* Today in Black History – February 16 *

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1801 – The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church officially
separates from its parent, the Methodist Episcopal Church.
The Zion church will be incorporated as the African Episcopal
Church of the City of New York. James Varick will be its first
pastor and will later become the first black African Methodist
Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) bishop. It will hold its first national
conference in 1821. The name Zion will not be added to the
church’s name until 1848.

1874 – Frederick Douglass is elected President of Freedman’s Bank and
Trust Company.

1923 – Bessie Smith makes her first recording for Columbia Records.
The record, “Down Hearted Blues,” written by Alberta Hunter
and Lovie Austin, will sell an incredible 800,000 copies and
be Columbia’s first popular hit.

1944 – The U.S. Navy starts its first officer training class of
African Americans at Camp Robert Smalls, Great Lakes, Illinois.
In March, 1944,

1951 – James Ingram is born in Akron, Ohio. He will be raised there
on Kelly Avenue. He will later become a rhythm and blues
singer and will earn at least three Grammy Awards and
seventeen Grammy nominations.

1951 – The New York City Council passes a bill prohibiting racial
discrimination in city-assisted housing developments.

1957 – LeVar Burton is born in Landstuhl, Germany. He will become an
actor, winning a landmark role in the award-winning mini-
series, “Roots,” as the enslaved African youth Kunta Kinte,
while attending USC. He will go on to become a producer,
director and writer for numerous television series and films.

1970 – Joe Frazier knocks outs Jimmy Ellis in the second round to
become the undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion.

1972 – Wilt Chamberlain scores his 30,000th point in his 940th game,
a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the
Phoenix Suns. He is the first player in the NBA to score
30,000 points.

1992 – The Los Angeles Lakers retire Magic Johnson’s uniform, # 32.

1999 – Mary Elizabeth Roche, best known as Betty Roche, joins the
ancestors at the age of 81 in Pleasantville, New Jersey. She
was a singer who performed with Duke Ellington in the 1940s
and 1950s. She sang with the Savoy Sultans from 1941 to
1943, when she joined Ellington’s group. She scored high
marks from critics for the suite “Black, Brown and Beige,” at
Ellington’s first Carnegie Hall concert. She also performed
Ellington’s signature song “Take the A Train” in the 1943
film. “Reveille With Beverly.”

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

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