April 12 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – April 12 *

1787 – Richard Allen and Absalom Jones organize Philadelphia’s
Free African Society which W.E.B. Du Bois refers to,
over a century later, “the first wavering step of a
people toward a more organized social life.”

1825 – Richard Harvey Cain is born in Greenbrier County,
Virginia (now part of West Virginia). He will become
an AME minister, an AME bishop, publisher, a member of
the South Carolina Senate, member of the U.S. House of
Representatives, and a founder of Paul Quinn College
in Waco, Texas. He will join the ancestors on January
18, 1887.

1861 – The Civil War begins as Confederate troops attack Fort
Sumter, South Carolina.

1864 – Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest captures Fort
Pillow, Tennessee, and massacres the inhabitants,
sparing, the official report says, neither soldier nor
civilian, African American nor white, male or female.
The fort is defended by a predominantly African
American force.

1869 – The North Carolina legislature passes anti-Klan

1940 – Herbert Jeffrey “Herbie” Hancock is born in Chicago,
Illinois. After graduating from college at age 20, he
will go to New York with Donald Byrd, who had heard him
perform in Chicago. While in New York, Byrd will
introduce Hancock to Blue Note Records executives. This
will lead to work with various established jazz
artists and later Hancock’s first solo album, “Taking
Off,” which includes appearances by Freddie Hubbard and
Dexter Gordon. Contained on this album is Hancock’s
first top 10 hit, “Watermelon Man.” It will not be long
before Hancock gets the attention of the legendary
Miles Davis, who will extend an invitation to Hancock
to join his new group. After working with Davis for
several years Herbie will decide to form his own band,
a sextet which will include Julian Priester, Buster
Williams, and Eddie Henderson. He will become one of
the most popular jazz artists, known for his
compositions “Watermelon Man” and “Chameleon,” as well
as his musical score for the movie “‘Round Midnight,”
for which he will win an Oscar in 1986.

1960 – Martin Luther King, Jr. denounces the Vietnam War which
he says is “rapidly degenerating into a sordid military

1968 – African American students occupy the administration
building at Boston University and demand Afro-American
history courses and additional African American

1980 – Liberian President William R. Tolbert Jr. and twenty-
seven others join the ancestors after being killed in
a coup d’etat by army enlisted men led by Master
Sergeant Samuel K. Doe.

1983 – The people of Chicago, Illinois elect Harold Washington
as the city’s first African American mayor.

1989 – Former middleweight boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson
joins the ancestors in Culver City, California, at age

1990 – August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” wins the Pulitzer
Prize for drama. It is the second Pulitzer Prize for
Wilson, who also won one for “Fences” in 1987 and was
awarded the New York Drama Critics’ Award for “Fences,”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and “Joe Turner’s Come and

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


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