* Today in Black History – May 30 *
1822 – Denmark Vesey’s conspiracy to free the slaves of Charleston,
South Carolina, and surrounding areas is thwarted when a
house slave betrays the plot to whites. Vesey’s bold plan
had attracted over 9,000 slaves and freemen of the area
including Peter Poyas, a ship’s carpenter, Gullah Jack,
Blind Phillip, Ned Bennett and Mingo Harth. Later it will
be considered one of the most complex and elaborate slave
liberation plans ever undertaken.
1831 – James Walker Hood is born in Kennett Township, Chester
County, Pennsylvania. He will become a minister in New
York City in the A.M.E. Zion Church. He will become the
first African American to publish a collection of sermons
when he publishes “The Negro in the Christian Pulpit.” His
other works will include “One Hundred Years of the African
Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,” and “The Plan of The
Apocalypse.” He will join the ancestors on October 30, 1918.
1854 – The Kansas-Nebraska Act repeals the Missouri Compromise and
opens the Northern territory to slavery.
1902 – Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry is born in Key West,
Florida. He will become the first real African American
film star known as “Stepin Fetchit.” Many sources will
cite 1892, 1896, or 1898 as his birth date, but he will
maintain his birth date as 1902. He will star in many films,
among which are “Amazing Grace,” “The Sun Shines Bright,”
“Miracle in Harlem,” and “Judge Priest.” His humbling,
ingratiating style of acting will appeal to the movie-going
public of his day, but unfortunately becomes a stereotype
for African American actors in the early years of cinema.
He will join the ancestors on November 19, 1985.
1903 – Countee Cullen is born in Louisville, Kentucky. Many sources
will state that his birthplace is New York City, but Cullen
will be reared in New York City by his paternal grandmother
until 1918, when he is adopted by the Reverend Frederick
Asbury Cullen, minister of Salem M.E. Church, one of the
largest congregations in Harlem. This will be a turning
point in his life, for he will be introduced into the very
center of black activism and achievement. He will win a
citywide poetry contest as a schoolboy and see his winning
stanzas widely reprinted. He will attend New York
University (B.A., 1925), win the Witter Bynner Poetry Prize,
and be elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Major American literary
magazines will accept his poems regularly, and his first
collection of poems, “Color” (1925), will be published to
critical acclaim before he finishes college. His several
volumes of poetry will include “Copper Sun” (1927); “The
Black Christ” (1929); and “On These I Stand” (published
posthumously, 1947), his selection of poems by which he
wished to be remembered. Cullen will also write a novel
dealing with life in Harlem, “One Way to Heaven” (1931),
and a children’s book, “The Lost Zoo” (1940). He will join
the ancestors on January 9, 1946.
1910 – Ralph Harold Metcalfe is born in Atlanta, Georgia. He will
become a world record holder in the 100-yard and 200-yard
dashes and win a bronze medal in the 1932 Olympic Games
and gold and silver medals in the 1936 Games. He will also
become a four-term congressman representing Illinois’s 1st
District. He will join the ancestors on October 10, 1978.
1915 – Henry Aaron Hill is born in St. Joseph, North Carolina. He
will become a trained chemist and will receive his Ph.D.
in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
in 1942. He will become founder and president of the
Riverside Research Laboratory in 1961. In 1977, he will
become the first African American president of the American
Chemical Society. He will join the ancestors on March 17,
1943 – James Earl Chaney is born in Meridian, Mississippi. He will
become a civil rights activist and joins the Congress For
Racial Equality. During Freedom Summer (1964 – when civil
rights organizations begin an extensive voter registration
and desegregation campaign in Mississippi), he will join
the ancestors on June 21, 1964, after being killed by the
Ku Klux Klan in Greenwood along with two white civil rights
1943 – Gale Sayers is born in Wichita, Kansas. He will become an
outstanding running back and a first-round draft pick of
the Chicago Bears in 1965. He will set the individual game
record for touchdowns scored (six). He will be elected to
the Football Hall of Fame in 1977, the youngest player ever
to receive the honor.
1949 – Lydell Douglas Mitchell is born in Salem, New Jersey. He
will become a football player and All-American running back
at Pennsylvania State University in 1971. He will go on to
play for the Baltimore Colts from 1972 to 1977. While at
Baltimore, he will set the Colts’ record for rushing
attempts (1391) and rushing yards (5487). After his
successful career run in Baltimore, Mitchell will be traded
to the San Diego Chargers after the 1977 season. He will
turn in a solid season in 1978 with the Dan Fouts-led
Chargers and will finish his career in 1980 appearing in
two games with the Los Angeles Rams. He will be inducted
into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
1953 – Eric Arthur “Dooley” Wilson joins the ancestors in Los
Angeles, California at the age of 59. He was a popular
jazz drummer in Europe and America. He also worked as an
actor, his most notable part playing the pianist “Sam” in
the movie “Casablanca.” He also appeared in the movies
“Stormy Monday” and “Night in New Orleans.”
1956 – African Americans begin a bus boycott in Tallahassee,
Florida with the goal of desegregating bus seating.
1965 – Vivian Malone becomes the first African American to graduate
from the University of Alabama, a college that had been one
of the last bastions of racial segregation in the South.
1967 – The state of Biafra secedes and declares its independence
from Nigeria. Biafra is inhabited primarily by Igbos (also
spelled Ibos) who live in southeastern Nigeria. Two months
after independence, Nigeria will attack Biafra and start a
war that will last until 1970 with Biafra’s surrender. Over
a million people will die due to war and famine.
1971 – Willie Mays scores his 1,950th run.
1993 – Herman “Sonny” Blount joins the ancestors in Birmingham,
Alabama at the age of 79. He had been a prominent jazz
bandleader, arranger and pianist. He was better known as
“Sun Ra,” and was the founder of Saturn Records. Three
documentaries produced about Sun Ra were “The Cry of Jazz”
(1959), “Space is the Place” (1971) and “Sun Ra: A Joyful
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.