December 9 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – December 9 *

1867 – The Georgia constitutional convention, consisting of 33
African American and 137 whites, opens in Atlanta,

1872 – P. B. S. Pinchback is sworn in as governor of Louisiana
after H.C. Warmoth is impeached “for high crimes and
misdemeanors.” He becomes the first African American
governor of a state.

1919 – Roy Rudolph DeCarava is born in New York City. He will
become a leading photographer of the African American
experience. He will win a scholarship to study at the
Cooper Union School of Art (1938–40), but will leave
after two years to attend the more congenial Harlem
Community Art Center (1940–42), where he will have
access to such figures as the artists Romare Bearden
and Jacob Lawrence and the poet Langston Hughes, He
will then attend the George Washington Carver Art
School (1944–45), where he will study with the Social
Realist, Charles White. He will initially take up
photography to record images he would use in his
painting, but he will come to prefer the camera to the
brush. In the late 1940s he will begin a series of
scenes of his native Harlem, aiming for “a creative
expression, the kind of penetrating insight and
understanding of Negroes which I believe only a Negro
photographer can interpret.” Edward Steichen, then
curator of photography for the Museum of Modern Art in
New York City, will attend his first solo show in 1950
and purchase several prints for the museum’s collection.
In 1952, he will be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship,
the first African American photographer to receive the
grant. Many of the photos enabled by this award will be
compiled in the book, “The Sweet Flypaper of Life” (1955;
reissued 1988), with text written by Langston Hughes. In
1958, he will become a freelance photographer. His
interest in education will lead him to found “A
Photographer’s Gallery” (1955–57), which will attempt to
gain public recognition for photography as an art form,
and a workshop for African American photographers in
1963. He will also teach at the Cooper Union School of
Art from 1969 to 1972. In 1975, he will join the faculty
at Hunter College. He will be perhaps best known for his
portraits of jazz musicians, which capture the essence
of such legends as Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Duke
Ellington, and Billie Holiday in the midst of performances.
These portraits, which he will begin in 1956, will be
shown in 1983 in an exhibit at Harlem’s Studio Museum.
Many of his jazz portraits will be published in “The Sound
I Saw: Improvisation on a Jazz Theme” (2001). In 1996, the
Museum of Modern Art will organize a DeCarava retrospective
that will travel to several cities and introduce his work
to a new generation. He will receive a National Medal of
Arts in 2006, the highest award given to artists by the
United States Government. He will join the ancestors on
October 27, 2009.

1922 – John Elroy (Redd Foxx) Sanford, is born in St. Louis,
Missouri. His off-color records and concerts will
catapult him to fame and his own television show,
“Sanford and Son,” and a later series, “The Royal
Family,” his last before he suddenly joins the ancestors
on October 11, 1991.

1938 – The first public service programming aired when Jack L.
Cooper launches the “Search for Missing Persons” show.
In 1929, he debuted “The All-Negro Hour on WSBC in Chicago.
He is considered to be the first African American disc
jockey and radio announcer.

1953 – Lloyd B. Free is born in Brooklyn, New York. He will
become a professional basketball player and will later
change his name to World B. Free. He will be a NBA
guard with the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers,
Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the
Houston Rockets. He will leave the NBA in 1988 with
17,955 career points and a career scoring average of
20.3 points per game.

1961 – Tanganyika gains independence from Great Britain and
takes the name Tanzania.

1961 – Wilt Chamberlain of the NBA Philadelphia Warriors scores
67 points vs. the New York Knicks.

1962 – Tanzania becomes a republic within the British

1963 – Zanzibar gains independence from Great Britain.

1971 – Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, Nobel Peace Prize winner and
Undersecretary of the United Nations from 1955 to his
retirement in October, 1971, joins the ancestors in New
York City at the age of 67.

1971 – Bill Pickett becomes the first African American elected
to the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. He is the
cowboy that invented the bulldogging event famous in
today’s rodeos.

1976 – Tony Dorsett is awarded the Heisman Trophy. Dorsett, a
running back for the University of Pittsburgh, amasses
a total of 6,082 total yards and will go on to play
with the Dallas Cowboys and help lead them to the Super

1984 – The Jackson’s Victory Tour comes to a close at Dodger
Stadium in Los Angeles, after 55 performances in 19
cities. The production is reported to be the world’s
greatest rock extravaganza and one of the most
problematic. The Jackson brothers receive about $50
million during the five-month tour of the United States
– before some 2.5 million fans.

1984 – Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears records another first
as he runs six plays, as quarterback. He is intercepted
twice, but runs the ball himself on four carries. The
Green Bay Packers still win 20-14. Payton says after
the game, “It was OK, but I wouldn’t want to do it for a

1984 – Eric Dickerson, of the Los Angeles Rams, becomes only the
second pro football player to run for more than 2,000
yards (2,105) in a season. He passes O.J. Simpson’s
record of 2,003 as the Rams beat the Houston Oilers

1989 – Craig Washington wins a special congressional election in
Texas’ 18th District to fill the seat vacated by the
death of George “Mickey” Leland.

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


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