* Today in Black History – January 23 *
1837 – Amanda Berry Smith is born into slavery in Long Green,
Maryland. She will be widowed twice, after which she will
attempt to minister to her people. Unable to preach in the
AME Church, which did not ordain women ministers, Smith
will become an independent missionary and travel throughout
the United States and three continents. She will publish
her autobiography, “Amanda Smith’s Story – The Story of the
Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, The Colored
Evangelist,” in 1893. She will join the ancestors on
February 24, 1915.
1891 – Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, the first African
American hospital, is founded by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams.
He also establishes the Provident Hospital School of Nursing
around the same time, because Emma Reynolds, an African
American, had been denied admission to every school of
nursing in the city of Chicago.
1941 – Richard Wright is awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for his
book, “Native Son.”
1943 – Duke Ellington’s band plays for a black-tie crowd at Carnegie
Hall in New York City. It is the first of what will become
an annual series of concerts for ‘The Duke’.
1945 – The Army Nurse Corps discontinues its color barrier and
starts admitting nurses without regard to race. This is due
primarily to the pressure applied by the National
Association of Colored Nursing Graduates (NACGN) and other
1962 – Demonstrations against discrimination in off-campus housing
are staged by students at the University of Chicago for
fourteen days. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
charges that the university operates segregated apartment
1964 – The 24th amendment to the United States’ Constitution,
abolishing the poll tax in federal elections, is ratified.
The poll tax had been used extensively in the South as a
means of preventing African Americans from voting.
1976 – Paul Robeson joins the ancestors, as the result of a stroke,
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had been a world-renown
actor and singer. He was perhaps the best known and most
widely respected African American of the 1930s and 1940s.
Robeson was also a staunch supporter of the Soviet Union,
and a man, later in his life, widely vilified and censored
for his frankness and unyielding views on issues to which
public opinion ran contrary. As a young man, Robeson was
virile, charismatic, eloquent, and powerful. He learned to
speak more than 20 languages in order to break down the
barriers of race and ignorance throughout the world, and
yet, as Sterling Stuckey pointed out in the “New York Times
Book Review,” for the last 25 years of his life, his was “a
great whisper and a greater silence in Black America.”
1977 – The first episode of “Roots,” adapted from the “New York
Times” bestseller by Alex Haley, is aired on ABC. Over the
next several nights, 130 million Americans will be
transfixed before their televisions as the story of Kunta
Kinte is told.
1985 – O.J. Simpson becomes the first Heisman Trophy winner to be
inducted into pro football’s Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys, another Heisman
winner, is also elected, but is after O.J. in the sequence
1986 – The first annual induction ceremony for the Rock ‘N’ Roll
Hall of Fame is held in New York City. Among those inducted
were Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, and Fats Domino.
1989 – In “City of Richmond vs. J.A. Croson Co.,” the United States
Supreme Court invalidates the city’s minority set-aside
program, a major setback for the concept’s proponents.
2003 – Nell Carter, Tony Award winner and television star, joins the
ancestors at the age of 54. She had suffered from diabetes
for years and underwent brain surgery in 1992 to remove an
aneurysm. She recovered and continued to perform, mostly on
2015 – Ernie Banks, an American professional baseball player nicknamed “Mr. Cub” and “Mr. Sunshine”, joins the ancestors at the age of 83. He died of a heart attack at a Chicago hospital on January 23, 2015, shortly before his 84th birthday.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.