July 24 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – July 24 *

1651 – Anthony Johnson, a free African American, receives a grant
of 250 acres in Virginia.

1807 – Ira Frederick Aldridge is born in New York City. He will
become an American stage actor making his career largely
on the London stage. He will be the only actor of African
American descent among the 33 actors of the English stage
with bronze plaques at the Shakespeare Memorial Theater at
Stratford-upon-Avon. As a youth, he will attend the African
Free School in New York City. His early “education” in
theater will include viewing plays from the high balcony of
the Park Theatre, New York’s leading theater of the time.
His first professional acting experience will be in the
early 1820s with the company associated with the African
Grove, where he will debut as Rolla in Pizzaro. He will go
on to play Shakespeare’s Romeo and later become a rather
famous Hamlet. Confronted with the persistent disparagement
and harassment that Black actors had to endure in the
antebellum United States, he will emigrate to England, where
he will become a dresser to the British actor Henry Wallack.
When he starts appearing on the stage at the Royalty Theater,
he will be just called a gentleman of color. But when he
moves over to the Royal Coburg, he will be advertised in the
first playbill as the American Tragedian from the African
Theater New York City. The 2nd playbill refers to him as
‘The African Tragedian.’ He will perform scenes from Othello
that will stun reviewers. One critic will write, “In Othello
(Aldridge) delivers the most difficult passages with a degree
of correctness that surprises the beholder.” He will
gradually progress to increasingly larger roles. By 1825, he
will have top billing at London’s Coburg Theatre as Oronoko
in “A Slave’s Revenge,” soon to be followed by the role of
Gambia in “The Slave” and the title role of Shakespeare’s
“Othello.” He will also play major roles in plays such as
“The Castle” Spectre” and “The Padlock” and will play
several roles of specifically white characters, including
Captain Dirk Hatteraick and Bertram in Rev. R. C. Maturin’s
“Bertram,” the title role in Shakespeare’s “Richard III,”
and Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice.” He will first tour
to continental Europe in 1852, with successes in Germany
(where he will be presented to the Duchess Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
and perform for Frederick William IV of Prussia) and in
Budapest. An 1858 tour will take him to Serbia and to
Imperial Russia, where he becomes acquainted with Leo
Tolstoy. He will master enough Russian to perform roles in
that language. After advancing in years, he will play (in
England) the title role of King Lear for the first time. He
will apply for British citizenship in 1863. He will spend
most of his final years in Russia and continental Europe,
interspersed with occasional visits to England. A planned
return to the post-Civil-War United States will be prevented
when he joins the ancestors on August 7, 1867 while visiting
Lódz, Poland. His remains will be buried in the city’s
Evangelical Cemetery. Twenty three years will pass before a
proper tombstone is erected. His grave will be tended by the
Society of Polish Artists of Film and Theatre.

1893 – Charles Spurgeon Johnson is born in Bristol, Virginia. He
will attend Wayland Academy and receive his undergraduate
degree from Virginia Union University. He will complete the
doctoral degree in Sociology in 1917 at the University of
Chicago. While a student in Chicago, he will assume
responsibility as director of research and investigation for
the Chicago Urban League. During World War I, he will enlist
in the army and serve in France. He will return to Chicago
after the war, one week before the race riot of 1919. He
will complete a study and analysis of the race riot and
present a plan to study its causes. The governor will accept
his plan and appoint him as associate executive secretary of
Chicago’s Commission on Race Relations. The commission will
publish a report entitled, “The Negro in Chicago.” In 1921,
he will become the director of research for the National
Urban League in New York, where he will found and edit
“Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life,” a periodical
designed to stimulate pride in past racial achievements and
to show there was hope for the Black future. He will come to
Fisk University in 1927 to head the department of social
research, which will be established by a gift from
the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial. As head, he will
create a first-class department and receive large grants
from foundations. He will devote his life, research,
writing, and teaching to explaining Blacks to whites, whites
to Blacks, southerners to northerners, and urban and rural
dwellers to one another. His scholarly ability will be
recognized by awards and appointments, including the 1930
William E. Harmon Gold Medal for distinguished achievement
among Blacks in the field of science and service on the
National Housing Commission under President Herbert Hoover
and on the U. S. Committee on Farm Tenancy under President
Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1934, he will be elected the
first Black trustee of the Julius Rosenwald Fund and become
the first Black accorded the honor of being elected
vice-president in 1937 of the American Sociological Society.
He will help Fisk become a center for research in race
relations. When the university creates the Institute of
Race Relations in 1944, he will be chosen to head the unit.
He will gather distinguished scholars at Fisk, including E.
Franklin Frazier, Horace Mann Bond, Bertram Doyle, Paul K.
Edwards, and Robert E. Park. In October 1946, the board of
trustees will choose him as the university’s first Black
president. Their selection will be inspired by his
capabilities, not his race. Under his presidency, the
university will enlarge its student body and the endowment.
He will join the ancestors in 1956. He will live long enough
to celebrate the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v.
Board of Education, which will declare racial segregation in
the public schools unconstitutional. He played a key role in
the effort to implement the decision the face of “massive
resistance.” His work and that of his peers helped pave the
way for the civil rights legislation of the Sixties.

1898 – Katherine Yarborough is born in Wilmington, North Carolina.
She will be educated in Wilmington’s Catholic schools and
will go to New York at age 13 to study music. During the
1920’s, she will study under the singing masters in Paris
and Milan and will debut in the role of Aida at the Puccini
Theatre in Milan, Italy in 1930 as Caterina Jarboro. She
will make her triumphant American debut in 1933 with the
Chicago Opera Company’s production of Aida at the Hippodrome
in New York City. Her distinguished career will include
appearances in Paris, Madrid, Vienna, Warsaw, Moscow and
many of the great opera houses throughout the world. On two
separate occasions, she will graciously perform before a
Wilmington audience at the Academy of Music (Thalian Hall)
in 1933 and at the Williston Industrial High School
Auditorium in 1951. She will be a special guest of honor at
the first St. Thomas Celebration of the Arts in 1982. She
will join the ancestors on August 23, 1986 in Manhattan at
the age of 88. She will be posthumously inducted into the
Arts Council of the Lower Cape Fear – Walk of Fame on
December 11, 1999.

1900 – A race riot occurs in New Orleans, Louisiana. Two white
policemen are killed.

1908 – Charles Melvin “Cootie” Williams is born in Mobile, Alabama.
He will become an American jazz and Rhythm and Blues
trumpeter. He will be known for his renditions of “Echoes
of Harlem,” “Concerto for Cootie,” and “Carelessly.” He
also will lead his own group, The Cootie Williams Sextet
and Orchestra, performing “Tess’ Torch Song” and “Cherry
Red Blues.” He will rise to prominence as a member of Duke
Ellington’s orchestra, with which he will perform from 1929
to 1940. He will also record his own sessions during this
time, both freelance and with other Ellington sidemen.
In 1940 he will join Benny Goodman’s orchestra and in 1941
will form his own orchestra. Over the years he will employ
Charlie Parker, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Bud Powell, Eddie
Vinson, and other important young players. He will begin to
play more Rhythm and Blues in the late 1940s. In the 1950s
he will tour with small groups and fall into obscurity. In
1962 he will rejoin Duke Ellington and stay with the
orchestra until 1974, after Ellington’s death. He will be
renown for his use of the plunger mute, and is reputed to
have inspired Wynton Marsalis’s use of it. He will join the
ancestors on September 15, 1985 in New York City.

1919 – A race riot occurs in Washington, DC. Six persons are
killed and one hundred are wounded.

1921 – Billy Taylor is born in Greenville, North Carolina. He will
become a jazz pianist. His recording career will span nearly
six decades. He will also compose over three hundred and
fifty songs, including “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To
Be Free,” as well as works for theatre, dance and symphony
orchestras. Playing the piano professionally since 1944, he
will get his start with Ben Webster’s Quartet on New York’s
famed 52nd Street. He will then serve as the house pianist
at Birdland, the legendary jazz club where he will perform
with such celebrated masters as Charlie Parker, Dizzy
Gillespie and Miles Davis. Since the 1950s, he will be
leading his own Trio, as well as performing with the most
influential jazz musicians of the twentieth century. He
will not only be an influential musician, but a highly
regarded teacher as well, receiving his Masters and
Doctorate in Music Education from the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst and serving as a Duke Ellington
Fellow at Yale University. He will also host and program
such radio stations as WLIB and WNEW in New York, and award
winning series for National Public Radio. In the early
1980s, Taylor became the arts correspondent for CBS Sunday
Morning. He will be one of only three jazz musicians
appointed to the National Council of the Arts, and also
serve as the Artistic Advisor for Jazz to the Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts, where he will develop one
acclaimed concert series after another including the Louis
Armstrong Legacy series, and the annual Mary Lou Williams
Women in Jazz Festival. With over twenty three honorary
doctoral degrees, he will also be the recipient of two
Peabody Awards, an Emmy, a Grammy and a host of prestigious
and highly coveted prizes, such as the National Medal of
Arts, the Tiffany Award, a Lifetime achievement Award from
Downbeat Magazine, and, election to the Hall of Fame for
the International Association for Jazz Education.

1924 – Townsend “Sonny” Brewster, playwright and activist, is born.
He will compose many plays including “Amator, Amator,”
“Ananlas, Jr.,” “Andromeda,” “The Anonymous Lover,”
“Arrangement in Rose and Silver,” “Arthur Ashe and I,”
“Black-Belt Bertram,” “Chief Rathebe,” “Chocolat Volatil,”
“The Choreography of Love,” “The Cocktail Sip,” “The
Complete Works of Kalkbrenner,” “Ebur and Ebony,” “The
Ecologists,” “The Girl Beneath The Tulip Tree,”
“Hariequinades For Mourners,” “How The West Was Fun,”
“Idomeneus,” “The Jade Funerary Suit,” “Johnny Renaissance,”
“Lady Plum Blossom,” “Little Girl, Big Town,” “Look
Eastward,” “The Main-Chance Rag,” “Mascara and Confetti,”
“Mood Indigo,” “Mowgli,” “No Place For A Lady,” “O My
Pretty Quintroon,” “Oh, What a Beautiful City!,” “The Palm-
Leaf Boogie,” “Pinter’s Revue Sketches,” “Please Don’t Cry
and Say ‘No’,” “Praise Song,” “Rough and Ready,” “Sight
Unseen,” “Singapore Sling,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at
Merle,” “Though It’s Been Said Many Times, Many Ways,” “A
Threnody for the Newly Born,” “To See the World in a Drop
of Brine,” “The Tower,” “Waiting for Godzilla,” “The
Washerwoman,” and “What Are Friends For?”

1929 – Cornelius H. Charlton, Korean War Hero, is born in East
Gulf, West Virginia. Sergeant Charlton will be killed in
action, from wounds received during his daring exploits,
on June 2, 1951 near Chipo-ri, Korea. He will be
posthumously awarded The Congressional Medal of Honor on
March 19, 1952. His Medal of Honor citation will read:
“Sgt. Charlton, a member of Company C, distinguished
himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and
beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. His
platoon was attacking heavily defended hostile positions
on commanding ground when the leader was wounded and
evacuated. Sgt. Charlton assumed command, rallied the men,
and spearheaded the assault against the hill. Personally
eliminating 2 hostile positions and killing 6 of the enemy
with his rifle fire and grenades, he continued up the
slope until the unit suffered heavy casualties and became
pinned down. Regrouping the men he led them forward only to
be again hurled back by a shower of grenades. Despite a
severe chest wound, Sgt. Charlton refused medical attention
and led a third daring charge which carried to the crest of
the ridge. Observing that the remaining emplacement which
had retarded the advance was situated on the reverse slope,
he charged it alone, was again hit by a grenade but raked
the position with a devastating fire which eliminated it
and routed the defenders. The wounds received during his
daring exploits resulted in his death but his indomitable
courage, superb leadership, and gallant self-sacrifice
reflect the highest credit upon himself the infantry, and
the military service.”

1939 – Walter Jones Bellamy is born in New Bern, North Carolina.
After becoming an Olympic athlete and winning a gold medal
in 1960, he will become a professional basketball player.
He will be the NBA first overall draft pick in 1962. He
will be the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1962, and his 31.6
point per game average that season will be second all-time
for a rookie to Wilt Chamberlain’s 37.6. He will also grab
19.0 rebounds per game that year — third best all-time for
a rookie (to Chamberlain and Bill Russell). He will have a
stellar 14 year career in the NBA. Due to trade scheduling
skews during the 1968-69 season, he will set the still-
standing record for NBA games played in a single season
with 88. He will be elected to the Naismith Memorial
Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

1954 – Mary Church Terrell, civil rights leader/educator and first
African American to serve on the District of Columbia
board of education, joins the ancestors at the age of 90
in Washington, DC.

1961 – Grace Ann Bumbry makes her debut in Richard Wagner’s
“Tannhauser” at the Bayreuth Festival in Bavaria.
Surrounded by controversy that saw the German press protest
the role of Venus being sung by an African American,
Bumbry’s performance dispels all doubts as she receives 42
curtain calls during a 30-minute ovation.

1963 – Karl “The Mailman” Malone is born in Bernice, Louisiana.
He will become a professional basketball player with the
Utah Jazz. He will be selected at least six times to the
All-NBA first team during his career. He will be nicknamed
in college as “The Mailman” for his consistency (“the
mailman always delivers”), and will be arguably the
greatest power forward ever in the NBA. He will spend his
first 18 seasons (1985–2003) as the star player for the
Utah Jazz. He will then play one season (2003-04) for the
Los Angeles Lakers before retiring from the game. He will
be famous for his extremely well-defined physique, which
resembled that of a bodybuilder. Along with Patrick Ewing,
Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins, Elgin
Baylor, and his longtime Jazz teammate John Stockton, he
is considered to be one of the best players, perhaps even
the best, never to have won a championship ring. His
jersey will be retired on March 23, 2006, when the Jazz
host the Washington Wizards. He will also be honored with
the unveiling of a bronze statue outside the Delta Center
next to one of teammate John Stockton, and the renaming of
a portion of 100 South St. in Salt Lake City in his honor.
The intersection where the Stockton and Malone statues
stand is now the intersection of Stockton and Malone.

1964 – Barry Bonds is born in Riverside, California. He will
become a professional baseball player,playing left field
for the San Francisco Giants. He will be a six-time All-
Star, six-time Gold Glove winner, and three-time National
League Most Valuable Player. He will hold many Major
League Baseball records, including most home runs in a
single season (73) and is second on the all-time career
home runs list at 753, trailing only Hank Aaron’s career
total of 755. He will be generally thought of as being
one of the top 3 greatest hitters of all time along
with legends Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. He is also
considered by many to be one of the best all around
players in the history of baseball.

1965 – Kadeem Hardison is born in Brooklyn, New York. He will
become interested in acting in his early teens, and will
begin studying theater at New York’s Eubie Blake Theater.
One of his instructors will be Earle Hyman, who will
later portray Grandpa Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.” His
work with Hyman will help win the young actor a guest spot
on a 1984 episode of “The Cosby Show,” playing opposite
Lisa Bonet. The same year, He will make his big-screen
debut with a small role in the hip-hop musical “Beat
Street.” He will make a handful of appearances in movies
and television projects over the next two years, but his
debut appearance on “The Cosby Show” will earn him a
major dividend in 1987, when Denise Huxtable, Lisa
Bonet’s character on “The Cosby Show,” is spun-off into
her own series, “A Different World,” and he is cast as
fellow student Dwayne Wayne. While Bonet will leave the
show after its first season, he will remain in the cast
for its entire seven-season run, and direct several
during the show’s final two seasons. During his down time
from “A Different World,” he will continue to work in
motion pictures, with supporting roles in “I’m Gonna Git
You Sucka” and “School Daze” and a leading role in the
independent horror film “Def By Temptation.” After “A
Different World” goes off the air in 1993, he will
concentrate on film work, with roles ranging from the
horror/comedy “Vampire in Brooklyn” to the political
drama “Panther.” In 1997, he will take another stab at
series television on the short-lived sitcom “Between
Brothers,” and begin adding more TV guests spots to his
resumé, appearing on “Touched By an Angel,” “Just Shoot
Me,” and the revived “Fantasy Island,” while still
maintaining a busy schedule of film work.

1967 – Three days of racially motivated disturbances begin in
Cambridge, Maryland, the site of a 1963 confrontation
between civil rights demonstrators and white

1969 – Muhammad Ali’s conviction for refusing induction in U.S.
Army is upheld on appeal.

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


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