Today in Black History – December 19 *
1798 – Portrait painter Joshua Johnston places an ad in the
“Baltimore Intelligencer” describing himself as “a self-
taught genius.” Johnston, a freeman, will paint portraits
of some of the most successful merchant families in
Maryland and Virginia. Only three of his subjects will
be African American, among them “Portrait of an Unknown
Man” and “Reverend Daniel Coker.”
1875 – Carter G. Woodson is born in New Canton, Virginia. A
founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life
and History, of the “Journal of Negro History,” and Negro
History Week, Woodson will write many books on African
American history. The most popular of his books will be,
“The Negro in Our History,” which will be used extensively
in high schools throughout the United States. He will join
the ancestors on April 3, 1950.
1886 – Clementine Rubin (later Hunter) is born in Clourtierville,
Louisiana. Because there were no birth certificates
issued in rural Louisiana during this time, there is much
controversy about her exact date of birth. Sources mention
her birth in December 1886 and January 1887. The only
real documentation of her earliest existence is a
christening document dated March, 1887. She will become a
painter in the 1930’s after spending years working on the
Melrose Plantation, a haven for many rural Southern
artists. Her first artistic medium will be quilt making,
and her first piece will be in 1938 exhibiting the
hardships of plantation life. Her first painting will be
completed in 1939. In 1955, she will become the first
African American artist to have a one person show at the
Delgado Museum (now known as the New Orleans Museum of
Art). Her folk-art style will earn her the nickname “the
Black Grandma Moses.” By the time she joins the ancestors
on January 1, 1988, she will be considered one of the
twentieth century’s leading folk artists.
1891 – Charles Randolph Uncles becomes the first African American
Catholic priest ordained in the United States. He is
ordained in Baltimore, Maryland.
1910 – The first city ordinance requiring white and black
residential areas is passed by the Baltimore City Council.
Similar laws will be passed in Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke,
Greensboro, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Dallas and
1910 – The Pittsburgh Courier newspaper is founded.
1910 – North Carolina College is founded in Durham, North Carolina.
1910 – The Norfolk Journal and Guide is established under the
leadership of P. B. Young Sr.
1930 – James Weldon Johnson resigns as executive secretary of
NAACP citing health reasons.
1930 – The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is awarded to Henry A. Hunt,
Principal, Fort Valley High and Industrial School, Fort
Valley, Georgia, for his pioneering work as an educator.
1930 – Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, founded at Howard University in
1913, is incorporated.
1933 – Cicely Tyson is born in the Village of Harlem in New York
City. She will pursue a modeling career, appearing on the
covers of both “Vogue” and “Harper’s Bazaar at the age of
23. She will later pursue acting and win acclaim for her
roles on the stage and on television, as well as in the
movie, Sounder (for which she will be named best actress
by the National Society of Film Critics and receive an
Academy Award nomination) and “The Autobiography of Miss
Jane Pittman,” for which she will win two Emmys.
1941 – Maurice White is born. He will become a singer, musician
(drummer) and founder of Earth, Wind & Fire. Some of his
hits include “Shining Star,” “Sing a Song,” “Got to Get
You into My Life,” “After the Love Has Gone,” and “Best of
1944 – Timothy Reid is born in Norfolk, Virginia. He will become
a comedian and known for his role as “Venus Flytrap” on
“WKRP in Cincinnati, as well as “Frank’s Place.”
1961 – Reggie White is born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He will
become an all-pro defensive lineman for the NFL
Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers. He will play
with Green Bay as they win the 1997 Super Bowl. He will
hold the NFL record of 198 sacks until it is broken by
Bruce Smith of the Washington Redskins in 2003. He will
retire from football at the end of the 1998-1999 season.
He will join the ancestors on December 26, 2004, after
succumbing to a cardiac arrhythmia caused by cardiac and
1962 – Nyasaland secedes from Rhodesia.
1977 – Jimmy Rogers, a bluesman who played guitar for the original
Muddy Waters band and who will be inducted into the Blues
Hall of Fame in 1994, joins the ancestors in Chicago at the
age of 73. He succumbs to colon cancer. He recorded a
string of solo hits beginning in the 1950s, including
“Walking by Myself,” “Chicago Bound” and “Sloppy Drunk.”
He played with Water’s Band in Chicago clubs and in the
studio for about a decade. In 1996, he won the W.C. Handy
award for male traditional blues artist.
1989 – Police in Jacksonville, Florida, disarm a parcel bomb at the
local NAACP office, the fourth in a series of mail bombs to
turn up in the Deep South. One bomb kills a Savannah,
Georgia, alderman, and another a federal judge in Alabama.
Walter L. Moody Jr. will be convicted in both bombings.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.