* Today in Black History – September 20 *
1664 – Maryland enacts the first anti-amalgamation law to prevent
widespread intermarriage of English women and African
American men. Other colonies passed similar laws:
Virginia, 1691; Massachusetts 1705; North Carolina, 1715;
South Carolina, 1717; Delaware, 1721; Pennsylvania, 1725.
1830 – The National Negro Convention, a group of 38 free African
Americans from eight states, meets in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, at the Bethel A.M.E. Church, with the
express purpose of abolishing slavery and improving the
social status of African Americans. They will elect
Richard Allen president and agree to boycott slave-
1847 – William A. Leidesdorff is elected to San Francisco town
council receiving the third highest vote. Leidesdorff,
who was one of the first African American elected
officials, becomes the town treasurer in 1848.
1850 – Slave trade is abolished in Washington, DC, but slavery
will be allowed to continue until 1862.
1890 – Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe (“Jelly Roll” Morton) is born
in Gulfport (New Orleans), Louisiana. He will become a
renown jazz pianist and composer. Morton, whose fabulous
series of 1938 recordings for the Library of Congress are
a gold mine of information about early jazz, was a
complex man. Vain, ambitious, and given to exaggeration,
he was a pool shark, hustler and gambler, as well as a
brilliant pianist and composer. His greatest talent,
perhaps was for organizing and arranging. The series of
records he made with his “Red Hot Peppers” between 1926
and 1928 stands, alongside King Oliver’s as the crowning
glory of the New Orleans tradition and one of the great
achievements in Jazz. He will join the ancestors on
July 10, 1941
1915 – Hughie Lee-Smith is born in Eustis, Florida. He will
become a painter known for such surrealistic landscapes
as “Man with Balloons”, “Man Standing on His Head” and
“Big Brother”. He will join the ancestors on February 23,
1943 – Sani Abacha is born in Kano, Nigeria. After being educated
in his home state, will become a soldier and go to England
for advanced military education. He will achieve many
promotions as a soldier and by the mid-1980s, will enter
Nigeria’s military elite. In 1983 he will be among those
who will overthrow Shehu Shagari, leader of the Second
Republic, in a coup which led to the military rule of
Muhammadu Buhari. In 1985, Abacha will participate in a
second coup, which will replace Buhari with General
Ibrahim Babangida. As head of state, Babangida will
announce that free elections will be held in the early
1990s. In 1993, however, after Babangida nullifies the
results of these belated free elections, Abacha will
stage a third coup and oust his former ally. His regime
will be characterized by a concern with security that
verges on paranoia. Abacha will schedule elections for
August, 1998, but months beforehand, all five legal
parties nominate him as their “consensus candidate.” On
June 8, 1998, he will join the ancestors when he succumbs
unexpectedly to a heart attack.
1958 – Martin Luther King Jr. is stabbed in the chest by a
deranged African American woman while he is autographing
books in a Harlem department store. The woman is placed
under mental observation.
1962 – Mississippi’s governor, Ross Barnett, personally refuses
to admit James Meredith to University of Mississippi as
its first African American student. (Meredith is later
1962 – The Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) is banned in an
order issued by Sir Edgar Whitehead, the prime minister of
1973 – Willie Mays announces his retirement from major league
baseball at the end of the 1973 baseball season.
1979 – A bloodless coup overthrows Jean-Bedel Bokassa, self-styled
head of the Central African Empire, in a French-supported
coup while he is visiting Libya.
1984 – NBC-TV debuts “The Cosby Show”. Bill Cosby plays Dr.
Heathcliff (Cliff) Huxtable. His lovely wife, Clair, is
played by Phylicia Rashad. The Huxtable kids were Sondra,
age 20 (Sabrina Le Beauf), Denise, age 16 (Lisa Bonet),
Theodore, age 14 (Malcom-Jamal Warner), Vanessa, age 8
(Tempestt Bledsoe) and Rudy, age 5 (Keshia Knight Pulliam).
The premiere is the most watched show of the week and the
show goes on to become an Emmy Award-winner and one of the
most popular on television for eight years. The series,
which had been rejected by other network television
executives, will become one of the most popular in
1987 – Alfre Woodard wins an Emmy for outstanding guest performance
in the dramatic series “L.A. Law”. It is her second Emmy
award, her first having been for a supporting role in “Hill
Street Blues” in 1984.
1987 – Walter Payton scores the NFL record 107th rushing touchdown.
1999 – Lawrence Russell Brewer becomes the second white supremacist
to be convicted in the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in
Jasper, Texas. He will be later sentenced to death.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.