* Today in Black History – December 23 *
1815 – Henry Highland Garnet is born in New Market, Maryland.
He will become a noted clergyman and abolitionist. He
will also be the first African American to deliver a
sermon before the House of Representatives.
1863 – Robert Blake, powder boy aboard the USS Marblehead, is
the first African American to be awarded the Naval Medal
of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary
heroism, and intrepidity at the risk of his own life.”
The heroic action occurred during a victorious battle
off the coast of South Carolina.
1867 – Sarah Breedlove is born in Delta, Louisiana. She will
be better known as Madame C.J. Walker, the first female
African American millionaire whose hair-care, toiletry,
and cosmetics products revolutionized the standard of
beauty for African American women. Her philanthropy and
generosity will make her a popular figure in the early
1919 – Alice H. Parker patents the gas heating furnace.
1935 – Esther Mae Jones is born in Galveston, Texas. She will
begin her career as a blues singer at 13 as “Little”
Esther Phillips, taking her name from a billboard for a
gasoline company. Problems with drugs and alcohol will
cause her to interrupt her career a number of times.
She will record several memorable songs including “And
I Love Him” and “Release Me.”
1946 – The University of Tennessee refuses to play Duquesne
University, because they may use an African American
player in their basketball game.
1990 – Wendell Scott joins the ancestors in Danville, Virginia.
He was a prominent African American in early stock car
racing, finishing among the top five drivers in 20 Grand
National events and winning 128 races in the sportsman
division. His story will be told in the movie “Greased
Lightning,” that starred Richard Pryor as Scott.
1999 – President Clinton pardons Freddie Meeks, an African
American sailor court-martialed for mutiny during World
War II when he and other sailors refused to load live
ammunition following a deadly explosion at the Port
Chicago Naval Magazine near San Francisco that had
claimed more than 300 lives.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.