December 11 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – December 11 *

1872 – America’s first African American governor takes office as 
Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback became acting governor 
of Louisiana. 

1916 – John E. Bush, former slave and teacher, joins the 
ancestors. He had been appointed receiver of the United 
States Land Office in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1898. 

1917 – 13 African American soldiers are hanged for alleged 
participation in a Houston riot.

1917 – The Great Jazz migration begins as Joe Oliver leaves New 
Orleans and settles in Chicago, to be joined later by 
other stars.

1917 – The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is presented to Harry T. 
Burleigh, composer and accomplished opera singer, for 
excellence in the field of music.

1926 – Willie Mae Thornton is born in Montgomery, Alabama. She 
will be better known as “Big Mama” Thornton, a blues 
singer whose recording of “Hound Dog” in 1952 will be 
mimicked by Elvis Presley, much to his success. She 
also recorded the hits “Ball & Chain,” and “Stronger 
than Dirt.” She will join the ancestors on July 25, 1984.

1928 – Lewis Latimore joins the ancestors in Flushing, New York. 
Employed as a chief draftsman, Mr. Latimore created the 
drawings for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone in 1870.

1931 – The British Statute of Westminster gives complete 
legislative independence to South Africa.

1940 – Lev T. Mills, who will become an artist and chairman of 
the art department at Spelman College, is born in 
Tallahassee, Florida. His prints and mixed-media works 
will be collected by the Victoria & Albert and British 
Museums in London and the High Museum in Atlanta and 
include glass mosaic murals for an Atlanta subway station 
and the atrium floor of Atlanta’s City Hall.

1954 – Jermaine Jackson is born in Gary, Indiana. He will become 
a singer and musician with his brothers and perform with 
their group, The Jackson Five.

1961 – U.S. Supreme Court reverses the conviction of sixteen 
sit-in students who had been arrested in Baton Rouge, 

1961 – Langston Hughes’ musical, “Black Nativity,” opens on 

1964 – Sam Cooke joins the ancestors after being killed. Bertha 
Franklin, Manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, 
claimed she killed the singer in self-defense after he’d 
tried to rape a 22-year-woman and then turned on Franklin. 

1980 – George Rogers, a running back for the University of South 
Carolina, is awarded the Heisman Trophy. He achieved 21
consecutive 100-yard games with the gamecocks and led the 
nation in rushing.

1981 – Muhammad Ali’s boxes in his 61st & last fight, losing to 
Trevor Berbick.

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


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