* Today in Black History – May 23 *
1844 – Charles Edmund Nash is born in Opelousas, Louisiana. In 1863, during
the American Civil War, he will enlist as a private in the Eighty-
second Regiment, United States Volunteers, and will be promoted to
the rank of sergeant major. This regiment is listed in the U.S.
Colored Troops in the Mobile Campaign Union order of battle. He will
be severely wounded in 1863 near the end of the war, at the Battle
of Fort Blakely in Alabama, where he will lose part of his leg.
After the war, he will become a businessman and will be appointed
night inspector of U.S. customs. He will be elected as a Republican
to the Forty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1875, to March 3, 1877). He
will be unsuccessful as a candidate for reelection in 1876, as
Redeemers regained control of Louisiana politics. He will serve
briefly as postmaster at Washington in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana,
during the Chester A. Arthur administration, only from February 15
to May 1, 1882. He will be Louisiana’s first African American
Congressman and will remain the state’s only black U.S.
Representative for more than a century — until 1991, when William J.
Jefferson’s tenure in the 2nd Louisiana District begins. He will
join the ancestors on June 21, 1913 in New Orleans, Louisiana at the
age of sixty nine.
1878 – Attorney John Henry Smyth is named minister to Liberia. He will
serve from 1878 to 1881 and again as minister from 1882 to 1885.
1900 – Civil War hero, Sergeant William H. Carney of the 54th Massachusetts
Colored Infantry, becomes the first African American Congressional
Medal of Honor winner. He will be cited almost 37 years after the
Battle of Fort Wagner, where he carried the colors and led the
charge after the original standard-bearer was shot.
1910 – Benjamin Sherman “Scatman” Crothers is born in Terre Haute, Indiana.
He will become an entertainer and will appear in, or use his voice
in over 52 films. A noted character actor, he will best known
for his role in the TV series, “Chico and The Man.” Some of his
best remembered films will be “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,”
“The Shining,” “Lady Sings the Blues,” and “Roots.” He will also
make numerous guest appearances on a variety of television programs.
He will join the ancestors on November 22, 1986.
1920 – The Methodist Episcopal Church conference, meeting in Des Moines,
Iowa, elects two African American bishops, Matthew W. Clair of
Washington, DC, and Robert E. Jones of New Orleans, Louisiana.
1921 – “Shuffle Along,” the first of a popular series of musicals featuring
all African American casts, opens at the 63rd Street Music Hall in
New York City. The musical is written by Noble Sissle and Eubie
Blake and features Florence Mills and a young Josephine Baker in the
chorus. William Grant Still and Hall Johnson play in the orchestra.
1941 – Joe Louis defends his heavyweight boxing title for the 17th successful
time, as Buddy Baer is disqualified at the beginning of the seventh
round. Baer’s manager refused to leave the ring when the round was
ready to begin.
1954 – “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler is born in Newark, New Jersey. He will
become the World Middleweight Champion in 1980. Hagler will make 12
successful title defenses. Among his victims will be Vito Antuofermo,
Mustafa Hamsho, Roberto Duran, Juan Roldan, John “The Beast” Mugabi,
and Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns. His thrilling three-round shootout with
Hearns will be regarded as one of the best fights of all-time. His
last fight will be in 1987 when Sugar Ray Leonard comes out of
retirement and wins an exciting, but controversial 12-round split
decision for the WBC middleweight title. Hagler will retire after
Leonard does not give him a rematch. He will end his career with 62
wins, 3 losses, and 2 draws. He will be elected to the International
Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.
1961 – Twenty-seven Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi.
1975 – Loretta Mary Aiken, better known by her stage name of Jackie “Moms”
Mabley, joins the ancestors in White Plains, New York at the age of
81. Best known as a comedienne, she began her career as a singer at
the age of 14 and traveled the vaudeville circuit, appearing in
theaters and nightclubs. Making her comedy recording debut in 1960,
Mabley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show as well as in movie roles.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.