1952–BOXER-TURNED-ACTOR CANADA LEE DIES IN NEW YORK CITY AT THE AGE OF 45.
Week of May 8-15
1858—The first play by an African-American writer is published. The play was titled “The Escape” and the author was William Wells Brown. Brown was also a leading abolitionist speaking forcefully against slavery. However, Brown was often overshadowed by his better known contemporary Frederick Douglass. Indeed, he and Douglas often publicly feuded.
1925—The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is founded. The Brotherhood would become the leading Black-led trade union organization in America. In addition to introducing unionism to African-Americans, the ability to travel to cities throughout the country enabled the porters to become a major vehicle of communications for American Blacks. They distributed everything from letters to Black-oriented newspapers as they traveled the nation. The chief organizer was the legendary A. Phillip Randolph.