* Today in Black History – June 21 *
1821 – The African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church is
formally constituted in New York City at its first annual
conference. Nineteen clergymen were present, representing
six African American churches from New York City,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Haven, Connecticut and
Newark, New Jersey. They voted to separate from the
white-controlled Methodist Episcopal Church, which had
insisted on ultimate control of the church’s leadership and
property. To distinguish between the two African Methodist
Episcopal organizations, as well as to honor their original
congregation, in 1848 they will vote to add Zion to their
1832 – Joseph Haynes Rainey is born in Georgetown, South Carolina.
He will become the first African American elected to the
U.S. House of Representatives, where he will serve five
terms. He will join the ancestors on August 1, 1887.
1859 – Henry Ossawa Tanner is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Son
of AME bishop Benjamin Tanner, young Tanner will forgo the
ministry to take up painting. Constantly facing the tension
between racial stereotypes and his art, Tanner will
eventually emigrate to France to pursue his art, considered
by many the finest produced by an African American. He will
be known for his commanding use of light and color in his
seascapes, scenes of everyday life, and religious paintings.
He will join the ancestors in Paris, France on May 25, 1937.
1868 – John Hope is born in Augusta, Georgia. He will become the
first African American president of Atlanta Baptist (later
Morehouse) College in 1906. He will be a pioneer in the
field of education. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown
University, He will encourage an intellectual climate
comparable to what he had known at his alma mater and will
openly challenge Booker T. Washington’s view that education
for African Americans should emphasize vocational and
agricultural skills. He will join the ancestors on February
1923 – Marcus Garvey is sentenced by the U.S. government to 5 years
in prison for using the U.S. mail to defraud. He is
railroaded by a government that is terrified by the control
that one magnificent orator had over African Americans.
They did not want their major source of cheap labor in
America to leave for Africa.
1927 – Carl B. Stokes is born in Cleveland, Ohio. He will become the
first African American elected mayor of a major American
city. He will be elected to two terms as mayor of Cleveland,
Ohio at a time of urban riots and racial unrest in many major
U.S. cities. Civil rights leaders said his election was an
advance, both symbolic and genuine, for the cause of black
political empowerment. He will be instrumental in getting
through a law requiring city contractors to have minority
employment programs. President Clinton will appoint him, in
1994, as ambassador to the Seychelles, an island nation in
the Indian Ocean. He will join the ancestors on April 3, 1996.
1945 – Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. becomes the first African
American to command a U.S. Army Air Force base when he
takes command of the 477th Composite Group of Godman Field
1951 – PFC William H. Thompson is posthumously awarded the
Congressional Medal of Honor. He is the first African
American recipient since the Spanish-American War.
1964 – In Neshoba County in central Mississippi, three civil rights
field workers disappear after investigating the burning of
an African American church by the Ku Klux Klan. Michael
Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had
traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help
organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of
Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a
local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The
disappearance of the three young men garnered national
attention and led to a massive FBI investigation that was
code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.” They are later
1965 – Arthur Ashe leads UCLA to the NCAA tennis championship.
1990 – Little Richard gets a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
1997 – Patrice Rushen receives an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award
for her contributions in the field of music.
2001 – Famed blues man John Lee Hooker joins the ancestors at the
age of 83 of natural causes in Los Altos, California. The
veteran blues singer from the Mississippi Delta estimated
that he recorded more than 100 albums over nearly seven
decades. He won a Grammy Award for a version of “I’m In The
Mood,” was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in
1991 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2000
Grammys. Through it all, Hooker’s music remained hypnotic
and unchanged — his rich and sonorous voice, full of
ancient hurt, coupled with a brooding, rhythmic guitar. He
sang of loneliness and confusion. Neither polished nor
urbane, his music was raw, primal emotion.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.