* Today in Black History – April 6 *
1798 – James P. Beckwourth is born in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He
will become a noted scout in the western United States and
will discover a pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains between
the Feather and Truckee rivers that will bear his name. He
will join the ancestors on October 29, 1866.
1830 – James Augustine Healy is born to an Irish planter and a slave
on a plantation near Macon, Georgia. He will become the
first African American Roman Catholic priest and the first
African American Roman Catholic bishop in America. He
will join the ancestors on August 5, 1900.
1865 – Writing in the “Philadelphia Press” under the pen name
“Rollin,” Thomas Morris Chester describes the Union Army’s
triumphant entry into the city of Richmond, Virginia, during
the closing days of the Civil War. Rollin is the only
African American newspaperman writing for a mainstream
daily. There will be no others for almost 70 years.
1869 – Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett, the principal of the Institute for
Colored Youth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is named Minister
to Haiti and becomes the first major African American diplomat
and the first African American to receive a major appointment
from the United States government.
1909 – Matthew Henson, accompanying Commander Robert Peary’s
expedition, is the first, in the party of six, to discover the
North Pole. The claim, disputed by scientific skeptics, was
upheld in 1989 by the Navigation Foundation. Although in
later years Henson will be called Peary’s servant or merely
“one Negro” on the expedition, Henson is a valuable colleague
and co-discoverer of the pole. Peary says, “I couldn’t get
along without him.”
1917 – America enters World War I. President Wilson, who has just
inaugurated a policy of segregation in government agencies,
tells Congress that “the world must be made safe for
1931 – The first trial of the Scottsboro Boys begins in Scottsboro,
Alabama. This trial of nine African American youths accused
of raping two white women on a freight train become a cause
1931 – Ivan Dixon is born in New York City. He will become an actor
and director and will be best known for his comedic role on
the TV series “Hogan’s Heroes.” One of his first acting
credits will be for the celebrated television anthology show
“The Dupont Show of the Month” in the 1960 production of
“Arrowsmith.” He will go on to act in the film version of the
theatrical drama “A Raisin in the Sun” with Ruby Dee and
Sidney Poitier in 1961, in which he plays Asagai, the African
boyfriend of Beneatha. He will also portray Jim in the 1959
film version of “Porgy and Bess.” His other pre-“Hogan’s
Heroes” film work includes: “Something of Value” (1957), “The
Murder Men” (1961), and “The Battle at Bloody Beach” (1961).
After leaving Hogan’s heroes he will appear in more films
including “A Patch of Blue” and “Car Wash.” Ivan will begin
directing films in the early 1970s, such as the 1972 gang
warfare flick “Trouble Man” and the 1973 action movie “The
Spook Who Sat by the Door” (which he will also produce). For
television, he will direct “Love Is Not Enough” (1978), the
series “Palmerstown, U.S.A.” (1980), the detective series
“Hawaiian Heat” (1984), and the telemovie “Percy & Thunder”
(1993). He will join the ancestors on March 16, 2008.
1937 – William December is born in the village of Harlem in New York
City. He will become one of the most romantic leading men of
film and television, better known as ‘Billy Dee Williams.’
Among his best known roles will be football great Gale Sayers
in the TV movie “Brian’s Song” as well as leading parts in
the movies “Lady Sings the Blues,” “Mahogany” and two “Star
1971 – “Contemporary Black Artists in America” opens at the Whitney
Museum of American Art in New York City. The exhibit includes
the work of 58 master painters and sculptors such as Jacob
Lawrence, Charles White, Alma Thomas, Betye Saar, David
Driskell, Richard Hunt, and others.
1994 – The presidents of Rwanda and Burundi are killed in a mysterious
plane crash near Rwanda’s capital. Widespread violence erupts
in Rwanda over claims the plane had been shot down.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.