* Today in Black History – January 16 *
1776 – The Continental Congress approves General George Washington’s
order on the enlistment of free African Americans.
1865 – General William T. Sherman issues his Field Order No. 15,
setting aside “the islands from Charleston, south, the
abandoned rice fields along the river for thirty miles back
from the sea, and the country bordering the St. John’s River,
Florida,” for exclusive settlement by African Americans. The
order provides that “each family should have a plot of not
more than forty (40) acres of tillable ground…in the
possession of which land the military authorities will afford
them protection until such time as they can protect
themselves….” General Rufus Saxton, South Carolina
Freedmen’s Bureau director, will later settle some 40,000
African Americans on forty-acre tracts in the area. In
South Carolina and other states, African American settlers
will be given possessory titles pending final action on the
confiscated and abandoned lands of Confederate rebels. Many
will never see their land, because President Johnson will
reverse the policy implemented by the Freedmen’s Bureau.
1871 – Jefferson F. Long, of Georgia, is sworn in as the second
African American congressman.
1901 – Hiram Revels joins the ancestors in Aberdeen, Mississippi, at
the age of 73. He held the distinction of being the first
African American elected to serve in the U.S. Senate.
1938 – Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson become the first African
Americans to perform at Carnegie Hall, in New York City.
Benny Goodman leads a historic jazz concert, later considered
to be one of the first “serious” jazz concerts. Goodman
refuses to perform without the two African American members
of his band. Carnegie Hall officials will relent and the
integrated band performs to critical praise with Hampton on
vibraphone and Wilson on piano.
1941 – The War Department announces formation of the first Army Air
Corps squadron for African American cadets. The 99th Pursuit
Squadron is formed and the Tuskegee Training Program is
established. The 99th will fly more than 500 missions and
more than 3,700 sorties during one year of combat before
being combined with the 332nd Fighter Group.
1941 – Dr. Charles Richard Drew sets up and runs the pioneer blood
plasma bank in Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. This
bank will serve as one of the models for the system of banks
operated later by the American Red Cross.
1962 – A suit accusing the New York City Board of Education of using
“racial quotas” is filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of
African American and Puerto Rican children.
1966 – Harold R. Perry becomes the second African American Roman
Catholic bishop in U.S. history.
1967 – Lucius D. Amerson, a former army paratrooper, becomes the first
African American sheriff in the South since Reconstruction,
when he is sworn in at Tuskegee (Macon County), Alabama.
1967 – The first Black government is installed in the Commonwealth of
1974 – Heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, is named the
Associated Press “Athlete of the Year.”
1978 – NASA names Major Frederick D. Gregory, Major Guion Bluford,
and Dr. Ronald McNair to its astronaut program.
1988 – Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, a self-styled oddsmaker and expert
on sports, is fired as a CBS Sports commentator after making
controversial remarks about athletes of African descent.
1989 – Racially motivated disturbances erupt in Miami, Florida after
a police officer fatally shoots an African American
motorcyclist, causing a crash that kills a passenger.
2012 – Today marks the first King holiday where visitors can celebrate
the legacy of the civil rights leader at the Martin Luther King,
Jr. Memorial, since it was dedicated in the fall of 2011. The
National Park Service will lay a wreath at the site and offer
educational programs throughout the day.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.