* Today in Black History – July 6 *
1853 – A National Black convention meets in Rochester, New York,
with 140 delegates from nine states. James W.C.
Pennington of New York is elected president of this
meeting, generally considered the largest and most
representative of the early African American conventions.
1853 – William Wells Brown publishes “Clotel,” the first novel by
an African American.
1854 – The Republican Party is organized to oppose the extension
1864 – John Wesley Gilbert is born in Hepzibah, Georgia to a slave
family. He will attend Paine College and will later earn
B.A. (1888) and M.A. (1891) degrees in Greek at Brown
University. He will be the first African American to
receive a graduate degree from Brown University. While
working on his Masters degree, he will be awarded a
fellowship to attend the American School of Classical
Studies in Athens, Greece in 1890, the first person of
African descent to do so, and will help to draw a map of
Eretria (American Journal of Archaeology, 1891). He will
teach Greek at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia until
he joins the ancestors on November 19, 1923.
1868 – Eighty-five African Americans and 70 white representatives
meet in Columbia, South Carolina, at the opening of the
state’s General Assembly. It is the first and last U.S.
legislature with an African American majority.
1869 – African American candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia,
Dr. J.H. Harris, is defeated by a vote of 120,068 to
1930 – Donald McKayle is born in the village of Harlem in New York
City. He will make his debut, at 22, in “Her Name was
Harriet” (a dance tribute to Harriet Tubman) and go on to
dance in or choreograph “House of Flowers”, “The Bill Cosby
Special” (1968), the 1970 Academy Awards, the movie version
of “The Great White Hope,” and “Sophisticated Ladies” on
Broadway. Named one of “America’s Irreplaceable Dance
Treasures” by the Library of Congress and the Dance Heritage
Coalition, he will make his professional debut in 1948 with
New York’s New Dance Company and later performed in the
companies of Sophie Maslow, Jean Erdman, Martha Graham,
Merce Cunningham and Anna Sokolow. In addition to “West Side
Story,” he will appear in Broadway productions of “Bless
You All” (1950), “House of Flowers” (1954) and “Copper and
Brass” (1957). He will choreograph more than 50 works for
companies in the United States, Europe, Israel and South
America. Early pieces will include the classic “Games” (1950),
which examines the dangers faced by urban schoolchildren, as
well as the popular “Rainbow ÔRound My Shoulder” (1959) and
“District Storyville” (1962), which will remain in the repertory
of the Alvin Ailey Company. Following a stint as artistic
director for the Inner City Repertory Dance Company of Los
Angeles, he will return to Broadway, directing “Raisin” (1974),
“Dr. Jazz” (1975) and “Sophisticated Ladies” (1981), the latter
based on the life of Duke Ellington. Other theatrical works will
include “N’Orleans” (1981), a musical play co-written with Toni
Morrison and Dorothea Freitag, “Emperor Jones” (1984) and
“Stardust” (1990). Beginning in the mid-1960s, he will begin to
choreograph dance sequences for film and television. Credits will
include “The Bill Cosby Special” (CBS, 1967), “The Motown Special”
(NBC, 1968), The Great White Hope” (1969), “Bedknobs and
Broomsticks” (1970), “The 49th Annual Academy Awards” (ABC, 1977)
and “The Jazz Singer” (1980), among others. He will direct the
first few episodes of “Good Times” in 1974. His numerous honors
will include five Tony Award nominations; the NAACP Image Award
(for “Sophisticated Ladies”); an Emmy Award nomination; the
Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award; the Capezio
Award; the Heritage Award; the Living Legend Award and the Outer
Critics Circle Award. He will serves as professor of dance at the
University of California, Irvine, and maintain relationships with
several distinguished troupes.
1931 – Deloreese Patricia Early is born in Detroit, Michigan. She
will become a singer known as Della Reese. As a teen-ager,
she will tour with gospel great Mahalia Jackson and, at
the age of 18, will form the Meditation Singers and become
the first performer to take gospel music to the casinos of
Las Vegas. She will become the first African American
female to host a daytime television talk show (1969-70)
and will appear in numerous television series, including
“Sanford and Son,” “The A-Team” and, on the CBS Television
Network, “Crazy Like a Fox” and “Picket Fences.” She will
also star as a series regular in “Charlie & Company” and
“The Royal Family”, both on the CBS Network. In September,
1994, she became a regular on the award winning show,
“Touched By An Angel.”
1957 – Althea Gibson becomes the first African American tennis
player to win a Wimbledon singles title, defeating fellow
American Darlene Hard 6-3, 6-2. She will also team up
with Darlene Hard to win the doubles championship.
1964 – Malawi (then Nyasaland) gains independence from Great
1966 – Malawi becomes a republic.
1967 – The Biafran War erupts as Nigerian troops invade. The war
will last more than two years, claiming some 600,000
1971 – Louis Armstrong joins the ancestors in Corona, Queens, in
New York City. Armstrong had been one of the most popular
and influential jazz musicians since his 1929 hit “Ain’t
Misbehavin” and had enjoyed an immensely successful
performing and recording career.
1975 – The Comoros Islands declare independence from France. The
deputies of Mayotte refuse, and thus that island nation
remains under French control. The official languages in
Comoros are Arabic and French, but the vernacular is a
Comorian variant of Swahili. It is an island nation
located in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar approximately
250 miles off the coast of Africa.
1984 – Michael Jackson and his brothers start their “Victory Tour”
in Kansas City, Missouri’s Arrowhead Stadium. The tour
turns out to be a victory for the Jacksons when the
nationwide concert tour concludes months later.
1990 – Jesse Owens is honored on a stamp issued by the U.S. Postal
Service. Owens was a four-time Olympic gold medal winner
in the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.