JOHN CARLOS AND TOMMIE SMITH
Week of June 5-11
1945—Track star John Carlos is born in Harlem, N.Y. Carlos and fellow sprinter Tommie Smith created an international sensation when they protested American racism by giving the “Black Power” clinched fist salute when accepting their medals at the 1968 Olympics.
1872—The Republican Party National Convention takes place in Philadelphia with substantial representation from former Black slaves. At least three Blacks addressed the national political gathering. At this point in history, the Republicans were the nation’s most progressive party and attracted the allegiance of African-Americans. Blacks would remain loyal to the Republicans until the 1930s. But by 1945 with the Republicans becoming increasingly conservative and attracted to the New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the vast majority of Blacks had switched to the Democrats.
1894—Black inventor G.W. Murray patents a fertilizer distributor, cotton chopper and a seed planter all on this day in 1894.
1956—Although the actual decision may have been reached the previous day, a federal district court hands down a ruling declaring that Alabama laws requiring racial segregation in public transportation were unconstitutional. The decision, which was later confirmed by the United States Supreme Court, was the first major legal victory for the Civil Rights Movement. It grew out of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott sparked when Rosa Parks defied the law and custom by refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a White man. Although actually organized by Rev. E.D. Nixon, the Boycott would result in Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. becoming the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader.