* Today in Black History – January 17 *
1759 – Paul Cuffee is born in Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts. He will
become a successful shipowner, philanthropist, and a force
in the movement for African Americans’ repatriation to
Africa. He was of Aquinnah Wampanoag and African Ashanti
descent and helps to colonize Sierra Leone. He will build a
lucrative shipping empire and establish the first racially
integrated school in Westport, Massachusetts. He will join
the ancestors on September 9, 1817.
1874 – Armed white Democrats seize the Texas government and put an
end to Radical Reconstruction in Texas.
1917 – The United States pays $ 25 million for the Danish Virgin
1923 – The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is awarded to George Washington
Carver, head of the department of research, Tuskegee
Institute, for his pioneering work in agricultural
1923 – The first session of the Third Pan-African Congress convenes
in London, England. The second session will be held in
1924 – Jewel Plummer Cobb is born in Chicago, Illinois. She will
be a prominent cancer research biologist before becoming a
professor and administrator at Connecticut College and
Rutgers University and, in 1990, president of California
State University, Fullerton, the first African American
woman to hold such a position in the CSU system.
1927 – Eartha Mae Keith is born in North, South Carolina. She will
start her career at the age of 16 as a professional dancer
with the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe, which will take her
to Paris, where she will tour as a nightclub singer. She
will become known as Eartha Kitt. She will eventually
return to the United States and roles on Broadway and in
films. In 1968, her career will take a sudden turn when, at
a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson, she will
speak out against the Vietnam War. For many years
afterward, she will be blacklisted by many in the U.S.
entertainment industry and be forced to work abroad where
her status will remain undiminished. In 2007, She will
celebrate her 80th birthday. This remarkable milestone will
be celebrated with a special performance at New York’s
Carnegie Hall in June. She will join the ancestors on December
1931 – James Earl Jones is born in Arkabutla, Mississippi. He will
become renowned as an actor, both on the stage and the
screen, earning a Tony award in 1969 for his portrayal of
boxing great Jack Johnson in the “The Great White Hope” as
well as acclaim for his Broadway roles in “A Lesson From
Aloes,” “Fences,” and many others. Among his film and
television credits will be the voice of Darth Vader in
“Star Wars” and leading roles in “Paris” and “Gabriel’s
1931 – Lawrence Douglas Wilder is born in Richmond, Virginia. He
will graduate from Virginia Union University and serve in
the U.S. Army in Korea, where he will receive the Bronze
Star for heroism. He will attend and graduate from, the
Howard University School of Law and become a successful
trial attorney. In 1969, he will be elected as Virginia’s
first African American state senator since Reconstruction.
In 1985, he will become Virginia’s first African American
Lieutenant Governor. He will make history for a third time
on January 13, 1990, when he takes office as the first
elected African American governor in U.S. history.
1942 – Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. is born in Louisville, Kentucky.
Early in his boxing career, Clay converts to Islam. As
Muhammad Ali, he is one of the first African American
athletes to intermingle political and social consciousness
with sports. He will become the dominant heavyweight boxer
of the 1960s and 1970s, winning an Olympic gold medal,
capturing the professional world heavyweight championship
on three separate occasions, and defend his title
successfully 19 times. Ali’s extroverted, colorful style,
both in and out of the ring, will introduce a new mode of
media-conscious athletic celebrity. Through his strong
assertions of Black pride, his conversion to the Muslim
faith, and his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War, Ali
will become a highly controversial symbol of the turbulent
1961 – Patrice Lumumba, African revolutionary and first Congolese
Premier of the Republic of Congo, joins the ancestors after
being murdered at the age of 36, by the secessionist
1966 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. opens his civil rights campaign
in Chicago, Illinois. This marks the first time, during the
civil rights movement, that the campaign takes place in a
1970 – John M. Burgess is installed as bishop of the Protestant
Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts.
1978 – Dr. Ronald McNair is named by NASA as a participant on a
1989 – The Phoenix Suns/Miami Heat game is cancelled, due to racial
unrest in Miami.
1990 – The Four Tops, Hank Ballard, and The Platters are inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
1996 – Former U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan joins the ancestors
in Austin, Texas, at the age of 59.
1998 – Louis Stokes, the first African American congressman from the
state of Ohio, announces his retirement from Congress at the
age of 73. He has been a congressman for three decades.
2000 – Nearly 50,000 people march to South Carolina’s Statehouse on
Martin Luther King Day to demand the Confederate battle flag
be taken down. They are protesting the Confederate flag as a
symbol of slavery and racism.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.