This Week In Black History

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January 12
1890—Educator Mordecai Wyatt Johnson is born in Paris, Texas. Johnson became the first Black president of Howard University and presided over the prestigious Black institution for more than 30 years. He died in 1976.
1920—Civil rights leader James Farmer is born on this day in Marshal, Texas. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s he was among the top three or four most prominent civil rights leaders. He helped organize the “Freedom Rides” to help desegregate public transportation and founded the Congress of Racial Equality. He died in 1999.
1944—Boxer Joe Frazier is born in Beauford, S.C. His fights with the legendary Muhammad Ali have become boxing classics.
1960—Basketball great Jacques Dominique Wilkins is born in Paris, France.
1971—The Congressional Black Caucus is first organized on this day in 1971.
January 13
1869—On this day in 1869, one of the earliest post-Civil War attempts at organizing Blacks on a national level occurs. The National Convention of Black Leaders is held in Washington, D.C. Frederick Douglass is elected president. Also, the first Black labor union convention takes place. It was called the Convention of the Colored National Labor Union.
1913—The sorority Delta Sigma Theta is organized on the campus of Howard University by 22 coeds. It develops into one of the most prestigious and influential Black Greek letter organizations in the nation.
1953—Don Barksdale becomes the first African-American to play in an NBA All-Star game.
1966—Robert C. Weaver becomes the first Black member of a presidential cabinet. Lyndon B. Johnson appoints him Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
1987—In what many considered a racist decision, Arizona Governor Evan Mecham rescinds the gubernatorial decree, which had established the birthday of civil rights legend Martin Luther King Jr. as a state holiday. The decision sets off protests and a national Black boycott of Arizona.
1989—Poet Sterling Brown dies. Brown, a middle class Black, born into one of Washington, D.C.’s, most prominent Black families, has probably never received full credit for the power, thought-provoking and even revolutionary nature of his poetry. He was a professor at Howard University for nearly 40 years.
1999—Superstar Michael Jordan retires from professional basketball. However, in 2009, Jordan was still ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the top 10 richest Blacks in America.
January 13
1869—On this day in 1869, one of the earliest post-Civil War attempts at organizing Blacks on a national level occurred. The National Convention of Black Leaders was held in Washington, D.C. Frederick Douglass was elected president. Also, the first Black labor union convention took place. It was called the Convention of the Colored National Labor Union.
1913—The sorority Delta Sigma Theta is organized on the campus of Howard University by 22 coeds. It developed into one of the most prestigious and influential Black Greek letter organizations in the nation.
1953—Don Barksdale becomes the first African-American to play in an NBA All-Star game.
1966—Robert C. Weaver became the first Black member of a presidential cabinet. Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
1987—In what many considered a racist decision, Arizona Gov. Even Mecham rescinds the gubernatorial decree that had established the birthday of civil rights legend Martin Luther King Jr. as a state holiday. The decision set off protests and a national Black boycott of Arizona.
1989—Poet Sterling Brown dies. Brown, a middle class Black, born into one of Washington, D.C.’s most prominent Black families, has probably never received full credit for the power, thought-provoking and even revolutionary nature of his poetry. He was a professor at Howard University for nearly 40 years.
1999—Superstar Michael Jordan retires from professional basketball. However, in 2009, Jordan was still ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the top 10 richest Blacks in America.
January 14
1895—A group of African-Americans organized the National Steamboat Co. in Washington, D.C. The group sailed the luxury steamer “George Leary” between the nation’s capital and Norfolk, Va., during the waning years of steamboat popularity in America. The George Leary was a triumph for Black entry into business.
1930—Ernest Just becomes vice president of the American Association of Zoologists. Just was perhaps the most noted Black zoologist in American history. He accomplished pioneering research in fertilization and cell division while also publishing more than 70 scientific papers and books. Born in Charleston, S.C., he was a brilliant student who graduated from Dartmouth magna cum laude. He taught at Howard University in Washington, D.C., for years and helped a group of students organize the Black Greek letter fraternity—Omega Psi Phi. Just died in 1941 of pancreatic cancer.
1972—“Sanford and Son” starring Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson premiers on NBC. The sitcom gains almost immediate popularity among Blacks as well as develop a large following of Whites. The name “Sanford” came from John Sanford—Redd Foxx’s real name.
January 15
1908—Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Black Greek letter sorority, is founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle of St. Louis, Mo. The sorority gradually branched out to other campuses and became one of the leading organizational vehicles for college-trained Black women to make their mark on American society.

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