* Today in Black History – January 4 *
1787 – Prince Hall, founder of the first African American Masonic
lodge, and others petition the Massachusetts legislature for
funds to return to Africa. The plan is the first recorded
effort by African Americans to return to their homeland.
1832 – A major insurrection of slaves on Trinidad occurs.
1901 – Cyril Lionel Richard James is born in Tunapuna, Trinidad. He
will become a writer, historian, Marxist social critic, and
activist who deeply influenced the intellectual underpinnings
of West Indian and African movements for independence. He was
born into an educated family in colonial Trinidad. At the age
of nine He earned a scholarship to Queen’s Royal College, in
Port of Spain, Trinidad, and graduated in 1918. In 1932 James
left Trinidad for England. He will become involved in socialist
politics, gravitating toward a faction of anti-Stalinist
Marxists. He applied Leon Trotsky’s views about a worldwide
workers’ revolution to his colonial home. The result, in part,
was “The Life of Captain Cipriani: An Account of British
Government in the West Indies” (1932), in which he called for
Caribbean independence. For a time in the 1970s he taught at
Federal City College in Washington, D.C. He lived the last
years of his life in London. Three volumes of his collected
works appeared as “The Future in the Present” (1977), “Spheres
of Existence” (1980), and “At the Rendezvous of Victory”
(1984). He will join the ancestors on May 31, 1989 in London,
1920 – Andrew “Rube” Foster organizes the Negro National Baseball
1935 – Floyd Patterson is born in Waco, North Carolina. He will become
a boxer, winning a gold medal in the 1952 Summer Olympic Games
in the middleweight class. He will become the first gold
medalist to win a world professional title. He will join the
ancestors on May 11, 2006.
1937 – Grace Ann Bumbry is born in St. Louis, Missouri. She will grow
up at 1703 Goode Avenue in the city. She will join the Union
Memorial Methodist Church’s choir at eleven, and sing at Sumner
High School. She will be a 1954 winner on the “Arthur Godfrey
Talent Scouts” show. After her concert debut in London in 1959,
Bumbry debuts with the Paris Opera the next year. In 1961,
Richard Wagner’s grandson features her in Bayreuth, Germany’s
Wagner Festival. The first person of African descent to sing
there, Bumbry will be an international sensation and win the
Wagner Medal. A mezzo-soprano who also successfully sang the
soprano repertoire, Grace Bumbry will record on four labels and
sing in concerts world wide. Her honors will include induction
into the St. Louis Walk of Fame, the UNESCO Award, the
Distinguished Alumna Award from the Academy of Music of the
West, Italy’s Premio Giuseppe Verdi, and being named Commandeur
des Arts et Lettres by the French government.
1944 – Dr. Ralph J. Bunche is appointed the first African American
official in the U.S. State Department.
1971 – Dr. Melvin H. Evans is inaugurated as the first elected governor
of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
1985 – Congressman William H. Gray is elected chairman of the House
Budget Committee, the highest congressional post, to date, held
by an African American.
1986 – David Robinson blocks a N.C.A.A. record 14 shots while playing
for the U.S. Naval Academy.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.