1904—Dr. Charles R. Drew is born. He grows up to conduct a first of its kind research in blood transfusions and the creation of blood plasma. Drew also established Britain’s first blood bank and in the United States he fought against the segregation of blood based on race. He died on April 1, 1950 as a result of injuries received in an automobile accident while driving in North Carolina.
1906—Entertainer Josephine Baker is born in St. Louis, Mo. At 16, she starred in the hit and controversial musical “Shuffle Along.” However, she did not achieve fame until she left the United States and moved to Paris, France, where her exotic dancing and singing made her an international sensation. Baker was mixed race of African-American and Native American parentage. She returned to the U.S. several times including in 1963 to speak at the Dr. Martin Luther King-led March on Washington for civil rights.
1919—The Liberty Life Insurance Co. becomes the first insurance company organized by Blacks outside of the South. It was incorporated on this day in Chicago, Ill., in 1919.
1942—Singer Curtis Mayfield is born in Chicago, Ill. His musical style combined the blues, gospel and soul music popular in the area at the time.