Book review: Americanah

Book of words

The best way for me to summarize “Americanah” by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is to describe the wonderful warm and fuzzy feeling after completing the book. Even though it was a work of fiction, the experiences described felt raw, personal and compelling in a way that could only come from someone who had been through all of them.

Americanah is the story of young lovers Ifemelu and Obinze who first met in high school in Nigeria which was then under military rule, a period dominated by upheavals and uncertainties that drove the poor as well as the well-educated locals to look elsewhere for greener pastures. Such circumstances inevitably forced them to search for better lives, Ifemelu to the U.S. and Obinze to England, and separated their fates.

While in foreign lands, their identities instantly transformed as they became African migrants confronted with new sets of problems they had never…

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August 4 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – August 4 *

1810 – Robert Purvis is born in Charleston, South Carolina to a
wealthy white cotton merchant father, William Purvis and
a mulatto mother, Harriet Judah. After graduating from
Amherst College in Massachusetts, he will move to
Pennsylvania. In 1833, he will help William Lloyd
Garrison establish the American Anti-Slavery Society,
sign its Declaration of Sentiments and will be on the
first board of managers. In the same year, he will help
establish the Library Company of Colored People. In 1838,
he will draft “Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens
Threatened with Disfranchisement,” which supports the
repeal of a new state statute barring African Americans
from voting. As a supporter of the Underground Railroad,
he will serve as chairman of the General Vigilance
Committee from 1852 until 1857. According to records that
he will keep, from 1831 until 1861, he estimates that he
helped one slave achieve freedom per day. According to
these figures, he helped 9,000 slaves achieve freedom.
He will join the ancestors on April 15, 1898.

1870 – White conservatives suppress the African American vote and
capture the Tennessee legislature in an election marred
by assassinations and widespread violence. The campaign
effectively ends Radical Reconstruction in North Carolina.
The conservative legislature will impeach Governor Holden
on December 14.

1875 – The Convention of Colored Newspapermen is held in
Cincinnati, Ohio. The meeting is attended by J. Sella
Martin of the “True Republican”, Mifflin W. Gibbs, former
publisher of California’s “Mirror of the Times”
representing the “Pacific Appeal”, Henry McNeal Turner of
Philadelphia’s “Christian Recorder”, the San Francisco
“Elevator’s” L. H. Douglass, and Henry Scroggins of the
“American Citizen” (Lexington, Kentucky). Chairman P.B.S.
Pinchback states the aim of the national organization: “to
make colored people’s newspapers self-sustaining.” At the
time of the convention, Martin’s “New Era” and Frederick
Douglass’ “North Star” are among eight African American
newspaper failures.

1885 – W.C. Carter invents the umbrella stand.

1890 – Sam T. Jack’s play “Creoles” opens in Haverhill,
Massachusetts. It is the first time African American women
are featured as performers on the stage.

1891 – George Washington Williams joins the ancestors in Blackpool,
England at the age of 41. He was the first major African
American historian and published his major work, “History
of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880” in 1883.

1896 – W.S. Grant patents a curtain rod support.

1897 – Henry Rucker is appointed collector of Internal Revenue for

1901 – Daniel Louis Armstrong is born in New Orleans, Louisiana.
He will become a jazz musician specializing in the cornet
and trumpet. He will win a Grammy Award for his rendition
of “Hello, Dolly!” in 1964. He will be awarded the
Lifetime Achievement Award in 1971. Some of his other hits
will be “It’s a Wonderful World,” “Mack the Knife,” and
“Blueberry Hill.” He will also be featured in films: “The
Five Pennies,” “The Glenn Miller Story,” “Hello Dolly!,”
and “High Society.” He will be referred to as the American
ambassador of good will and will be inducted into the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Throughout his life, he will
resent the nickname “Satchmo”, short for satchel mouth. He
will join the ancestors on July 6, 1971.

1916 – The United States purchases the Danish Virgin Islands for
$25 million.

1931 – Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, heart surgeon, founder of
Chicago’s Provident Hospital, joins the ancestors.

1936 – “Long” John Woodruff, of the University of Pittsburgh, wins
a gold medal in the 800-meter run at the Olympic Summer
Games in Berlin, Germany. He, like Jesse Owens (who had won
his second medal earlier in the day), will be snubbed by
Adolph Hitler, who believes that blacks are incapable of
athletic achievement.

1936 – Jesse Owens sets a new Olympic running broad jump record by
leaping 26′ 5 5/16″.

1953 – The movement of African American families into the Trumbull
Park housing project in Chicago, Illinois, triggers
virtually continuous riot conditions which will last more
than three years and require the assignment of more than
one thousand policemen to keep order.

1962 – Nelson Mandela is captured and jailed by South African

1964 – James E. Chaney and two other civil rights workers’ bodies
are found in an earthen dam on a farm in Philadelphia,
Mississippi. They had been missing since June 21. The FBI
says that they had been murdered on the night of their
disappearance by segregationists. Eighteen whites,
including several police officers, were charged with
conspiracy to deprive the victims of their civil rights.

1969 – Willie Stargell is the first to hit a home run out of Dodger

1980 – Maury Wills is named manager of the Seattle Mariners. He is
the third African American to be named a major league

1985 – California Angel Rod Carew gets his 3,000th base hit.

1996 – On the final day of the Atlanta Olympics, Josia Thugwane
became the first Black South African to win a gold medal as
he finished first in the marathon.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

August 3 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – August 3 *

1832 – Edward Wilmot Blyden is born in St. Thomas, West Indies. By
the age of 24, he will migrate to Liberia and become an
established author of the pamphlets “A Voice from Bleeding
Africa”, in which he attacks slavery, and “A Vindication of
the African Race.” Throughout his life, he will be an
advocate of African Americans returning to their ancestral
homes. He will join the ancestors on February 7, 1912 in
Freetown, Sierra Leone.

1865 – The provisional governor of Florida abolishes slavery by

1908 – A site plan for the town of Allensworth, California, is
filed with the Tulare County recorder. The town is founded
by African American Allen Allensworth, “in order to enable
black people to live on an equity [basis] with whites and
to encourage industry and thrift in the race.”

1928 – William A. Scott, III, founds the “Atlanta World” newspaper.
It will become a bi-weekly in 1930 and on March 13, 1932,
will become the “Atlanta Daily World,” the first African
American daily newspaper in modern times.

1956 – Willie Williams of the United States sets the then 100 meter
record at 10.1 seconds.

1957 – Archibald J. Carey, Chicago minister and attorney, is
appointed the first African American chairman of the
President’s Committee on Government Employment Policy.

1960 – The Republic of Niger achieves its independence from France.

1970 – Two thousand delegates and observers attend the Congress of
African Peoples convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

1972 – The Federal Communications Commission upholds a political
candidate’s right to broadcast paid commercials with racist
content if such broadcast presents no danger of violence or
incitement to violence.

1989 – Rickey Henderson sets American League mark of 50 stolen
bases in nine seasons.

2011 – Nine-year NFL veteran and “Police Academy” franchise star Charles
Aaron “Bubba” Smith joins the ancestors at the age of 66 in his
Los Angeles home. The imposing 6-foot-7 Smith retired from the
NFL in 1976 after stints as a defensive lineman with the
Baltimore Colts, Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers. He appeared
twice in the Pro Bowl while playing for the Colts. After
retiring from football, he turned to acting, most notably
starring as Moses Hightower in all but one of the “Police
Academy” films.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

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

August 1 African American Historical Events

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
African Americans.

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
people worldwide.

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
in 1986.

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
of Commerce.

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
Summer Games.

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.

July 31 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – July 31 *

1874 – Patrick Francis Healy, a Jesuit priest, is inaugurated as
president of Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
Healy is the first African American to head a
predominantly white university and is credited with the
modernization of the university’s curriculum and the
expansion of its campus.

1921 – Whitney Young, Jr. is born in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky. He
will become dean of Atlanta University’s School of Social
Work before becoming executive director of the National
Urban League. As its leader during the 1960’s, he will
guide the organization through one of the most socially
and politically active decades in America’s history. A
1969 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,
Young will speak out against government and business’ lack
f commitment to African Americans. During a visit to
Nigeria in 1971, he will join the ancestors on March 11,
1971 after a swimming accident in Lagos.

1931 – Kenny Burrell is born in Detroit, Michigan. He will become
a prolific composer and professional musician specializing
in the guitar. For over forty years, he will be a jazz
professional. Kenny, who will credit Charlie Christian,
Oscar Moore, and Django Reinhardt as influences, as well
as such bluesmen as T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters, will
play on his first major recording session in Detroit in
1951 with a Dizzy Gillespie combo that will include John
Coltrane, Milt Jackson, and Percy Heath. Even though the
young guitarist will keep heavy company, including that of
such other up-and-coming Detroiters as Tommy Flanagan,
Yusef Lateef, Pepper Adams, and Elvin Jones, he will
remain in Detroit to study at Wayne State University, from
which he will earn a B.A. in music composition and theory
in 1955. He will also study classical guitar with Joseph
Fava during that period and continue to employ finger-
style and other techniques. After the mid-Sixties, he will
lead his own group plus work in “All-Star” settings and
will perform with college bands and orchestras. He will
also perform with professional orchestras such as the
Detroit Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

1938 – New York Yankees suspend Jake Powell, after he says on
Chicago radio that he would “hit every colored person in
Chicago over the head with a club.”

1960 – At a New York City meeting of the Nation of Islam, the
Honorable Elijah Muhammad calls for the creation of a
Black state in America.

1962 – Wesley Snipes is born in Orlando, Florida. After growing
up in the Bronx, New York City, he will become a film
actor starring in films such as “New Jack City,” “Jungle
Fever,” “Passenger 57,” “Demolition Man,” “Money Train,”
“Rising Sun,” “Major League,” “Sugar Hill,” “White Men
Can’t Jump,” and “King of New York.”

1969 – Racially motivated disturbances in Baton Rouge cause the
governor of Louisiana to mobilize the National Guard.

1981 – Attorney Arnette R. Hubbard is installed as the first
woman president of the National Bar Association, the
largest national group of African American attorneys,
legal scholars, and jurists. Hubbard is a graduate of
John Marshall Law School in Chicago and past president
of the Cook County Bar Association.

1985 – Prince is big at the box-office with the autobiographical
story of the Minneapolis rock star — “Purple Rain.” The
ilm grosses $7.7 million in its first three days of
release on 917 movie screens. The album of the same name
is, at the time, the top LP in the United States, as well.

1988 – Willie Stargell, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates, becomes
the 200th man inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame at
Cooperstown, New York.

1990 – Shoal Creek, a private club in Birmingham, Alabama, that
drew criticism for being all-white, announces it had
accepted a Black businessman as an honorary member.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

July 30 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – July 30 *

1822 – James Varick is consecrated as the first bishop of the
African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion (AMEZ). Varick
had formed the first African American church in New York
City in 1796 when forced to sit in segregated seating in
the white John Street Methodist Episcopal Church and had
established the first AMEZ church in New Haven,

1839 – Slave rebels, led by Joseph Cinque, kill the captain and
take over the slave ship Amistad in the most celebrated
of American slave mutinies. The rebels were captured off
Long Island on August 26.

1863 – President Lincoln gave an order to shoot a Confederate
prisoner for every African American prisoner that was shot;
it became known as the “eye-for-eye” order. A rebel
prisoner would also be condemned to life in prison doing
hard labor, for every African American prisoner sold into
slavery. The order had restraining influence on the
Confederate government, though individual commanders and
soldiers continued to murder captured African American

1864 – The Union Army explodes a mine under rebel lines near
Petersburg, Virginia, commits three white and one African
American divisions and is soundly defeated. The African
American division of the Ninth Corps sustains heavy
casualties in an ill-planned attack. The only Union success
of the day is scored by the Forty-third U.S. Colored Troops
which captures two hundred rebel prisoners and two stands
of colors. Decatur Dorsey of the Thirty-ninth U.S. Colored
Troops wins a Congressional Medal of Honor.

1866 – Edward G. Walker, son of abolitionist David Walker, and
Charles L. Mitchell are elected to the Massachusetts
Assembly from Boston and become the first African Americans
to sit in the legislature of an American state in the
post-Civil War period.

1866 – White Democrats, led by police, attack a convention of
African American and white Republicans in New Orleans,
Louisiana. More than 40 persons are killed, and at least
150 persons are wounded. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, Military
commander of the state, says “It was not riot; it was an
absolute massacre…which the mayor and the police of the
city perpetrated without the shadow of a necessity.”

1885 – Eugene Kinckle Jones is born in Richmond, Virginia. He will
attend Cornell University where he will become one of the
seven founders of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. After
completing his education, he will become a social worker
and first executive secretary of the National Urban League.
During his 20-year tenure with the league, he will be
instrumental in its expansion to 58 affiliates and a budget
of $2.5 million as well as expanding its fellowship program
to train social workers. The League, under his direction,
will significantly expand its multifaceted campaign to crack
the barriers to black employment, spurred first by the boom
years of the 1920s, and then, by the desperate years of the
Great Depression. He will implement boycotts against firms
that refused to employ blacks, pressure schools to expand
vocational opportunities for young people, constantly
prod Washington officials to include blacks in New Deal
recovery programs, and drive to get blacks into previously
segregated labor unions. He will be a member of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet, an informal group of
African American public policy advisors to the President.
He will join the ancestors on January 11, 1954.

1945 – Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., activist and politician, is elected
to the U.S. House of Representatives representing Harlem.

1956 – Anita Hill is born in Morris, Oklahoma. She will become an
attorney, educator, author and activist. She will receive
her law degree from Yale University, and after a stint at
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), she will
teach law at the University of Oklahoma. In 1991 she will be
catapulted into the public spotlight when she brings
allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court
nominee Clarence Thomas. At Thomas’s Senate confirmation
hearings, she will testify that Thomas had made unwelcome
sexual advances while he was her supervisor at the EEOC in
the 1980s. Although Thomas’s appointment will be
subsequently confirmed, her testimony will bring the issue
of sexual harassment to public attention, forever changing
relations between men and women in the workplace. In 1997,
she will publish “Speaking Truth to Power,” a personal
memoir and study of her involvement in the Thomas hearings.
She will resume her teaching career at Brandeis University.

1959 – Willie McCovey steps to the plate for the first time in his
major-league baseball career. McCovey, of the San Francisco
Giants bats 4-for-4 in his debut against Robin Roberts of
the Philadelphia Phillies. He hits two singles and two
triples, driving in two runs. It is the start of an All-Star
career that will land McCovey in baseball’s Hall of Fame in
Cooperstown, New York.

1961 – Lawrence Fishburne is born in Augusta, Georgia. He will start
his acting career at the age of 12, getting his big break
portraying Joshua Hall on the ABC soap opera, “One Life to
Live in 1973.” He will be originally cast in the hit tv show
“Good Times,” but the role will eventually go to Ralph
Carter. He will later earn a supporting role in Francis Ford
Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” as well as a recurring role as
“Cowboy Curtis” alongside Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) in
the CBS children’s television show, “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.”
However, it will be his 1991 role in “Boyz N The Hood” that
gains him lasting recognition as an outstanding actor. The
next year, he will win a Tony Award for his stage
performance in August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running,” which
is followed by an Oscar nomination one year later for his
portrayal of Ike Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It?.”
Also in 1992, he will receive an Emmy Award for an episode
of the short-lived TV series “Tribeca.” He will be known for
his role as Morpheus, the hacker-mentor of Neo (Keanu
Reeves) in the blockbuster science fiction movie series “The
Matrix.” He will also appear alongside Tom Cruise as his IMF
superior in Mission: Impossible III.

1967 – Eight days of racially motivated disturbances end in Detroit,
Michigan. The uprising, the worst of its kind in the 20th
century, kills 43 people, injures 2,000, and results in over
5,000 arrests and over 1,400 fires.

1967 – A racially motivated disturbance occurs in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. Four persons are killed.

1970 – Author, television columnist, and Hofstra University
professor Louis Lomax, joins the ancestors after being
fatally injured in a car accident near Santa Rosa, New

1984 – Reggie Jackson hits the 494th home run of his career,
passing the Yankees’ Lou Gehrig and taking over 13th place
on the all-time home run list. Larry Sorenson is the
victim who gave up Reggie’s milestone homer.

1988 – The first National Black Arts Festival opens in Atlanta,
Georgia. The biennial festival includes over 50
architectural and art exhibits including the works of
Romare Bearden, Edwin Harleston, Camille Billops, David
Driskell, and over 140 others.

1994 – The first U.S. troops land in the Rwandan capital of Kigali
to secure the airport for an expanded international aid

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

July 29 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – July 29 *

1895 – The First National Convention of Black Women is held in
Boston, Massachusetts.

1909 – Chester Himes is born in Jefferson City, Missouri. He will
become a noted crime novelist whose books will reflect his
encounters with racism. The domination of his dark-skinned
father by his light-skinned mother was a source of deep
resentment that will shape his racial outlook. The family’s
frequent relocations, as well as the accidental blinding of
his brother, will further disrupt his childhood. He will
attend Ohio State University. From 1929 to 1936 he will be
jailed at the Ohio State Penitentiary for armed robbery,
and while there, he will begin to write fiction. A number
of his stories will appear in Esquire and other American
magazines. After his release from prison, he will work at
numerous odd jobs and join the Works Progress
Administration, eventually serving as a writer with the
Ohio Writers’ Project. His first novel, “If He Hollers Let
Him Go” (1945), will detail the fear, anger, and humiliation
of a black employee of a racist defense plant during World
War II. “Lonely Crusade” (1947) will concern racism in the
labor movement. “Cast the First Stone” (1952) will portray
prison life, and “The Third Generation” (1954) will examine
family life. In the mid-1950s, he will move to Paris. There
he will write chiefly murder mysteries set in New York
City’s village of Harlem. These will include “The Crazy Kill
(1959), “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” which describe the
underbelly of the American dream and introduce “Gravedigger
Jones” and “Coffin Ed Johnson” to the reading public (1965;
will be made into a film in 1970), and “Blind Man with a
Pistol” (1969; that will later be retitled “Hot Day, Hot
Night”). Among his other works will be “Run Man, Run” (1966),
a thriller; “Pinktoes” (1961), a satirical work of
interracial erotica; “Come Back Charleston Blue”; and “Black
on Black” (1973), a collection of stories. He will also
publish two volumes of autobiography, “The Quality of Hurt”
(1972) and “My Life As Absurdity” (1976). He will join the
ancestors on November 12, 1984 in Moraira, Spain.

1919 – The first convention of the National Association of Negro
Musicians is held in Chicago. Illinois. NANM’s charter
members include Clarence Cameron White, who will call for
the formation of the association, and R. Nathaniel Dett,
Nora Holt, and Florence Cole Talbert among others. NANM
will be active in furthering African American music and
performers, and will award its first scholarship to a
young Marian Anderson. NANM continues to exist, with
chapters all over the country. Its headquarters will be
located in Chicago, Illinois.

1942 – William Dean, Jr., plans a boycott unless African Americans
are permitted to play on major league baseball teams.

1970 – Six days of racially motivated disturbances start in
Hartford, Connecticut, leaving one person dead.

1974 – Lou Brock of the St. Louis Cardinals steals his 700th base.

1988 – The South African government bans the anti-apartheid film
“Cry Freedom”.

1991 – Physician Bernard A. Harris, Jr. becomes a full-fledged
astronaut. Harris, who will join NASA’s Johnson Space
Center in 1987 as a clinical scientist and flight surgeon,
is now eligible for future flight assignments.

1996 – At the Atlanta Olympics, Carl Lewis wins the gold medal in
the long jump, becoming only the fifth Olympian to win
gold medals in four straight games.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.