1892—More than 25,000 Black workers are said to have joined a workers strike in New Orleans to protest working conditions, lynching and other social ills.
1935—Fascist Italy invades Ethiopia—at the time, one of only two independent countries in Africa. U.S. Blacks were among thousands protesting worldwide. Powerful Harlem, N.Y., Pastor Adam Clayton Powell Sr. was among those seeking aid for Ethiopia. Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie spoke at his church.
1935—“Mulatto” opens on Broadway in New York City. The play written by famed Black poet Langston Hughes becomes the first long-run Black play on Broadway.
1948—Kweisi Mfume is born Frizzel Gray in Baltimore, Md. He became a congressman, head of the NAACP but later lost a bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
1964—The African nation of Zambia becomes independent from White colonial rule.
1940—Black newspaper owner’s group—the NNPA (National Newspaper Publishers Association) is founded.
1940—Benjamin O. Davis Sr. becomes the first Black general in the U.S. Army.
1958—An estimated 10,000 students led by Jackie Robinson, Harry Belafonte, and labor leader A. Phillip Randolph, participate in a youth march for integrated schools in Washington, D.C.
1976—One-time racist Gov. George Wallace grants a full pardon to Clarence “Willie” Norris—the last known survivor of the nine “Scottsboro Boys.” The group had been framed in a 1931 conviction for allegedly raping two White women.
1994—Apparently believing it would be easy to frame a Black man for the crime, Susan Smith—a White woman from Union, S.C.- claims that a Black carjacker had driven off with her two sons. Her story became a national sensation, but it later fell apart. She eventually confessed to drowning the children and was convicted of murder.
1749—The British parliament legalizes slavery in the American colony, which would become known as Georgia.
1806—Benjamin Banneker dies at 74. He had become a recognized inventor and scientist. He also completed the design and layout of Washington, D.C., after L’Enfant returned to France.
1868—B.F. Randolph, a prominent Black politician in South Carolina after the Civil War, is assassinated. He was believed to have been killed by former Confederate soldiers seeking to re-establish White racist rule in the state via terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.
1872—Inventor T. Marshal patents the fire extinguisher.
1911—Famed gospel singer Mahalia Jackson is born in New Orleans, La. She is generally considered the greatest gospel singer that ever lived.
1891—Inventor P.B. Downing patents the street letter mailbox whose basic design remains in use today. Not much is known about Downing.
1960—President John F. Kennedy intervenes to get Martin Luther King Jr. released from the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, where he had been imprisoned because of his civil rights activities. The Kennedy action endeared him to Black voters.
1981—Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young is elected mayor of Atlanta, Ga., becoming the city’s second Black mayor.
1798—Levi Coffin, who is White, is born in the slave state of North Carolina but becomes a strong opponent of slavery. He and his wife, Catherine, are credited with being among the original founders of the “Underground Railroad”—the system of transports and safe houses that enabled Blacks to escape slavery in the South to freedom in the North.
1929—The Stock Market collapses, ushering in the Great Depression and bringing about Black unemployment rates ranging from 25 to 40 percent. The effects of the Great Depression would last until the start of World War II, which created massive war industry jobs and a second mass migration of Blacks from the South to the industrial North.
1994—Famed dancer Pearl Primus dies. She blended African and Caribbean dance and music with Black American traditions of blues, jazz and the jitterbug to form a new vibrant dance form. She formed a dance troupe and she personally appeared in such early Broadway hits as “Showboat” and “Emperor Jones.” Primus was known for her amazingly high leaps. In 1991, the first President Bush awarded her the National Medal of Arts.
2009—A report is published suggesting that the old self-hate mantra of “I am Black enough; I don’t need any sunshine” could be shortening the lives of African-Americans. Dr. Jonathan Mansbach’s report found, among other things, that American Blacks are not getting enough sunshine or more specifically vitamin D—the sunshine vitamin. Mansbach discovered, for example, that an astonishing 90 percent of Black children were vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to various cancers, diabetes and weak bones. Mansbach is with the Children’s Hospital of Boston.
(This Week in Black History is compiled by Robert Taylor. Subscribe to his free bi-weekly “Black History Journal.” Include $3.00 to help defray postage costs to Robert N. Taylor, 1517 T Street, SE, Washington, D.C. 20020.)