April 21 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – April 21 *

1878 – The ship Azor leaves Charleston, South Carolina, on its
first trip, carrying 209 African Americans bound for

1892 – African American Longshoremen strike for higher wages in St.
Louis, Missouri.

1900 – Dumarsais Estime’ is born in Verrettes, Artibonite, Haiti.
He will become president of Haiti in 1946 and will be
regarded as a progressive leader and statesman. He will
be the first black head of state since the U.S. occupation
of Haiti ended in 1934. He will join the ancestors in New
York City on July 20, 1953.

1938 – The Harlem Suitcase Theatre opens with Langston Hughes’s
play “Don’t You Want to be Free?” The play’s star is a
young Robert Earl Jones, father of James Earl Jones.

1940 – Souleymane Cisse’ is born in Bamako, Mali. He will become
a filmmaker, graduating from the State Institute of Cinema
in Moscow in 1969. In 1972, he will produce his first
medium-length film, “Cinq jours d’une vie” (Five Days in a
Life), which tells the story of a young man who drops out
of a Qur’anic school and becomes a petty thief living on
the street. Cinq Jours will premier at the Carthage Film
Festival. In 1974, he will produce his first full-length
film in the Bambara language, “Den muso” (The Girl), the
story of a young mute girl who has been raped. The girl
becomes pregnant, and is rejected both by her family and by
the child’s father. “Den Muso” will be banned by the Malian
Minister of Culture, and he will be arrested and jailed for
having accepted French funding. In 1978, he will produce
“Baara” (Work), which will receive the Yenenga’s Talon prize
at Fespaco in 1979. In 1982, he will produce “Finyé” (Wind),
which tells the story of dissatisfied Malian youth rising up
against the establishment. This will earn him his second
Yenenga’s Talon, at 1983’s Fespaco. Between 1984 and 1987, he
will produce “Yeelen” (Light), a coming-of-age film which will
win the Jury Prize at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. In 1995,
he will produce “Waati” (Time) which will compete for the
Palme d’Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. He will become
president of UCECAO, the Union of Creators and Entrepreneurs
of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts of Western Africa. He will
become one of the most popular filmmakers in Africa.

1966 – Milton Olive, Jr. becomes the first African American to win
the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery during the
Vietnam War. He will be honored for saving the lives of his
fellow soldiers by falling on a live grenade while
participating in a search-and-destroy mission near Phu

1965 – Pedro Albizu Campos joins the ancestors at the age of 71 in
San Juan, Puerto Rico. Campos was a Puerto Rican of
African descent who advocated Puerto Rico’s independence
and condemned United States imperialism and the 1898
invasion and occupation of Puerto Rico. Some Puerto Ricans
refer to him as “Don Pedro,” and one of the fathers of
Puerto Rican national identity.

1966 – His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie visits Kingston,

1971 – Francois Duvalier, known as “Papa Doc,” joins the ancestors
in Port-au-Prince, Haiti at the age of 64. He had been
president-for-life of Haiti from 1957 to 1971. He will be
succeeded in power by his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier.

1974 – By winning the Monsanto Open in Pensacola, Florida, Lee
Elder becomes the first African American professional golfer
to qualify for the Masters Tournament. It will be one of
four PGA tour victories for the Dallas, Texas, native,
including the Houston Open in 1976 and the Greater Milwaukee
Open and Westchester Classic in 1978. Elder’s career
earnings of $2 million will place him among the top three
African American golfers, along with Calvin Peete ($2.3
million and 12 PGA tournament victories) and Charlie Sifford
($1 million).

2003 – Nina Simone, “High Priestess of Soul”, joins the ancestors in
Carry-le-Rouet (South of France) at the age of 70. As she
wished, her ashes will be spread in different African
countries. She gained fame in the 1960s for her civil rights

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


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