* Today in Black History – July 27 *
1816 – “Negro Fort”, a former British fort built during the War of
1812 in Spanish-held Florida, is attacked by U.S. troops.
This battle will help to precipitate the First Seminole War.
The British will evacuate Florida in the spring of 1815,
leaving the well-constructed and fully-armed fort on the
Apalachicola River in the hands of their allies, about 300
fugitive slaves, including members of the disbanded Corps
of Colonial Marines, and 30 Seminole and Choctaw Indians.
News of “Negro Fort” (as it will come to be called) will
attract as many as 800 fugitive slaves, from as far away
as Tennessee and the Mississippi Territory, to seek refuge
at the fort. They will eventually settle in the surrounding
area. Under the command of a Black man named Garson and a
Choctaw chief (whose name is unknown), the inhabitants of
“Negro Fort” will launch raids across the Georgia border.
In March of 1816, under mounting pressure from Georgia
slaveholders, General Andrew Jackson will petition the
Spanish Governor of Florida to destroy the settlement. At
the same time, he will instruct Major General Edmund P.
Gaines, commander of U.S. military forces “in the Creek
nation,” to destroy the fort and “restore the stolen
negroes and property to their rightful owners.” On this
date, following a series of skirmishes in which they will
be routed by “Negro Fort” defenders, the American forces
and their 500 Lower Creek allies will launch an all-out
attack under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Duncan
Clinch, with support from a naval convoy commanded by
Sailing Master Jairus Loomis. A plaque will mark the
location of the fort’s powder magazine. The two sides will
exchange cannon fire, but the shots of the inexperienced
Black gunners will fail to hit their targets. A cannon
ball from the American forces will enter the opening to
the fort’s powder magazine, igniting an explosion that
will destroy the fort and kill all but 30 of 300 occupants.
Garson and the Choctaw chief, among the few who will
survive the carnage, are handed over to the Creeks, who
will shoot Garson and scalp the chief. Other survivors will
be returned to slavery. The U.S. Army will build
Fort Gadsden on this site in 1818 and occupy it until 1821,
when Spain cedes Florida to the United States. Fort Gadsden
is a National Historic Landmark, maintained by the National
Park Service, located six miles southwest of Sumatra,
Florida and is National Register Number: 72000318.
1880 – Inventor, Alexander P. Ashbourne, is awarded a patent for
refining coconut oil.
1919 – Chicago race riots kill 23 African Americans, 15 whites, and
injure more than 500, despite the warnings of Ida B.
Wells-Barnett to city officials to improve conditions for
African Americans in the city.
1937 – Woodie King, Jr. is born in Baldwin Springs, Alabama. He
will attend high school in Detroit and go on to attend
Leman College in New York and earn his M.F.A. from Brooklyn
College. In 1965, he will join Mobilization for Youth,
where he will spend the next five years working as the
cultural director. In 1970, he will found the New Federal
Theatre and the National Black Touring Circuit in New York
City, where he will be producing director. He will produce
shows both on and off Broadway, and will directed
performances across the country in venues like the New York
Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, Center Stage of
Baltimore and the Pittsburgh Public Theatre. His work will
earn him numerous nominations and awards, including a 1988
NAACP Image Award for his direction of “Checkmates”
(featuring Denzel Washington and 1993 Audelco Awards for
Best Director and Best Play for his production of “Robert
Johnson: Trick The Devil.” He will also receive an Obie
Award for Sustained Achievement. He will have an honorary
doctorate in humane letters conferred by Wayne State
University and a doctorate of fine arts by the College of
Wooster. In addition to his directing and producing of
theater, he will find time to write extensively about it.
He will contribute to numerous magazines, such as “Black
World,” “Variety” and “The Tulane Drama Review,” and will
also write a number of books.
1950 – Albert L. Hinton joins the ancestors, becoming the first
African American reporter to lose his life in a theater of
military operation, when an Army transport plane carrying
him crashes into the Sea of Japan while enroute to Korea.
1962 – Martin Luther King, Jr., is jailed in Albany, Georgia for
participating in a civil rights demonstration.
1967 – In the wake of urban rioting, President Johnson appoints
the Kerner Commission to assess the causes of the violence,
the same day Black militant H. Rap Brown said in Washington
that violence was “as American as cherry pie.”
1968 – A racially motivated disturbance occurs in Gary, Indiana.
1984 – Reverend C.L. Franklin joins the ancestors in Detroit,
Michigan, after a long coma sustained after being shot by
a burglar in his home. He was the founder of the New
Bethel Baptist Church, where his radio sermons drew a
nationwide audience and where the singing career of his
daughter, Aretha, began.
1999 – Harry “Sweets” Edison, a master of the jazz trumpet who was
a mainstay of the Count Basie band, joins the ancestors in
Columbus, Ohio at the age of 83. In a career spanning more
than 60 years, Edison had that rarest of qualities, an
utterly individual style. Although his sound was not
especially unique, his articulation, his ability to invest
each note with a driving sense of swing, was completely
his own. It didn’t matter whether he was playing with
Basie, with Frank Sinatra or Oscar Peterson, or on any of
his innumerable recording sessions; his solos, stamped with
his singular phrasing, always popped out of the mix.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.