* Today in Black History – January 12 *
1879 – British troops invade Zululand from Natal, confident that they
could crush the Zulu forces armed with spears and shields.
However, the well-trained Zulu army repulses the initial
attack, killing over 1300 British troops in the Battle of
Isandlwana. But that success will exhaust the Zulu army, and
before Cetshwayo could mount a counteroffensive into Natal,
British troops from around the Empire will be rushed to
southern Africa, where their advanced weaponry will bring them
ultimate victory in the six-month Anglo-Zulu war. The British
will conclude their aggressive venture by dividing up Zululand
among thirteen pro-British chiefs, effectively destroying the
1890 – Mordecai Wyatt Johnson is born in Paris, Tennessee. He will
become the first African American president of Howard
University in 1926, a position he will hold for 34 years. He
will also be a recipient of the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal in 1929.
He will retire in 1960, and will join the ancestors on
September 11, 1976 in Washington, DC.
1920 – James Farmer is born in Marshall, Texas. He will become an
African American civil rights leader and activist. He will
found the Committee on Racial Equality in 1942 and later
change the name of the organization to the Congress of Racial
Equality. Farmer and CORE will be the architects of the
“Freedom Rides” that will lead to the desegregation of over
100 bus terminals in the South. He will become a major player
during the Civil Rights movement. He will be awarded the
Congressional Medal of Freedom in 1998 by President Bill
Clinton. He will join the ancestors on July 9, 1999 in
Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the age of 79.
1944 – Joseph William “Joe” Frazier is born in Beaufort, South
Carolina. He will become a boxer and will win the Olympic Gold
Medal in 1964 in Tokyo, Japan. He will go on to win the
heavyweight title on February 16, 1970, after knocking out
Jimmy Ellis in five rounds. He will remain champion until
January 22, 1973, when he is knocked out in the second round
by George Foreman. He will be inducted into the Ring’s Boxing
Hall of Fame in 1980 and into the International Boxing Hall of
Fame in 1990. He will join the ancestors on November 7, 2011.
1946 – George Duke is born in San Rafael, California, and will be
reared in Marin City, a working class section of Marin County.
He will become a major recording artist, heavily influenced by
Miles Davis and the soul-jazz sound of Les McCann and Cal
Tjader. He and a young singer named Al Jarreau will form a
group becoming the house band at San Francisco’s Half Note
Club. Over the years, George will work with Sonny Rollins,
Dexter Gordon, Frank Zappa, Cannonball Adderley, Nancy Wilson,
Joe Williams, and Dizzy Gillespie. He will be a prolific
songwriter and producer.
1948 – The United States Supreme Court decision (Sipuel v. Oklahoma
State Board of Regents) said a state must afford African
Americans “an opportunity to commence the study of law at a
state institution at the same time as [other] citizens.”
1951 – Ezzard Charles knocks out Lee Oma to retain the heavyweight
1952 – The University of Tennessee admits its first African American
1959 – Berry Gordy borrows $800 from a family loan fund to form Motown
Records. The record company’s first releases will appear on
the Tamla label.
1960 – Jacques Dominique Wilkins is born in Paris, France. He will
become a NBA forward and play the majority of his career for
the Atlanta Hawks. He will be a nine-time NBA All-Star and the
winner of two NBA Slam Dunk Contests, register 26,668 points
(one of only 12 players to do so) and 7,169 rebounds in his
NBA career. He will not foul out during his final 957 games,
the third longest such streak (behind Moses Malone and Wilt
Chamberlain). He will be inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall
of Fame on April 3, 2004 and into the Naismith Memorial
Basketball Hall of Fame on April 3, 2006.
1964 – Leftist rebels in Zanzibar begin their successful revolt against
1965 – Noted playwright Lorraine Hansberry joins the ancestors, after
succumbing to cancer in New York City at the age of 34, while
her second play, “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” is
playing on Broadway. Her first and most famous work, “A
Raisin in the Sun,” brought her wide acclaim on Broadway,
earned her the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best
play, and became a motion picture starring Sidney Poitier,
Ruby Dee, and Claudia McNeil.
1971 – The Congressional Black Caucus is organized.
1982 – A commemorative stamp of Ralph Bunche is issued by the U.S.
Postal Service as part of its Great Americans series.
1988 – Willie Stargell, formally of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is elected
to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1990 – Civil Rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton is stabbed in Brooklyn,
New York, in Bensonhurst.
1995 – In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, an American soldier is killed and
another wounded during a shootout with a former Haitian army
officer who also was killed.
1995 – Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, is arrested in
Minneapolis, Minnesota on charges that she had tried to hire
a hit man to kill Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The
charges will later be dropped.
2002 – Jerry Rice, playing for the Oakland Raiders, becomes the oldest
player in the NFL to date, to score in a playoff game.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.