* Today in Black History – January 5 *
1804 – Ohio begins the restriction of the rights and movements of
free African Americans by passing the first of several
“Black laws.” It is a trend that will be followed by most
1869 – Matilda Sissieretta Jones is born in Portsmouth, Virginia.
She will become a gifted singer (soprano), who will rise
to fame as a soloist and troupe leader during the later
part of the nineteenth century. She will be nicknamed
“Black Patti”, after a newspaper review mentioned her as
an African American equal to the acclaimed Italian soprano
Adelina Patti. American racism will prevent her from
performing with established white operatic groups. She will
tour Europe, South and North America and the West Indies as
a soloist. In 1896, she will form her own troupe, “Black
Patti’s Troubadours,” which will combine the elements of
opera and vaudeville, creating musical comedy. She will
join the ancestors on June 24, 1933.
1911 – Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity is founded on the campus of
Indiana University by Elder Watson Diggs, Byron Kenneth
Armstrong, and eight others. It will be the first African
American fraternity to be chartered as a national
1929 – Wilbert Harrison is born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He
will become a singer and will be best known for his
recordings “Kansas City,” and “Let’s Work Together.” In
2001, his recording of “Kansas City” will be given a Grammy
Hall of Fame Award. He will join the ancestors in Spencer,
North Carolina on October 26, 1994.
1931 – Alvin Ailey is born in Rogers, Texas and will move to Los
Angeles, California at the age of twelve. There, on a
junior high school class trip to the Ballet Russe de Monte
Carlo, he will fall in love with concert dance. In 1958, Mr.
Ailey will found his own company, the Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theater, which makes its debut in New York. Mr. Ailey
will have a vision of creating a company dedicated to the
preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance
heritage and the uniqueness of Black cultural expression.
In 1969, Alvin Ailey will found the Alvin Ailey American
Dance Center, the official school of the Ailey Company, and
he will go on to form the Repertory Ensemble, the second
company, in 1974. His commitment to education is the
foundation of the organization’s long-standing involvement
in arts-in-education programs, including AileyCamp. He will
join the ancestors on December 1, 1989 in New York City.
1938 – James Ngugi is born in Kamiriithu, Kenya. He will become a
writer whose works will depict events in colonial and post
colonial Kenya. He will integrate Marxist-Leninist beliefs
into his novels, which will include “Weep Not Child,” “The
River Between,” “A Grain of Wheat,” “Petals of Blood,” and
“Matigari ma Mjiruumgi.” He will later change his name to
Ngugi wa Thiong’o. His writings will cause him to be
imprisoned by the Kenyan government and he will later leave
the country for England and the United States.
1943 – George Washington Carver joins the ancestors after succumbing
to anemia at the age of 81. He was a pioneering plant
chemist and agricultural researcher noted for his work with
the peanut and soil restoration while at Tuskegee Institute.
1943 – William H. Hastie, civilian aide to the secretary of war,
resigns to protest segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces.
1947 – Ted Lange is born in Oakland, California. He will become an
actor and be best known for his role as ‘Isaac’ on the TV
series, “The Love Boat.”
1948 – A commemorative stamp of George Washington Carver is issued
by the U.S. Postal Service. The posthumous honor bestowed
upon the famed agricultural expert and researcher is only
one of the many awards he received, including the 1923
Spingarn Medal and membership in the NYU Hall of Fame.
1957 – Jackie Robinson announces his retirement from professional
1971 – The Harlem Globetrotters lose 100-99 to the New Jersey Reds,
ending their 2,495-game win streak.
1975 – The Broadway premiere of “The Wiz” opens, receiving
enthusiastic reviews. The show, a Black version of “The
Wizard of Oz” will run for 1,672 shows at the Majestic
Theatre. Moviegoers, however, gave a thumbs down to the
cinema version of the play that starred Diana Ross and
Michael Jackson years later. One memorable song from the
show is “Ease on Down the Road.”
1987 – David Robinson becomes the first player in Naval Academy
history to score more than 2,000 points. This was
accomplished when the Midshipmen defeat East Carolina
91-66. He will go on to become a major star of the NBA.
1993 – Reggie Jackson is inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame with
94% of the votes.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.