March 31 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – March 31 *

1850 – The Massachusetts Supreme Court rejects the argument of
Charles Sumner in the Boston school integration suit and
established the “separate but equal” precedent.

1853 – At concert singer Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield’s New York
debut in Metropolitan Hall, African Americans are not
allowed to attend. Angered and embarrassed at the exclusion
of her race, Greenfield will perform in a separate concert
at the Broadway Tabernacle for five African American

1871 – John Arthur “Jack” Johnson is born in Galveston, Texas. He
will become a professional boxer and will become the first
African American to be crowned world heavyweight boxing
champion. His championship reign will last from 1908 to 1915.
He will join the ancestors on June 10, 1946 after succumbing
to injuries from an automobile accident. He will be inducted
into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954, and is on the roster of
both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World
Boxing Hall of Fame. In 2005, the United States National Film
Preservation Board deemed the film of the 1910 Johnson-
Jeffries fight “historically significant” and will place it
in the National Film Registry.

1930 – President Hoover nominates Judge John J. Parker of North
Carolina for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The NAACP
launches a national campaign against the appointment. Parker
is not confirmed by the Senate.

1948 – A. Phillip Randolph tells the Senate Armed Services Committee
that unless segregation and discrimination were banned in
draft programs he would urge African American youths to
resist induction by civil disobedience.

1949 – William Grant Still’s opera, “Troubled Island” receives its
world premiere at the New York City Opera. In addition to
marking Robert McFerrin’s debut as the first African American
male to sing with the company, the opera is the first ever
written by an African American to be produced by a major
opera company.

1967 – Jimi Hendrix begins the tradition of burning his guitar in
London, England.

1968 – The provisional government of the Republic of New Africa is
founded in Detroit, Michigan.

1973 – Ken Norton defeats Muhammad Ali in a 12 round split decision
in San Diego, California. Norton will break Ali’s jaw
during the bout.

1980 – Jesse Owens joins the ancestors in Tucson, Arizona at the age
of 66, and President Jimmy Carter adds his voice to the
tributes that pour in from around the world. Jesse won four
gold medals in track at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

1980 – Larry Holmes wins the vacant world heavyweight title by
knocking out Leroy Jones in the eighth round.

1988 – Toni Morrison wins the Pulitzer Prize for “Beloved,” a
powerful novel of a runaway slave who murders her daughter
rather than see her raised in slavery.

1995 – President Bill Clinton briefly visits Haiti, where he
declares the U.S. mission to restore democracy there a
“remarkable success.”

1999 – Four New York City police officers are charged with murder
for killing Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant, in
a hail of bullets. They shot at him 41 times, hitting him
with 19 shots. The officers will later be acquitted of all
charges, even involuntary manslaughter.

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


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