their inevitable if unnameable
tensions with personal identity, assumptions, uncertainties,
yearning, and questing. Some of his essays are book-length,
for instance “The Fire Next Time” (1963), “No Name in the
Street” (1972), and “The Devil Finds Work” (1976). His
novels and plays fictionalize fundamental personal questions
and dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures
thwarting the equitable integration of not only blacks, but
also gay men — depicting as well some internalized
impediments to such individuals’ quest for acceptance —
namely in his second novel, “Giovanni’s Room” (1956),
written well before gay equality was widely espoused in
America. His best-known novel is his first, “Go Tell It on
the Mountain” (1953). In 1948, disillusioned by American
prejudice against blacks and gays, He will leave the United
States and depart for Paris, France. He will live as an
expatriate in France for most of his later life. He will
also spend some time in Switzerland and Turkey. He will
join the ancestors on December 1, 1987.

1945 – Jewell Jackson (later McCabe) is born in Washington, DC.
She will become president of the Coalition of 100 Black
Women, whose mission is to develop a forum for African
American women leaders.

1951 – While manning his machine gun during a surprise attack on
his platoon, private first class William Henry Thompson of
Company M, Twenty-fourth Infantry Regiment, becomes the
first African American to earn the Congressional Medal of
Honor in the Korean conflict.

1964 – A racially motivated disturbance begins in Jersey City, New

1966 – The Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School, later
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, is
chartered in Los Angeles, California. It is the only
African American-focused medical school west of the

1967 – “In the Heat of the Night”, starring Sidney Portier and Rod
Steiger, premieres.

1967 – Claude A. Barnett, who founded the Associated Negro Press,
joins the ancestors at the age of 78.

1980 – Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns wins the WBA Welterweight title.
This is one of five weight classes in which he wins a
boxing title, making him the first African American to win
boxing titles in five different weight classes.

1982 – Jackie Robinson, the first African American to break the
color barrier in major league baseball, is honored by a
commemorative stamp issued by the Postal Service, the
fifth in its Black Heritage USA series.

1986 – Jackie Joyner-Kersee (United States) sets record for the
heptathlon (7161 pts).

Munirah Chronicle is edited by Rene’ A. Perry


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