* Today in Black History – April 5 *
1839 – Robert Smalls is born into slavery in Beaufort, South
Carolina. He will become a Civil War hero by sailing an
armed Confederate steamer out of Charleston Harbor and
presenting it to the Union Navy. He will later become a
three-term congressman from his state. He will join the
ancestors on February 23, 1915.
1856 – Booker Taliaferro Washington is born a slave near Hale’s
Ford, Virginia. He will become a world reknown educator,
founder of Tuskegee Institute. He will become one of the
most famous African American educators and leaders of the
19th century. His message of acquiring practical skills and
emphasizing self-help over political rights will be popular
among whites and segments of the African American community.
His 1901 autobiography, “Up From Slavery”, which details his
rise to success despite numerous obstacles, will become a
best-seller and further enhances his public image as a
self-made man. As popular as he will be in some circles,
Washington will be aggressively opposed by critics such as
W.E.B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter. He will join the
ancestors on November 14, 1915. He will become the first
African American to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp.
1879 – Charles W. Follis is born in Cloverdale, Virginia. He is the
first African American to play professional football. He
will play halfback for the Blues of Shelby, Ohio in 1904.
The Blues were part of the American Professional Football
League, a forerunner of the National Football League.
1915 – Jess Willard defeats Jack Johnson for the heavyweight boxing
crown in twenty three rounds.
1934 – Stanley Turrentine is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He
will become a jazz saxophonist and in 1953, will replace the
famed John Coltrane in the popular big band of Earl Bostic.
After a three-year army stint, which affords him his only
formal musical training, Turrentine comes to prominence on
the New York Jazz scene as a member of Max Roach’s group
in 1959. Over the years, Turrentine’s recordings will
combine musical energies with friends such as Ron Carter,
Roland Hanna, Ray Charles, Freddie Hubbard, Jon Hendricks,
George Benson, Cedar Walton, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Burrell,
Milt Jackson, Joe Sample, Shirley Scott, Jimmy Smith, Grady
Tate, and many others. He will be nominated for the Grammy
Award four times. He will join the ancestors on September 12,
1937 – Colin Powell is born in New York City. He will become a
highly decorated Army officer, receiving the Bronze Star and
Purple Heart during the Vietnam War, and will be later
promoted to four-star general in 1988. He will become the
first African American to serve as the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff for the U.S. Armed Forces.
1956 – Booker T. Washington becomes the only African American
honored twice on a U.S. postage stamp. To commemorate the
centennial of his birth, the U.S. Postal Service issues a
stamp depicting the cabin where he was born.
1967 – Philadelphia ’76er Wilt Chamberlain sets a NBA record of 41
rebounds in a single game.
1976 – FBI documents, released in response to a freedom of
information suit, reveal that the government mounted an
intensive campaign against civil rights organizations in the
sixties. In a letter dated August 25, 1967, the FBI said
the government operation, called COINTELPRO, was designed
“to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise
neutralize the activities of Black nationalists, hate-type
groups, their leadership, spokesmen, membership and
supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and
civil disorders.” A later telegram specifically named the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference as organizations having
“radical and violence prone leaders, members and followers.”
1977 – Gertrude Downing receives a patent for the corner cleaner
1984 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar breaks Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time career
scoring record of 31,419 points (31,421).
1990 – Seven African American journalists are inducted into the
newly created Hall of Fame of the National Association of
Black Journalists in Washington, DC. Dubbed “pioneers of
mainstream journalism,” the inductees include Dorothy Butler
Gilliam of the Washington Post, Malvin R. Goode of ABC
News, Mal H. Johnson of Cox Broadcasting, Gordon Parks of
Life Magazine, Ted Poston of the New York Post, Norma
Quarles of Cable News Network, and Carl T. Rowan of King
Features Syndicate. Twelve Pulitzer Prize winners are also
honored at the awards ceremonies.
2000 – Ending a two-year investigation, an independent counsel clears
Labor Secretary Alexis Herman of allegations that she had
solicited $ 250,000 in illegal campaign contributions.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.