* Today in Black History – March 12 *
1791 – Benjamin Banneker and Pierre Charles L’Enfant are commissioned
to plan and develop Washington, DC.
1868 – Great Britain gives Basutoland, the status of protectorate at
the request of King Moshweshwe. The request of protection was
to prevent attacks by the Cape Colony.
1877 – The British annex Walvis Bay, an important deep water port in
South West Africa.
1888 – Hall Johnson is born in Athens, Georgia. As a boy, he will teach
himself to play the violin after hearing a violin recital given
by Joseph Henry Douglass, grandson of Frederick Douglass. He
will go on to play the violin and viola professionally,
including in the orchestra for the 1921 musical, “Shuffle Along.”
In 1925, he will organize and direct the Hall Johnson Choir as
well as have significant success as an arranger. One of his
early stage successes will be as choral director for the 1930
Broadway play “The Green Pastures” and the 1933 play, “Run
Little Chillun,” for which he will write the book and music. He
and his choir will move to Hollywood in 1936 to make the film
version of “The Green Pastures.” He will become fluent in both
German and French. Among the singers he coaches will be Marian
Anderson, Robert McFerrin and Shirley Verrett. His arrangements
of the spirituals have been recorded by some of the world’s
finest artists. He will join the ancestors after succumbing
during a fire at his New York apartment, on April 30, 1970. In
1975, he will be posthumously honored for his work in films by
being elected to the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.
1926 – The Savoy Ballroom, nicknamed the “Home of Happy Feet,” opens
in New York City.
1932 – Andrew Young is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will become
a minister, influential leader in the civil rights movement,
first African American ambassador to the United Nations, and
mayor of Atlanta, Georgia.
1934 – Virginia Hamilton is born in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She will
become an award-winning author of juvenile fiction including
“House of Dies Drear” and “Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush.” She
will write 41 books, including “M. C. Higgins, the Great” (1974),
for which she will win the U.S. National Book Award in the
Children’s Books category and the Newbery Medal in 1975. For
lifetime achievement she will win the international Hans
Christian Andersen Award for writing children’s literature in
1992 and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her contributions to
American children’s literature in 1995. She will join the
ancestors on February 19, 2002.
1940 – Alwyn Lopez “Al” Jarreau is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He
will become a singer and will be known for his recording of
the theme for the television show, “Moonlighting”. Al Jarreau
will become the first vocalist in musical history to win
Grammy Awards in three different categories (Rhythm & Blues,
Jazz, and Pop).
1945 – New York becomes the first state to prohibit discrimination by
race and creed in employment.
1955 – Charlie Parker joins the ancestors in New York City at the age
of 34. He had been one of the founders of the modern jazz
1962 – Darryl Strawberry is born in Los Angeles, California. He will
become a professional baseball player and will play right field
for the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San
Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees. He will set the
New York Mets all-time records for most runs (662), most RBIs
(733) and most home runs (252). He will be a member of the
winning World Series championship teams in 1986 and 1996.
1964 – Malcolm X resigns from the Nation of Islam.
1982 – Charles Fuller wins the Pulitzer Prize for “A Soldier’s Play.”
2003 – Lynne Thigpen, actress, joins the ancestors at age 54 after
succumbing to complications from an enlarged heart. She played
“the chief” on “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.