* Today in Black History – March 11 *
1861 – The Confederate Congress, meeting in Montgomery, Alabama,
adopts a constitution which declares that the passage of any
“law denying or impairing the right of property in Negro
slaves is prohibited.”
1870 – Moshweshwe, King of Basutoland (Lesotho) joins the ancestors.
Moshweshwe was the founder of Lesotho in the 1820’s. Lesotho
was landlocked by the Cape Colony (now South Africa). He was
able to develop a strong tribal organization from his mix of
peoples. He appeased the Zulu and Ndebele, led cattle raids
on surrounding people, defeated the British in 1852 and
conducted frequent wars with the Orange Free State. Because
of repeated attacks by the Cape Colony, Moshweshwe asked the
British for protection and Lesotho will become a protectorate
in 1868. Upon his death, the country was annexed to Cape
Colony, but was returned to the status of British protectorate
in 1884. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910,
the British honored the desire of Lesotho (“Basutoland”) to
remain independent. A protectorate continued until 1968,
protecting Lesotho from incursions from South Africa.
1874 – Frederick Douglass is named president of the failing Freedmen’s
1884 – William Edouard Scott is born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He will
study with Henry O. Tanner at the Art Institute of Chicago.
He later will go to Paris, France and study at the Julien and
Colarossi academies. He will also study under Tanner again in
Paris (Tanner had emigrated there) and become best known for
his portrait studies of Haitians, rural life, and landscapes.
Many of his murals are on the walls of public buildings in
Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, and New York (135th Street
YMCA). In 1943, he will be the only African American artist
chosen to create a mural for the Recorder of Deeds Building in
Washington, D.C. By the end of his life, he will create over
seventy-five murals celebrating black history and culture. In
2007, the Indiana State Museum will organize the traveling
retrospective: “Our Own Artist: Paintings by Indiana’s William
Edouard Scott, 1884-1964.” He will join the ancestors in 1964.
1919 – Mercer Ellington is born in Washington, DC, the only child of
Edward “Duke” Ellington and his wife, Edna. He will become
“the keeper of the flame,” the charge his father will give him
and one he will readily accept. In doing so, he will lead the
Duke Ellington Orchestra for over twenty years after replacing
his father. In the early 1980s, he will become the first
conductor for a Broadway musical of his father’s music,
“Sophisticated Ladies.” His “Digital Duke” will win the 1988
Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. He will join
the ancestors on February 8, 1996 in Copenhagen, Denmark, after
succumbing to a heart attack.
1926 – Ralph David Abernathy is born in Linden, Alabama. He will
become a famed minister, civil rights advocate, and confidant
of Martin Luther King, Jr. After King’s assassination, he
will become the president of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference and write an autobiography that will attract
widespread criticism for his comments on King’s alleged
womanizing. He will join the ancestors on April 17, 1990.
1935 – “The Conjure Man Dies,” a play by Rudolph Fisher, premieres on
Broadway at the Lafayette Theatre. Fisher, who had joined the
ancestors over a year before the play’s premiere, had adapted
the play from his 1932 short story “The Conjure-Man Dies: A
Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem,” considered the first detective
fiction by an African American.
1948 – Reginald Weir becomes the first African American to play in the
U.S. Indoor Lawn Tennis Association Championship. He will win
his first match, but will be eliminated on March 13.
1950 – Robert “Bobby” McFerrin is born in New York City. He will be
known for his versatile and innovative a cappella jazz vocals
and for his hit song “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” which will sell
over ten million copies and earn him three Grammy awards in
1989 in addition to a Grammy for best jazz vocalist.
1956 – A manifesto denouncing the Supreme Court ruling on segregation
in public schools, is issued by one hundred southern senators
1959 – “A Raisin in the Sun” becomes the first play written by an
African American woman, Lorraine Hansberry, to open on
Broadway. The play will run for 19 months at the Ethel
Barrymore Theatre, and be named “Best Play” by the New York
Drama Critics Circle, and bring Lloyd Richards to Broadway as
the first African American director in modern times.
1965 – After civil rights demonstrations in Selma, Alabama, the
Reverend James J. Reeb, a white minister from Boston, dies,
succumbing to his beating by segregationist whites.
1968 – Otis Redding posthumously receives a gold record for the single
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”
1971 – Whitney M. Young, Jr., executive director of the National Urban
League, joins the ancestors after drowning while swimming
during a visit to Lagos, Nigeria.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.