* Today in Black History – October 19 *
1859 – Byrd Prillerman is born a slave in Shady Grove,
Franklin County, Virginia. He will become an
educator, reformer, religious worker, political
figure, and lawyer. He will be best known as the co-
founder of the West Virginia Colored Institute in
1891. The school will be changed to the West
Virginia Collegiate Institute in 1915. The school,
under Prillerman’s leadership, will become the first
state school for African Americans to reach the rank
of an accredited college whose work is accepted by
the universities of the North. The school will
eventually become West Virginia State College, then
West Virginia State University. He will join the
ancestors on April 25, 1929.
1870 – The first African Americans are elected to the House
of Representatives. African American Republicans
won three of the four congressional seats in South
Carolina: Joseph H. Rainey, Robert C. DeLarge and
Robert B. Elliott. Rainey was elected to an un-
expired term in the Forty-first Congress and was the
first African American seated in the House.
1920 – Alberta Peal is born in Cleveland, Ohio. She will
become a television and movie actress better known as
LaWanda Page and will star in “Mausoleum,” “Women Tell
the Dirtiest Jokes,” “Shakes the Clown,” and “Don’t Be
a Menace.” She will be best known for her role as Aunt
Esther in the long-running television series, “Sanford
and Sons.” She will join the ancestors on September 14,
1924 – “From Dixie to Broadway” premieres at the Broadhurst
Theatre in New York City. The music is written by
Will Vodery, an African American, who arranged music
for the Ziegfeld Follies for 23 years.
1936 – Johnnetta Betsch (later Cole) is born in Jacksonville,
Florida. She will have a distinguished career as an
educator and administrator and will become the first
African American woman to head Spelman College.
1944 – Winston Hubert McIntosh is born in Westmoreland, Jamaica.
He will become a founding father of reggae music and be
part of the song writing magic of the Wailers, Bob
Marley’s group. He will be better known as Peter Tosh.
He will join the ancestors in September 11, 1987 after
being shot during a robbery attempt.
1944 – The Navy announces that African American women would be
allowed to become WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer
1946 – The first exhibition of the work of Josef Nassy, an
American citizen of Dutch-African descent, is held in
Brussels. The exhibit consists of 90 paintings and
drawings Nassy created while in a Nazi-controlled
internment camp during World War II.
1960 – Jennifer-Yvette Holiday is born in Riverside, Texas.
She will become a singer and actress and will have her
first big break as a star in the Broadway production
of “Dream Girls” in 1981. She will later become a
successful recording artist. She will be best known for
her debut single, the Dreamgirls showstopper and Grammy
Award-winning Rhythm & Blues/Pop hit, “And I Am Telling
You I’m Not Going.”
1960 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested in an Atlanta,
Georgia sit-in demonstration.
1962 – Evander Holyfield is born in Atmore, Alabama. He will
become a professional boxer. Over the course of his
career, he will become IBF Heavyweight Champion, WBA
Heavyweight Champion, three time World Champion, and
Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion.
1981 – The Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and Archives opens
in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded by Coretta Scott King,
the facility, is the largest repository in the world
of primary resource material on Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr., nine major civil rights organizations, and
the American civil rights movement.
1983 – Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop joins the
ancestors after being assassinated after refusing to
share leadership of the New Jewel Movement with his
deputy, Bernard Coard. This event will indirectly
lead to the invasion of Grenada by the United States
and six Caribbean nations.
1983 – The U.S. Senate approves the establishment of the
Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday on the third
Monday in January.
1988 – South African anti-apartheid leader, Walter Sisulu wins
a $100,000 Human Rights prize.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.