December 20 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – December 20 *

1854 – Walter F. Craig is born in Princeton, New Jersey. He will
obtain his music education in Cleveland, Ohio under
Hermon Troste, Edward Mollenhauer and Carl Christian
Muller. He will become an excellent violin soloist and
accomplished conductor and composer. He will become the
organizer of Craig’s Celebrated Orchestra, and the first
African American to be admitted to the New York Musician’s
Mutual Protective Union. The Cleveland Gazette will refer
to him as “The Leading Colored Violinist in the East.”
He will live primarily in New York City and will perform
in Carnegie Hall between 1892 and 1900. He will join the
ancestors in 1920.

1870 – Robert H. Wood, Mississippi political leader, is elected
mayor of Natchez.

1870 – Allen University, Benedict College and LeMoyne-Owen
College are established.

1870 – Jefferson F. Long of Macon, Georgia, is elected to an
unexpired term in the Forty-first Congress. Georgia
Democrats carry the state election with a campaign of
violence and political intimidation.

1893 – Paul Lawrence Dunbar publishes “Oak and Ivy.” Unable to
afford the $125 publishing costs, he accepts a loan from
a white friend. The loan will be quickly repaid through
book sales, often to passengers in the elevator of the
Dayton, Ohio, building where he works.

1893 – The first state anti-lynching statute is approved in

1942 – Robert Lee “Bullet Bob” Hayes is born in Jacksonville,
Florida. He will be a two-sport stand-out in college in
both track and football at Florida A&M University. He
will become a world class sprinter for the United States,
winning the Gold Medal in the 100 meter dash in the 1964
Olympic games. He will have one of the top 100 meter times
by NFL players. He will be enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys
Ring of Honor in 2001 and selected for induction in the
Pro Football Hall of Fame in January 2009. He will be
officially inducted in Canton, Ohio on August 8, 2009. He
will be the second Olympic gold medalist to be inducted to
Pro Football Hall of Fame, after Jim Thorpe. He will be
considered the world’s fastest man by virtue of his
multiple world records in the 60-yard, 100-yard, 220-yard,
and Olympic 100-meter dashes, He will be the first man to
win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring. He
will join the ancestors in Jacksonville, Florida on
September 18, 2002, after succumbing to renal failure,
after battling prostate cancer and liver ailments.

1956 – The African American community of Montgomery, Alabama votes
unanimously to end its 385 day bus-boycott. Montgomery,
Alabama, removes race-based seat assignments on its city’s

1981 – “Dreamgirls” opens on Broadway at the Imperial Theater.
The musical, which chronicles the rise of a black female
group in the 1960’s, star Jennifer Holliday, Ben Harney,
and Cleavant Derricks. Holliday, Derricks and
choreographer Michael Peters will earn Tony awards for
their work in the musical.

1988 – Max Robinson, the first African American network (ABC) TV
anchor, joins the ancestors after succumbing to
complications of AIDS at the age of 49.

1998 – Nigerian American Nkem Chukwu gives birth in Houston, Texas
to five girls and two boys, 12 days after giving birth to
another child, a girl. The tiniest of the babies will
succumb a week later.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.


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