* Today in Black History – July 31 *
1874 – Patrick Francis Healy, a Jesuit priest, is inaugurated as
president of Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
Healy is the first African American to head a
predominantly white university and is credited with the
modernization of the university’s curriculum and the
expansion of its campus.
1921 – Whitney Young, Jr. is born in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky. He
will become dean of Atlanta University’s School of Social
Work before becoming executive director of the National
Urban League. As its leader during the 1960’s, he will
guide the organization through one of the most socially
and politically active decades in America’s history. A
1969 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,
Young will speak out against government and business’ lack
of commitment to African Americans. During a visit to
Nigeria in 1971, he will join the ancestors on March 11,
1971 after a swimming accident in Lagos.
1931 – Kenneth Earl “Kenny” Burrell is born in Detroit, Michigan.
He will become a prolific composer and professional musician
specializing in the guitar. For over forty years, he will be
a jazz professional. Kenny, who will credit Charlie
Christian, Oscar Moore, and Django Reinhardt as influences,
as well as such bluesmen as T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters,
will play on his first major recording session in Detroit in
1951 with a Dizzy Gillespie combo that will include John
Coltrane, Milt Jackson, and Percy Heath. Even though the
young guitarist will keep heavy company, including that of
such other up-and-coming Detroiters as Tommy Flanagan,
Yusef Lateef, Pepper Adams, and Elvin Jones, he will
remain in Detroit to study at Wayne State University, from
which he will earn a B.A. in music composition and theory
in 1955. He will also study classical guitar with Joseph
Fava during that period and continue to employ finger-
style and other techniques. After the mid-Sixties, he will
lead his own group plus work in “All-Star” settings and
will perform with college bands and orchestras. He will
also perform with professional orchestras such as the
Detroit Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic.
1938 – New York Yankees suspend Jake Powell, after he says on
Chicago radio that he would “hit every colored person in
Chicago over the head with a club.”
1960 – At a New York City meeting of the Nation of Islam, the
Honorable Elijah Muhammad calls for the creation of a
Black state in America.
1962 – Wesley Snipes is born in Orlando, Florida. After growing
up in the Bronx, New York City, he will become a film
actor starring in films such as “New Jack City,” “Jungle
Fever,” “Passenger 57,” “Demolition Man,” “Money Train,”
“Rising Sun,” “Major League,” “Sugar Hill,” “White Men
Can’t Jump,” and “King of New York.”
1969 – Racially motivated disturbances in Baton Rouge cause the
governor of Louisiana to mobilize the National Guard.
1981 – Attorney Arnette R. Hubbard is installed as the first
woman president of the National Bar Association, the
largest national group of African American attorneys,
legal scholars, and jurists. Hubbard is a graduate of
John Marshall Law School in Chicago and past president
of the Cook County Bar Association.
1985 – Prince is big at the box-office with the autobiographical
story of the Minneapolis rock star — “Purple Rain.” The
film grosses $7.7 million in its first three days of
release on 917 movie screens. The album of the same name
is, at the time, the top LP in the United States, as well.
1988 – Willie Stargell, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates, becomes
the 200th man inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame at
Cooperstown, New York.
1990 – Shoal Creek, a private club in Birmingham, Alabama, that
drew criticism for being all-white, announces it had
accepted a Black businessman as an honorary member.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.