January 20 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – January 20 *

1788 – The First African Baptist Church is organized in Savannah,
Georgia, with Andrew Bryan ordained as its pastor. It is
the first African American Baptist church in the United
States, as well as the first Baptist church, Black or white,
in Savannah.

1847 – William Reuben (W.R.) Pettiford is born in Granville County,
North Carolina. He will become the pastor of the Sixteenth
Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. As a leader
in the community, he will also become a businessman,
founding the Alabama Penny Savings Bank on October 15, 1890.
The Alabama Penny Savings Bank will be Alabama’s first
African American-owned bank and the first of three banks in
the nation, owned and operated by African Americans in the
early 1900s. He will join the ancestors on September 21,
1914. (Note: The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is also
known for the bombing during the Civil Rights movement,
on September 15, 1963, that killed four little girls.)

1868 – The Florida constitutional convention with eighteen African
Americans and twenty-seven whites meet in Tallahassee.

1870 – Hiram R. Revels is chosen by the Mississippi legislature to
fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat of Confederate president
Jefferson Davis. Although he will be challenged by the
Senate, Revels will take his seat one month later, becoming
the first African American U.S. Senator.

1895 – Eva Jessye is born in Coffeyville, Kansas. She will become
an influential choral director, working in King Vidor’s
“Hallelujah” and the original production of George
Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” She will join the ancestors on
February 21, 1992.

1954 – The National Negro Network is formed by W. Leonard Evans.
Some 40 radio stations are charter members of the network.

1973 – Guinea-Bissau nationalist leader Amilcar Cabral joins the
ancestors after being assassinated in Conakry, Guinea, by
Portuguese agents. He had founded the PAIGC (African Party
for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde), the
organization that fought Portuguese colonial rule and
eventually led to the independence of Guinea-Bissau and
Cape Verde. Cabral is considered one of Africa’s most
important independentist leaders.

1977 – Clifford Alexander, Jr. is sworn in as the first African
American Secretary of the Army.

1986 – The inaugural issue of “American Visions” magazine hits the
newsstands nationwide. The magazine is dedicated to
exposing its readers to African American contributions to
history, literature, music, and the arts.

1986 – The United States observes the first federal holiday in
honor of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King,

2012 – Etta James, whose assertive, earthy voice lit up such hits
as “The Wallflower,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” and the
wedding favorite “At Last,” joins the ancestors at the age
of 73.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.


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