July 9 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – July 9 *

1863 – Union troops enter Port Hudson, Louisiana. With the fall of
Vicksburg (on July 4) and Port Hudson, Union troops
control the Mississippi River and The Confederacy is
cut into two sections. Eight African American regiments
play important roles in the siege of Port Hudson.

1868 – Francis L. Cardozo is installed as secretary of the
state of South Carolina and becomes the first African
American cabinet officer on the state level.

1893 – Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performs the world’s first
open-heart surgery at Chicago’s Provident Hospital
(which he founded in 1891) on James Cornish, who had
been stabbed in the chest and was dying from blood
accumulation around the heart. Dr. Williams brought Mr.
Cornish to surgery, where he proceeded to open his
chest, drain the blood and successfully sutured the

1901 – Jester Hairston is born in Belew’s Creek, North Carolina,
and will move at a very early age to the Homestead
section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he will grow
up. He will attend the Massachusetts Agriculture College
(now University of Massachusetts), dropping out in the
1920s due to lack of money. After impressing a
benefactor with his singing, he will be sponsored at
Tufts University, graduating in 1929. He will move to New
York and will meet Hall Johnson, who will teach him to
respect Negro spirituals. He will begin his Hollywood
career in 1935 when Warner Brothers purchases the show,
“Green Pastures.” His early acting roles, will include
long-running parts on the radio and television versions
of “Amos ‘n’ Andy” as well as bit parts in Tarzan films.
Although many of his early acting jobs will portray less
than flattering images of Blacks, he will never apologize
for playing racial stereotypes. “We had a hard time then
fighting for dignity,” he will say years later. “We had
no power. We had to take it, and because we took it the
young people today have opportunities.” In addition to
his roles in television’s “Amos ‘n’ Andy” and “Amen,”
Hairston will excel as a musician, first with the Eva
Jessye Choir and later as assistant conductor of the Hall
Johnson Choir. He will also arrange choral music for
more than 40 film soundtracks. He will also become the
first African American to direct The Mormon Tabernacle
Choir. His film credits will include “The Alamo,” “To
Kill a Mockingbird,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Lady
Sings the Blues,” “The Last Tycoon” and “Lilies of the
Field,” for which he will compose the song “Amen.” That
song, which he dubbed for Sidney Poitier in the movie,
will reflect Hairston’s lifelong dedication to preserving
old Negro spirituals. He will be a sought-after choral
director who will organize Hollywood’s first integrated
choir and compose more than 300 spirituals. In his later
years, when working with students at college workshops,
Hairston will tell them, “You can’t sing legato when the
master’s beatin’ you across your back.” He will join the
ancestors in Los Angeles, California on January 18, 2000.

1927 – Attorney William T. Francis is named minister to Liberia.

1936 – June Millicent Jordan is born in the village of Harlem, New
York City. She will become a poet and author of books for
children and young adults and will be nominated for the
National Book Award in 1972 for “His Own Where.” Her
teaching career will begin in 1967 at the City College of
New York. Between 1968 and 1978 she will teach at Yale
University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Connecticut College.
She then will become the director of The Poetry Center and
be an English professor at SUNY at Stony Brook from 1978 to
1989. From 1989 to 2002 she was a full professor in the
departments of English, Women Studies, and African American
Studies at the University of California Berkeley. At
Berkeley, she will found Poetry for the People in 1991. The
program inspires and empowers students to use poetry as a
means of artistic expression. Reflecting on how she began
with the concept of the program, she said: “I did not wake
up one morning ablaze with a coherent vision of Poetry for
the People! The natural intermingling of my ideas and my
observations as an educator, a poet, and the African
American daughter of poorly documented immigrants did not
lead me to any limiting ideological perspectives or resolve.
Poetry for the People is the arduous and happy outcome of
practical, day-by-day, classroom failure and success”.
She will compose three guideline points that embody the
program, which will be published with a set of her students’
writings in 1995, entitled June Jordan’s Poetry for the
People: A Revolutionary Blueprint. She will join the
ancestors on June 14, 2002 after succumbing to breast cancer.

1947 – O.J. (Orenthal James) Simpson is born in San Francisco,
California. He will become a professional football player
after winning the Heisman Trophy – USC – in 1968. He will
be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after playing
for the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers. He will
then become an actor and be known for his roles in the
“Naked Gun” series, “The Towering Inferno,” “Roots,” and
“Capricorn One.” He will be charged with, and acquitted
of the murder of ex-wife, Nicole and Ron Goldman in 1995.

1951 – Dave Parker is born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He will become a
professional baseball player and will replace Roberto
Clemente as the right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates
after Clemente’s death. In 1978, he will become the first
Pirate to become Most Valuable Player since Clemente. He
will win three Gold Glove awards. His career will diminish
after he suffers from weight and knee problems, eventually
leading to drug problems. He will be traded to Cincinnati
and then to the Athletics, where he will contribute to their
1988 and 1989 pennants as a Designated Hitter and team

1955 – E. Frederick Morrow is appointed an administrative aide to
President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He is the first African
American to hold an executive position on a White House

1971 – Clergyman and activist Leon H. Sullivan is awarded the
NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for his achievements in transmitting
“the social gospel into economic progress for his people.”

1978 – Larry Holmes wins a decision over Ken Norton for the WBC

1979 – Dr. Walter Massey is named director of the Argonne National
Laboratory. He assumes control of an annual budget of more
than $250 million and a staff of almost four thousand.

1987 – Percy E. Sutton, former New York State legislator, president
of the Borough of Manhattan, founder of Inner City
Broadcasting and owner of the Apollo Theatre, receives the
NAACP’s Spingarn Medal.

2006 – Milan B. Williams, one of the original members of the Rhythm &
Blues group, The Commodores, joins the ancestors at the
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston,
Texas, after a long battle with cancer at the age of 58.
He was one of the founding members of the Commodores, which
formed in 1968 while all the members were in college at the
Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The group, whose best known
member was singer Lionel Richie, had a series of hits during
the 1970s and 1980s, including “Brick House,” “Easy” and
“Three Times A Lady.” He wrote the band’s first hit, “Machine

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.


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