1748—This is the probable birth date of Prince Hall—the “Father of Black Masons.” Hall was a veteran of America’s war of independence from England, founder of the first African-American Masonic lodges and one of the most prominent Black leaders of his era. The charter for the first Black Masonic lodge was granted on Sept. 29, 1784. It was known as African Lodge #459 of Boston.
1869—Congress adopts the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution making it illegal for the U.S. government or any state to “deny or abridge” the right to vote “on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.” This was one of the so-called “Reconstruction Amendments (13th, 14th & 15th)” which essentially ended slavery, made Blacks full U.S. citizens and guaranteed the right to vote.
1872—Charlotte E. Ray graduates from the Howard University Law School becoming the first Black female lawyer in the United States. It also appears that she was the third female lawyer of any race. She was admitted to the Washington, D.C., bar the same year she graduated. But racism and sexism prevented her from making a living as a lawyer in the nation’s capital, so she moved to New York and got a job with the Brooklyn school system.
1708—One of the first recorded slave revolts in American history takes place on Newton, Long Island (New York). Seven Whites are killed. In retaliation, two Black male slaves and one Indian male slave were hung, while one Black female slave was burned alive.
1879—A date considered by many to mark the beginning of the great “Exodus of 1879,” when thousands of Blacks begin fleeing racism, violence and economic exploitation in the South for new lives in the Midwest, especially Kansas. One of the most prominent organizers of the exodus was former Tennessee slave Benjamin “Pap” Singleton. An estimated 20,000 Blacks took part in the exodus. They were driven in part by the Homestead Act which promised free land. But by 1880, efforts had already begun to curtail the movement of Blacks to the Midwest. In 1881, Pap Singleton was hauled before a Senate investigative committee looking into his role in the exodus.
1989—Philip Emeagwali is awarded the Golden Bell Prize for solving one of the 20 most difficult problems in computer science. The prize is widely considered the “Nobel Prize of Computing.” The feat of the Nigerian-born computer scientist involved, at the time, the world’s fastest computer computation—a staggering 3.1 billion calculations per second. He figured out how oil flows underground and thus better enabled companies to extract it.