* Today in Black History – May 8 *
1771 – Phillis Wheatley sails for England. Two years later, her
book of poetry, “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and
Moral,” will be published in London.
1858 – John Brown holds an antislavery convention, which is
attended by twelve whites and thirty-four African
Americans, in Chatham, Canada.
1858 – “The Escape,” first play by an African American, is
published by William Wells Brown.
1910 – Mary Elfrieda Scruggs is born in Atlanta, Georgia. She will
become a professional piano player at the age of 6 in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After marrying musician and band
leader, John Williams, she will perform as Mary Lou
Williams. She will become an accomplished arranger and
composer and be a music educator in her later years. In
1957, she will form Mary Records, becoming the first
woman to establish a record company. She will join the
ancestors on May 28, 1981 in Durham, North Carolina.
1911 – Robert Leroy Johnson is born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. He
will become a legendary blues musician while remaining
relatively obscure during his short lifetime. Recordings of
Johnson, made by by Columbia Records between 1936 and 1937,
will be the foundation for his reputation after he joins
the ancestors on August 18, 1938. The songs he recorded will
influence the bluesmen of the 1960’s during the revival of
the blues. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame in 1986.
1915 – Henry McNeal Turner joins the ancestors in Windsor, Canada.
He was an influential minister in the AME Church and was
appointed the first African American chaplain in the U.S.
1917 – An African American, Jesse Washington, is burned alive in a
public square in Waco, Texas. Fifteen thousand will look
on in the incident known later as the “Waco Horror.”
1925 – A. Philip Randolph organizes the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car
Porters after failing to integrate the American Federation
1932 – Charles (Sonny) Liston is born in St. Frances County,
Arkansas. After spending time as juvenile delinquent, he
will be convicted of armed robbery in 1950 and sentenced to
prison. While in prison, he will develop an interest in
boxing. He will win the 1953 Golden Gloves championship,
after serving his sentence. He will become a professional
boxer and will win the World Heavyweight Boxing crown
in 1962 and defend it until he is defeated by Cassius Clay
(later named Muhammad Ali) in 1964. He will join the
ancestors on December 30, 1970 and be inducted into the
International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.
1951 – Philip Bailey is born in Denver, Colorado. He will become a
Rhythm and Blues singer and will enjoy his first fame with
the group Earth, Wind and Fire, which he joins in 1972. He
will develop his unique four-octave voice into a trademark
sound and will be the hallmark of the group’s hits such as
“Reasons,” “Shining Star,” “All ‘N’ All,” and “After The
Love Has Gone.” In 1983, he will start his solo career and
will enjoy success in both Rhythm and Blues and Gospel
venues. On March 6, 2000 he will appear with Earth, Wind
and Fire when they are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall
1958 – President Eisenhower orders federalized National Guard
troops removed from Central High School in Little Rock,
1965 – The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians is
founded by Muhal Richard Abrams.
1967 – Muhammad Ali is indicted for refusing induction in the U.S.
2003 – Sam Lacy joins the ancestors at the age of 99, after
succumbing to esophageal disorder. He had been one of the
nation’s first African American sportswriters and was a
chronicler of sports integration.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.