* Today in Black History – May 14 *
1867 – A riot occurs in Mobile, Alabama, after an African American
mass meeting. One African American and one white are
1885 – Erskine Henderson wins the Kentucky Derby riding Joe Cotton.
The horse’s trainer is another African American, Alex
1897 – Sidney Joseph Bechet is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. A
member of both Duke Ellington’s and Noble Sissle’s
orchestras, he will move to France and there will achieve
the greatest success of his career. He will be perhaps the
first notable jazz saxophonist. He will be the greatest
jazz soloist of the 1920s along with Louis Armstrong. He
will join the ancestors on May 14, 1959 after succumbing to
lung cancer. In 1968, he will be inducted into Down Beat
magazine’s Jazz Hall of Fame.
1898 – Arthur James ‘Zutty’ Singleton is born in Bunkie, Louisiana.
He will become a percussion musician and bandleader. He
will start as a drummer at the age of 15 and will work in
a variety of bands until he forms his own in 1920. He will
eventually make his way to Chicago and will become part of
the “Chicago School of Jazz.” He will be primarily
remembered for introducing sock cymbals and wire brushes
as percussion accessories. These innovations will place
him in demand as an accompanist for jazz greats like Louis
Armstrong, Fats Waller, Dizzy Gillespie, Jelly Roll Morton,
and Charlie Parker. He will perform primarily in New York
City from 1953 until 1970. He will join the ancestors on
July 14, 1975.
1906 – Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda is born near Kasungu, British
Central African Protectorate. Even though his official
birthdate is cited as 1906, many sources show his birth
date as 1898. He will become Malawi’s first prime minister
after independence in 1963. In 1966, he will elected
Malawi’s president in 1966. He will lead Malawi until
1994. He will join the ancestors in Johannesburg, South
Africa on November 25, 1997.
1913 – Clara Stanton Jones is born in St. Louis, Missouri. She
will become the first African American director of the
Detroit Public Library and the first African American
president of the American Library Association. She will
join the ancestors on September 30, 2012.
1943 – Tania Justina Leon is born in Havana, Cuba. She will become a
pianist, composer, and orchestral conductor. Her music
style will encompass Afro-Cuban rhythm and elements of
jazz and gospel. She will emigrate to the United States
in 1967 and in 1969 will join the Dance Theater of Harlem
as a pianist. She will later become the artistic director
of the troupe. Some her compositions for the Dance
Theater of Harlem will include “Tones,” “Beloved,” and
“Dougla.” She will debut as a conductor in 1971 and
starting in 1980 when she leaves the Dance Theater of
Harlem, will serve as guest conductor and composer with
orchestras in the United States and Europe. In 1993, she
will become an advisor to the New York Philharmonic
conductor, Kurt Masur on contemporary music.
1959 – Soprano saxophonist Sidney Joseph Bechet joins the
ancestors in Paris, France on his sixty second birthday
after succumbing to cancer.
1961 – A bus, with the first group of Freedom Riders, is bombed
and burned by segregationists outside Anniston, Alabama.
The group is attacked in Anniston and Birmingham.
1963 – Twenty-year-old Arthur Ashe becomes the first African
American to make the U.S. Davis Cup tennis team.
1966 – Georgia Douglas Johnson joins the ancestors in Washington,
DC at the age of 88. She was a poet and playwright. While
she never lived in Harlem, she is associated with the
Harlem Renaissance because her home was a regular oasis
for many of the writers of that literary movement. Her
home hosted writer workshops and discussion groups while
also being a place of lodging for those writers when they
visited Washington, DC. Her own poetry and plays were
very popular with African American audiences during the
1969 – John B. McLendon becomes the first African American coach
in the ABA when he signs a two-year contract with the
1970 – Two students are killed by police officers in a major
racial disturbance at Jackson State University in
1986 – Reggie Jackson hits his 537th home run passing Mickey
Mantle into 6th place of all time home run hitters.
1989 – Kirby Puckett becomes the first professional baseball
player since 1948 to hit 6 consecutive doubles.
1995 – Myrlie Evers-Williams (widow of Medgar Evers) is sworn in
to head the NAACP, pledging to lead the civil rights group
away from its recent troubles and restore it as a
political and social force.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.