Today in Black History – August 18 *
1791 – Benjamin Banneker publishes his first Almanac.
1909 – Howard Swanson is born in Atlanta, Georgia. He will become
a classical composer who will study in the United States
and Paris, France, and will write music for orchestra,
solo voice, piano, and chamber ensembles. His initial
training will be at the Cleveland Institute of Music. After
studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, France (1938), He
will spend two intensive periods studying and traveling in
New York. He will finally settle in New York City in 1966.
Thanks to Marian Anderson’s 1949 performance of his song
“The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” his music will begin to gain
national attention. He will win several awards, including
the Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Academy of Arts
and Letters grant. His neo-classical compositional method
will be appealing to a wide range of listeners, with
graceful melodies and a touch of jazz and idioms of black
American folk music. He will join the ancestors on November
1934 – Roberto Clemente is born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. He will
win the Gold Glove award TWELVE consecutive years and play
in twelve All-Star games. He will be the National League’s
Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1966, the MVP in the 1971
World Series, win four separate National League batting
titles, post a .317 career batting average, and play
eighteen seasons, amassing 3,000 hits and hammering 240
home runs. He will join the ancestors at the age of 38, on
a mercy mission to deliver relief supplies to the victims
of a Nicaraguan earthquake. Tragically, his plane,
carrying food, clothing and medical supplies, will crash
moments after takeoff from San Juan, Puerto Rico on
December 31, 1972.
1935 – Rafer Lewis Johnson is born in Hillsboro, Texas. He will
become a decathlete, winning gold in the 1955 Pan-American
Games, a silver medal in the 1956 Olympics and a gold medal
in the in the 1960 Summer Games in Rome. He will light the
torch in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
1941 – Matt Snell is born in Garfield, Georgia. He will become a
professional football player (running back for the New York
Jets). He will be one of the key players in the Jets
victory in Super Bowl III over the Baltimore Colts.
1954 – James E. Wilkins becomes the first African American to
attend a U.S. presidential cabinet meeting. He is
Assistant Secretary of Labor and attends because the
Secretary and Under-Secretary are away.
1963 – James Meredith becomes the first African American to
graduate from the University of Mississippi.
1964 – South Africa is banned from the Olympic Games because of
its apartheid policies.
1970 – Malcolm-Jamal Warner is born in Jersey City, New Jersey.
He will become an child actor and will star on the “The
Cosby Show” as Theodore “Theo” Huxtable. He will also star
as “Here and Now’s” Alexander James and “Malcolm and
1976 – Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely Jr. assumes command of the
U.S. Third Fleet.
1977 – Stephen Biko, one of the most influential Black student
leaders in South Africa, is arrested in Port Elizabeth
on charges of fomenting unrest among blacks in the city
through his writings. Biko will join the ancestors in
police detention less than a month later, as a result of
a beating by the police.
1981 – Football running back, Herschel Walker, of the University
of Georgia, takes out an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of
London. The All-American is insured for one million
1986 – Earl Campbell, the ‘Tyler Rose’, announces his retirement
from professional football. Campbell, the 1977 Heisman
Trophy winner, played eight seasons in the National
Football League — and was a star for the Houston Oilers.
He will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on
July 27, 1991.
Munirah Chronicle is edited by Rene’ A. Perry