* Today in Black History – August 21 *
1831 – Responding to a vision commanding him to lead his people
to freedom, Nat Turner and a group of seven freedom-
fighting slaves kill five members of the Travis family
in Southampton County, Virginia. Turner’s revolt will
last two days, involve 60 to 80 freedom-fighting slaves
and result in the deaths of at least 57 whites before
they go into hiding. Nat Turner manages to escape
capture for over six weeks. After his capture, he
confesses to his actions, is tried, and executed. This
revolt is significant because it will make the problem
of slavery visible to the Northerners, who within the
next 30 years will fight and die to end America’s
1906 – William “Count” Basie is born in Redbank, New Jersey.
One of the most influential forces in jazz, he will
amass numerous awards, including three Grammys and
Kennedy Center Honors in 1981 . He will join the
ancestors on April 26, 1984. NOTE: Many sources will
have 1904 for Count Basie’s birth year. Our source for
his birth and death is the Kennedy Center Archives
documenting “The Honors” bestowed on him in 1981.
1927 – The Fourth Pan-African Congress meets in New York City.
1932 – Melvin Van Pebbles is born in Chicago, Illinois. A
writer and dramatist, he will produce some of the more
important African American feature films of the 1960’s
and 1970’s, including “Story of a Three Day Pass,”
“Watermelon Man,” “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadass Song” and
the classic, “Putney Swope.”
1936 – Wilton Norman Chamberlain is born in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Achieving a height of 6’11” in high school,
he will be recruited to play basketball for Kansas
University. He will leave Kansas University in his third
year to play with the Harlem Globetrotters and join the
Philadelphia Warriors (later 76ers) in 1959. He will
join the Los Angeles Lakers in 1969 and become a player-
coach in 1968 for the San Diego Conquistadors of the
American Basketball Association. He will lead the NBA in
scoring seven times, accumulate a 4,029 season point
record and become a seven-time all-NBA first teamer. He
will join the ancestors on October 12, 1999.
1938 – The classic recording, “Ain’t Misbehavin” is made by Fats
1939 – Clarence Williams III is born in New York City. He will
become an actor best known for his starring role in the
television series, “The Mod Squad” as Lincoln.
1943 – Harriet M. West becomes the first African American woman
major in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). She becomes chief
of planning in the Bureau Control Division at the WAC
headquarters in Washington, DC.
1945 – Willie Lanier (Pro Football Hall of Famer and Kansas City
Chiefs linebacker: Super Bowl IV), is born.
1954 – Archie Griffin (Heisman Trophy winner: Ohio State [1974 &
1975]; Cincinnati Bengals running back: Super Bowl XVI),
1968 – Marine James Anderson Jr. becomes the first African
American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor
for his service in the Vietnam War.
1972 – The Republican National Convention convenes in Miami Beach,
Florida, with fifty-six African American delegates, 4.2
\ per cent of the total.
1986 – More than 1,700 people die when toxic gas erupts from a
volcanic lake in the West African nation of Cameroon.
1998 – Juanita Kidd Stout, the first African American woman to
serve on the supreme court in any state (January, 1988),
joins the ancestors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Stout
loses a battle against leukemia at Thomas Jefferson
2000 – Julian Richardson, the owner of a San Francisco book
store that served as a meeting place for black artists
and activists in the city, joins the ancestors after
succumbing to heart failure at the age of 84. He
established the Marcus Bookstore in 1960, naming it after
Black nationalist writer and activist Marcus Garvey. The
store was a staple of black culture and was a gathering
place for Black Panthers supporters during the civil
rights era. Through the years, writers such as Alice
Walker, Ishmael Reed, Terry MacMillan and Cornel West
came to the bookstore. He studied lithography in college
and opened his own printing business. He used his skills
to print books, pamphlets and manuscripts on black
culture that otherwise would have to have been ordered
from the East Coast.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.