Today in Black History – September 5 *
1804 – Absalom Jones is ordained a priest in the Protestant
1846 – John Wesley Cromwell is born into slavery in Portsmouth,
Virginia. After receiving freedom, he and his family
will move to Philadelphia. In 1865, he will return to
Portsmouth to open a private school, which will fail due
to racial harassment. He will enter Howard University in
Washington, DC in 1871. He will receive a law degree and
be admitted to the bar in 1874. He will be the first
African American to practice law for the Interstate
Commerce Commission. He will found the weekly paper, “The
People’s Advocate” in 1876. In 1881, he will be elected
President of Bethel Library and Historical Association in
Washington, DC. He will use this position to generate
interest in African American history. He will inspire the
foundation of the Association for the Study of Negro Life
and History in 1915. He will also be the Secretary of the
American Negro Academy. He will join the ancestors on
April 14, 1927.
1859 – “Our Nig” by Harriet E. Wilson is published. It is the
first novel published in the United States by an African
American woman and will be lost to readers for years
until reprinted with a critical essay by noted African
American scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in 1983.
1877 – African Americans from the Post-Civil-War South, led by
Benjamin ‘Pap’ Singleton, settle in Kansas and establish
towns like Nicodemus, to take advantage of free land
offered by the United States government through the
Homestead Act of 1860.
1895 – George Washington Murray is elected to Congress from South
1916 – Novelist Frank Yerby is born in Augusta, Georgia. A student
at Fisk University and the University of Chicago, Yerby’s
early short story “Health Card” will win the O. Henry
short story award. He will later turn to adventure novels
and become a best-selling author in the 1940’s and 1950’s
with “The Foxes of Harrow”, “The Vixens” and many others.
His later novels will include “Goat Song”, “The Darkness
at Ingraham’s Crest-A Tale of the Slaveholding South”,
and “Devil Seed”. In total, Yerby will publish over 30
novels that sell over 20 million copies. He will leave
the United States in 1955 in protest against racial
discrimination, moving to Spain where he will remain for
the rest of his life. He will join the ancestors on
November 29, 1991, after succumbing to congestive heart
failure in Madrid. He will be interred there in the
Cementerio de la Almudena.
1960 – Cassius Clay of Louisville, Kentucky, wins the gold medal
in light heavyweight boxing at the Olympic Games in Rome,
Italy. Clay will later change his name to Muhammad Ali
and become one of the great boxing champions in the world.
In 1996, at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia,
Muhammad Ali will have the honor of lighting the Olympic
1960 – Leopold Sedar Senghor, poet, politician, is elected
President of Senegal.
1972 – Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway win a gold record — for
their duet, “Where is the Love”. The song gets to number
five on the pop music charts and is one of two songs for
the duo to earn gold. The other will be “The Closer I Get
To You” (1978).
1995 – O.J. Simpson jurors hear testimony that police detective
Mark Fuhrman had uttered a racist slur, and advocated the
killing of Blacks.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.