October 21 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – October 21 *

1832 – Maria W. Stewart, an African American women’s rights and
abolitionist speaker, says in her farewell address
“…for it’s not the color of the skin that makes the
man or woman, but the principle formed in the soul.”

1865 – Jamaican National Hero, George William Gordon, is
unfairly arrested and charged for complicity in what is
now called the Morant Bay Rebellion. George William
Gordon was a free colored land owner. Born to a slave
mother and a planter father, who was attorney to several
sugar estates in Jamaica, he was self-educated and
became a landowner in St. Thomas. Gordon had urged the
people to protest against and to resist the oppressive
and unjust conditions under which they were forced to
live. He is illegally tried by court martial and, in
spite of a lack of evidence, convicted and sentenced to

1872 – John H. Conyers, Sr. becomes the first African American
admitted to the United States Naval Academy.

1917 – John Birks (“Dizzy”) Gillespie is born in Cheraw, South
Carolina. He will, with Charlie Parker and Theolonious
Monk, be the founder of the revolutionary bebop movement
in the very early 1940’s. His music accomplishments
will include formation of the Dee Gee and Verve labels.
He will perform in clubs and concert halls in Harlem,
Canada and Europe. His music will earn him a Grammy
Award in 1974 and 1980. He will join the ancestors on
January 6, 1993 in Englewood, New Jersey.

1950 – Ronald E. McNair is born in Lake City, South Carolina.
He will become an astronaut and the first African
American astronaut to perish during a mission (Challenger
– STS 41B, 51L disaster).

1950 – Earl Lloyd, becomes the first African American person to
play in an NBA game (beating out Charles Cooper and Nat
Clifton by one day). He will later become the first
African American NBA Assistant Coach and first African
American NBA chief scout.

1969 – A bloodless coup occurs in Somalia (National Day).

1977 – The United States recalls William Bowdler, ambassador to
South Africa, due to the country’s apartheid policies.

1979 – The Black Fashion Museum is opened in Harlem by Lois
Alexander to highlight the achievements and
contributions of African Americans to fashion.

1980 – Valerie Thomas invents the illusion transmitter.

1989 – Bertram M. Lee and Peter C.B. Bynoe sign an agreement to
purchase the National Basketball Association’s Denver
Nuggets for $54 million. They become the first African
American owners of a professional basketball team.

1999 – Gaston T. Neal, a community activist and influential
performance poet, who was best known for his work in the
genre of the Black power movement and social change,
joins the ancestors after a bout with lymphatic cancer,
at his home in Washington, DC.

2003 – Fred Berry, actor, joins the ancestors at the age of 52
after succumbing to a stroke. He played the character
“Rerun” on the TV sitcom “What’s Happening!!”

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


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