* Today in Black History – August 8 *
1796 – Boston African Society is established with 44 charter
1805 – The First African Baptist Church is organized in Boston,
Massachusetts, under the leadership of Thomas Paul. It
will be the first congregation to worship at the
African Meeting House, which will be established on
December 6, 1806 (It is the oldest church building in
the United States built for and by African Americans).
1843 – Natal (in South Africa) is made a British colony.
1866 – Matthew Alexander Henson is born in Nanjemoy, Maryland. He
will become an explorer and associate of Robert Peary
during various expeditions. The most famous will be the
1909 expedition on which he will become the first person
to reach the Geographic North Pole. In 1912, he will write
the book, “A Negro Explorer at the North Pole”, about his
arctic exploration. He will be largely ignored afterward
and will spend most of the next thirty years working as a
clerk in a federal customs house in New York. In 1944,
Congress will award him a duplicate of the silver medal
given to Admiral Peary in 1911. In 1947 he will collaborate
with Bradley Robinson on his biography, “Dark Companion.”
Presidents Harry S Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, will
both honor him prior to his death. He will join the
ancestors in the Bronx, New York, on March 9, 1955, at the
age of 88. He will be buried at Woodlawn Cemetery. In 1961,
a plaque will be installed to mark his Maryland birthplace.
In 1988, he and his wife’s remains will be exhumed and
reburied at Arlington National Cemetery, near the grave of
Admiral Peary and his wife.
1907 – Saxophonist Bennett Lester “Benny” Carter is born in New
York City. He will play initially at age 23 and form his
own big band in 1940. Carter will either play with,
conduct or write arrangements for Dizzy Gillespie, Duke
Ellington, Quincy Jones, and many others. He will be a
major figure in jazz from the 1930s to the 1990s, and
recognized as such by other jazz musicians who called him
King. In 1958, he will perform with Billie Holiday at the
legendary Monterey Jazz Festival. The National Endowment
for the Arts willhonor him with its highest honor in jazz,
the NEA Jazz Masters Award for 1986. He will be awarded
the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, win the
Grammy Award in 1994 for his solo “Prelude to a Kiss”,
and also the same year, receive a star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame. In 2000 he will receive the National
Endowment for the Arts’, “National Medal of Arts,”
presented by President Bill Clinton. He will join the
ancestors on July 12, 2003.
1921 – James John “Jimmy” Witherspoon is born in Gurdon, Arkansas.
He will become a blues singer and will be featured on over
200 albums and be best known for songs such as “Ain’t
Nobody’s Business If I Do,” “Some Of My Best Friends Are
the Blues” and “Blue Spoon.” He will join the ancestors on
September 18, 1997 after succumbing to throat cancer..
1933 – Joseph “Joe Tex” Arrington, Jr. is born in Baytown, Texas.
He will become a singer/songwriter. He will be known for
his recordings of “I Gotcha”, “Hold What You’ve Got”,
“Skinny Legs and All”, and “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More”(With
No Big Fat Woman.” After converting to the Muslim faith in
1966 and changing his name to Yusuf Hazziez, he will tour
as a spiritual lecturer. He will join the ancestors (at
home in Navasota, Texas) on August 13, 1982, succumbing to
a heart attack.
1934 – Julian Carey Dixon is born in Washington, D.C. He will be
elected to the California State Assembly as a Democrat in
1972, and serve in that body for three terms. He will be
elected to the House of Representatives, representing
California’s 28th District, in 1978. He will chair the
rules committee at the 1984 Democratic National Convention
and the ethics probe into House Speaker Jim Wright. Dixon
will win re-election to the 107th United States Congress,
will join the ancestors, after succumbing to a heart attack,
on Decmber 8, 2000.
1960 – Ivory Coast declares independence from France.
1968 – A racially motivated disturbance breaks out in Miami,
1974 – Roberta Flack receives a gold record for the single, “Feel
Like Makin’ Love”. Flack, born in Asheville, North
Carolina and raised in Arlington, Virginia, had been
awarded a music scholarship to Howard University in
Washington, D.C., at the age of 15. One of her
classmates, Donny Hathaway, became a singing partner on
several hit songs. He joined her on “You’ve Got a Friend”,
“Where is the Love” and “The Closer I Get to You”. She will
have 10 hits on the pop charts in the 1970s and ’80s.
1975 – Julian “Cannonball” Adderley joins the ancestors at the age
of 47 in Gary, Indiana.
1984 – Carl Lewis wins the 3rd (200 meter sprint) of 4 gold medals
at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
2005 – Publisher John H. Johnson, whose Ebony and Jet magazines
countered stereotypical coverage of African Americans
after World War II and turned him into one of the most
influential African American leaders in America, joins the
ancestors at the age of 87.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.